Tampa Bay area students head back to school after Hurricane Irma

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HILLSBOROUGH COUNTY, Fla.  (WFLA) – For the first time since Hurricane Irma tore its way through the state, Tampa Bay area schools are opening their doors.

Hillsborough County leaders recommend parents and students treat today like a “second” first day of school.

The district asks parents for patience for the first days back to school. Officials say to expect possible bus delays because of detours and road closures due to the storm.  Also, bus drivers will pick up and drop off students as close as possible to their usual bus stops.

There will be temporary changes to the lunch menu at schools since the district gave 34,000 meals a day to evacuees who used the more than 40 schools that doubled as shelters during Irma.  The district will be getting deliveries all week to replace that food and other food that went bad because of power outages.

“A lot of people were affected by the hurricane,” said Jessie Land, a junior at Newsome High School in Lithia who tells us she’s prepared to be bombarded with work.

”They’re going to try and cram everything in as quickly as possible,” she told News Channel 8.

All this while some students and their families have other work to do outside the classroom.

“I just feel like those people in the Alafia River, they might not even be able to go to school because their houses were flooded and their clothes were just completely ruined,” Jessie said, as she expressed compassion for her fellow students.

“I mean it was very scary,” Jessie’s mom, Joanne, told News Channel 8 about Hurricane Irma.

She believes Irma took it’s toll on the kids and that counselors need to be on hand for such a traumatic experience.

“It’s going to be a lot of adjustment for them and hopefully they’ve had some time to get over some of the initial shock of this,” Land said.

Tanya Arja of the Hillsborough County School District says they want to make this transition as seamless as possible.

“So when students come back, they’re going to pick right up where they left,” Arja said.  “We really need to get back to learning so the focus is going to be back to learning the first day.”

In addition to Hillsborough County, Pinellas, Pasco, Hernando, Citrus, Sarasota, and Manatee County students go back to school today.

Polk County students will be back in class on Tuesday, while kids in Hardee County will wait until Wednesday.

These colleges and universities will reopen today:

  • USF Sarasota Manatee
  • Hillsborough Community College
  • St Petersburg College
  • Pasco-Hernando State College
  • Florida Polytechnic University
  • Polk State College
  • Pinellas Technical College

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