Palm Beach County schools closed Wednesday for Hurricane Ian

Palm Beach County public schools and district offices will be closed Wednesday as Hurricane Ian is forecast to make landfall on the west coast of Florida, school district officials announced Tuesday.

All after-school activities, sports practices and meetings are also canceled Wednesday.

The district has not decided whether campuses will be closed beyond Wednesday. At a news conference on Tuesday afternoon, Superintendent Mike Burke said the district will make the call sometime on Wednesday.

Burke encouraged students to bring applicable textbooks home. He said the effects of the storm could create "great reading weather."

Updates on storm-related closures can be found on the district's Hurricane Ian resource page. 

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“We have been watching Hurricane Ian closely before making our decision to close schools,” Burke said in a news release.

“While Palm Beach County is not currently included in the National Hurricane Center’s probability cone, hazardous conditions in our area may occur," he added. "I will continue to work closely with emergency managers and make timely decisions in the best interest of our students and staff.”

As of Tuesday morning, the district has not been asked to open shelters in school buildings, the news release said.

Although students are in class Tuesday, all after-school activities and sports practices have been canceled.

After-care programs remain open on Tuesday until 6 p.m.

8 a.m. track map for Hurricane Ian.
8 a.m. track map for Hurricane Ian.

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When can Palm Beach County school buses operate?

Palm Beach County's school buses cannot operate when sustained wind speeds top 35 mph.

The National Weather Service in Miami forecasts a 60% chance of tropical storm force winds (defined as 39 mph and higher) between 2 a.m. and 8 p.m. Wednesday.

Because Palm Beach County is so large, high winds in one area can call off bus service for the whole county, even if local winds don't reach 35 mph.

The district reacts "holistically," officials said Monday.

Other South Florida schools off both Wednesday and Thursday

Nearly every district in Florida has called off classes for Wednesday and Thursday, according to a list provided by the Florida Department of Education, including districts outside the path of the storm such as Indian River, St. Lucie, Martin, Broward and Miami-Dade Counties.

Miami-Dade officials said in a news release that district buses cannot operate during tropical storm force winds.

They added that many students walk to school and could encounter downed power lines and debris if they were to attend school after the storm moves through.

Katherine Kokal is a journalist covering education at The Palm Beach Post. You can reach her at Help support our work, subscribe today!

This article originally appeared on Palm Beach Post: Palm Beach County Schools closed Wednesday for Hurricane Ian