The Sarasota County School District announced Monday that all classes and school-related activities will proceed normally on Tuesday.
The district delayed announcing its decision several times, frustrating parents who worried they would not have enough time to prepare or flee from the incoming storm.
But following "intensive deliberations," school district officials from Sarasota and Manatee counties decided to open schools during normal hours.
“The safety of our students and staff is fundamental to all we do when considering altering school operations,” said Sarasota County Superintendent Todd Bowden. “Given what we know about the projected impact and wind force of Hurricane Dorian in our community on Tuesday, we believe it is safe for our schools to operate as previously scheduled, including after school events and activities.”
Bowden and Manatee County Superintendent Cynthia Saunders cited several reasons for opening schools as scheduled.
In a statement, both noted that forecasts from the National Weather Service office in Ruskin have consistently stated that the expected impact on southwest Florida counties is expected to be “minimal.”
While wind levels may be elevated, they are not expected to come close to standards required to impact school bus transportation services, the statement said.
Buses cannot operate if sustained winds reach 30 mph.
Thunderstorm activity in both counties is also expected to be typical for this time of year.
Emergency management operations in both counties de-escalated activity on Saturday, the statement said. Furthermore, a decision to open shelters in either county has not been made.
Students who are kept home Tuesday due to the storm will be able to receive an excused absence.