Pasco County Schools Close for Tropical Storm Eta


Lauren Stallworth, Editor

In a year of unpredictable occurrences, Cypress Creek students received another surprise yesterday – school cancellation due to Tropical Storm Eta. Bringing an unplanned early dismissal at 11:00 AM, Wednesday, November 11th, and a full day off from school yesterday, Thursday November 12th, students and teachers alike were not anticipating the storm to cause such abrupt closures.
As Tropical Storm Eta’s path moved closer and closer to the Florida East Coast in the early hours of Wednesday morning, the storm briefly escalated to Hurricane status, prompting Pasco, Polk, Hillsborough, Hernando, Manatee, and Citrus, and Pinellas school districts to close campuses for Thursday. Due to many virtual accommodations already in place due to COVID-19, Citrus, Manatee, and Hillsborough opted to do virtual learning for all students today.
As for when the storm first hit, both Pasco and Pinellas schools did an early dismissal procedure Wednesday.
While the news was unexpected, it was welcomed and deemed highly necessary. As the storm moved through Tampa Bay, it wreaked havoc. Areas such as Hudson, Holiday, and parts of Sarasota experienced flooding, with rescue teams being deployed to help transport residents to safety. In Pasco County, winds up to 60 miles an hour were reported, bringing along with it 4 inches of rain. Additionally, a tornado briefly touched down in Ruskin around 4:45 PM. In total, over a dozen homes lost roofs or enough of their home to be inhabitable for the time being, not to mention lots of evacuations for other storm-related dangers.
Tropical Storm Eta even made history today, hitting so abruptly that it beat Tampa’s Bay previous 24-Hour rainfall record of .83 inches of rain (held since 1968) to 3.99 inches.
These extreme weather circumstances caused many businesses to close, as well as the Skyway Bridge.
In addition to school closures being necessary for our safety, many saw it as a huge relief amongst the chaos COVID-19 continues to cause in counties across the country, but especially in our school district locally. Pasco County Schools have seen a major increase in COVID-19 cases within our school, not to mention the number of teachers and students then quarantined as a precaution. While of course, this is to be expected amidst a pandemic, it does not take away from the anxiety and uncertainty students are feeling, making a day off from school to mentally recharge was not the worst thing for Pasco County Schools.
As of this time, all Tampa Bay school districts plan on opening schools tomorrow. Though it initially left extensive damage in some areas, the storm and the high winds accompanying it have now moved north; with the storm currently losing strength and headed toward the Atlantic.
The Howler will continue to update you on any developments.