Frequently Asked Questions Regarding School Reopening after Hurricane Imra – September 14th, 2017

  1. Why are we opening schools?  Our schools are ready, and all major repairs have been made to make our schools safe for students and staff.  We understand that parents have to return to work and need a supervised place for their children.  We want to ensure that every child has access to breakfast and lunch.  As part of the healing process, students need to be able to socialize with their friends. It is important to acclimate our students back to school gradually.  We will use this day of instruction to catch everyone up and reestablish routines and procedures within the school. 
  2. Are schools safe and clean for students and staff? We have been very fortunate, and we have only received minor damage to our schools.  Schools have had power, and we have been able to clean and make minor repairs so that every campus is safe for students. Even South Elementary and Osceola Middle Schools which were used for shelters have been thoroughly cleaned and prepared for students.  Our hardworking custodial and maintenance staff have been able to make this happen.
  3. Will all students receive a hot meal on Friday, September 15th? All students will have the opportunity to receive a meal at school.  For students who have funds in their account, the meal will be debited.  If students do not have money on their account, they will also receive a hot meal. Our cafeteria staff has worked to ensure food safety and quality. We have a sufficient amount of food to feed students a hot meal.
  4. Can students take a shower at school? Students at OMS, YMS, OFC and OHS have shower facilities for students to use.  Students need to bring their own soap and a towel, and students wanting to use the shower facilities need to report to the office first thing in the morning.
  5. Will my absence be excused on Friday, September 15th? We will be flexible when it comes to absences given that everyone’s personal circumstances may vary.  If you have any safety concerns regarding travel to and from the bus stop, please keep your child at home. His or her absence will be excused for Friday, September 15, 2017.
  6. Will I receive an attendance phone call if my child is not in school? All attendance related phone calls have been temporarily turned off.  They will resume mid-week next week.
  7. Will there be aftercare services on Friday, September 15th? Yes, there will be aftercare services for those students already in the aftercare program.  If you want to enroll your student in the aftercare program you will need to contact your school office. To register you must complete the form at your school site and show proof of insurance.
  8. Do the phones work at my child’s school?  Almost all schools are able to receive calls except Okeechobee High School, North Elementary and Yearling Middle School.  As of right now, phone service is limited at those three schools.  Knowing this, please make definite plans for how your child will get home.  If you need to make different plans, please send in a note. We recognize that most students carry cell phones and students will be allowed to call home to confirm afternoon pick up arrangements.  If you are unable to reach the school in an emergency, you may call the district office at 863-462-5000. 
  9. If my child needs to get home a different way what do I need to do?  If you need to change how your child is getting home, please send in a note to the school. 
  10. Will my child’s bus stop be the same? Our buses will try and run their regular routes.  However, downed trees, power-lines and water may prevent them from traveling down certain roads.  If one of those conditions exist between your home and the bus stop, we encourage you to keep your child at home.  We will excuse the absence. 
  11. What if you are staying somewhere other than your home, and your student needs to ride a bus? In the morning, buses will pick up any student at any bus stop. If you are staying at a home within your school zone, an emergency bus pass must be completed for a student to be dropped off anywhere other than their normal stop.  Parents should contact the school office by phone or written note to request an emergency bus pass. A student will not be automatically dropped off in the afternoon at the location where he/she was picked up unless the emergency bus pass is completed. 
  12. What if my contact phone number isn’t working? Parents should provide updated contact information in student agendas or send a note to the front office. Parents need to indicate if this is a permanent change.
  13. What if I am staying with another family outside of my school zone? If this move will be for an extended period of time, the parent will need to take the child to the home school and complete necessary paperwork for displaced students.  After the paperwork is complete, you will be contacted by the district.  Also, if this move is going to be for an extended period of time, parents may also enroll their child at the school within the new zone.  If the move is short term, the parent may provide transportation to and from the student’s home school.
  14. Should I notify the school if my family has had to move due to the storm? Yes, you will need to go to your child’s school to complete the necessary paperwork for displaced students.  If you qualify, your child will receive free school lunch.  Breakfast is already a free service for all students within the district.
  15. My child had tests and homework scheduled prior to the storm.  Will it be due tomorrow?  No.
  16. How will we make up the hurricane days? Florida Statute specifies the number of hours children must be in attendance on an annual basis.  Right now, we have two hurricane make-up days scheduled for Monday, November 20th and Tuesday, November 21st. Please plan to attend school on these two days. If by chance the Commissioner of Education waives the statutory requirement, the calendar will be adjusted. We will post the finalized calendar and send a notification home when the calendar adjustments are finalized.

This message was prepared by Okeechobee County Schools to make our transition back to school a safe one.