School staff and students spent the morning fortifying doors and entrances with sand bags.
School might be closed, but there was still work to do at Out-of-Door Academy’s lower school campus.
About a dozen upper-school students helped fill 300 sandbags Friday morning to fortify the school’s doors and entrances.
“These kids are voluntary,” Head of School David Mahler said. “One of our seniors put out a Google invitation and just invited students. A bunch of kids who care about the school and had time this morning showed up.”
Mahler said it was important to the staff to hold off on preparations until after school’s closed, especially on the lower campus, to avoid any panic. Gov. Rick Scott ordered that all Florida schools and colleges close until Tuesday.
“We have hurricane protocol for both campuses so we activated that earlier this week,” Mahler said. “We have tried to keep a sense of real normalcy on the campus. Late last night we did a lot of heavy lifting and tucked a lot of things away.”
Hurricane Irma shifted west late Thursday night and a hurricane watch was put into place for the Sarasota area. The latest forecasts have Irma making landfall in south Florida, then pushing up the western third of the state. A hurricane warning extends from Bonita Beach to Jupiter Inlet.
As for ODA, Mahler said they are most concerned about the historic buildings on the Siesta Key campus.
“We have historic buildings that go back to the 1920s and ‘30s,” he said. “Obviously, they are wooden structures and we are hoping for the best.”
The campus will remain closed until at least Tuesday.
“We are going to wait,” Mahler said. “We would take Monday afternoon to make a good assessment and depending on how much water we see and how much wind we took we can make a thorough assessment.”
Mahler said the school has weathered storms before, despite a relatively peaceful hurricane season in recent years.
“Although the storm seasons over the last several years in the Gulf have been very kind to Sarasota, we have developed these protocols, refined these protocols … so that when we get to a situation like this we make sure to get the equipment and resources to protect the campuses,” he said.