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  • Writer's pictureChad Oliver

Collier Schools

Reopen and reach out following Hurricane Ian

Hurricane Ian brought a surge of flooding into Collier communities, devastation to our northern neighbors in Lee County, and widespread power outages. The Category Four storm made landfall on September 28, 2022, and by October 6, all 50+ Collier County Public Schools (CCPS) reopened to students.

“We need [students] back, and we also need the community to get back. We know the schools play an active role in getting our economy up and going again because parents can then get to work,” CCPS Superintendent Dr. Kamela Patton said while giving an interview to CNN in front of Shadowlawn Elementary School.

We understood many of our staff members live outside of Collier and the schools where they live may not have been open. In fact, 22% of our CCPS teachers live in Lee County. To support our employees, CCPS partnered with the Boys & Girls Club of Collier County to provide a school day camp at no cost for school-aged children of our staff who live outside of Collier. Our nearly 7,000 employees — instructional, non-instructional, and support roles — have propelled student achievement to the top of both state and national assessments, and should take pride in CCPS being A-rated every year since 2017.

“Our employees are balancing a tremendous amount of personal trauma along with professional responsibilities and dedication to their students,” explained CCPS Assistant Superintendent of Human Resources Valerie Wenrich. “Collectively, our CCPS staff family are helping each other in various ways, such as carpooling, doing laundry for each other, delivering meals, giving monetary donations, and giving leave time to others who may not have enough. They are emotionally resilient and have learned over time how to support each other. We will continue to support our employees the best we can.”

CCPS schools immediately started collecting donations for families personally affected by Hurricane Ian. The day before schools reopened, a caravan of vehicles gathered at Oakridge Middle School to deliver needed items to school sites and affected neighborhoods.

Reopening our 50+ public school campuses came with many considerations, including electricity at schools and homes, staffing availability, road closures, fuel scarcity, significant flooding and debris, driving conditions, traffic control system outages, food concerns, boil water notices, and the availability of Youth Relations Deputies and nurses who serve during times of emergency. As we move forward together, it is important to remember the many staff members, students, parents, and community members that have selflessly answered the calls to serve.


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