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Gabrielle Settles
By Gabrielle Settles October 3, 2022

Florida public schools were closed during Hurricane Ian, despite claim

If Your Time is short

  • The video in the post is of a Texas school in 2019, not a Florida school during Hurricane Ian.

An Instagram video showed teachers and students maneuvering down a flooded school walkway. The teachers stood in the rising water and guided the children, who were holding their lunchboxes as they stepped on top of benches that lined the corridor.

"Florida Public schools (were) still open during the start of the hurricane," the Sept. 30 post read. 

The post came two days after Hurricane Ian made landfall in Florida. People who commented wondered why parents had sent their children to school during the storm.

They didn’t. 

The post was flagged as part of Facebook’s efforts to combat false news and misinformation on its News Feed. (Read more about our partnership with Facebook.)

The video is real, but it’s from three years ago and was taken when a storm impacted a school in Texas. 

According to KRTK-TV, Channel 13, an ABC affiliate in Houston, the video shows children leaving Durham Elementary School during Tropical Storm Imelda, which dumped about 43 inches of rain in parts of Texas in September 2019. In a Sept. 20, 2019, report, the station said the clip showed children walking along a "bridge" of benches a teacher built to provide an outdoor walkway to lunch when water started rising. 

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During preparation and response to Category 4 Hurricane Ian, the Florida Department of Education closed down most of its 75 school districts. 

Cassie Palelis, a department press secretary, said the closures were necessary "to allow families time to prepare and open as shelters for the community."

Sixteen districts were closed Sept. 27; 52 districts were closed Sept. 28, the day the hurricane began to hit the state; and 58 were closed Sept. 29, Palelis said. 

"The department will continue working with superintendents in Southwest Florida to help facilitate recovery efforts and ensure students can safely return to the classroom as quickly as possible," she said.

Our ruling

An Instagram video alleged Florida Public Schools were still open during Hurricane Ian.

The video is 3 years old, and shows the effects of a flooded school hallway from Tropical Storm Imelda in Texas, not Hurricane Ian in Florida. 

A majority of Florida Public Schools did close ahead of and after the hurricane. 

This claim is False.

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Florida public schools were closed during Hurricane Ian, despite claim

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