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Scott closes state colleges, universities as Hurricane Irma nears

File photo
File photo

JACKSONVILLE, Fla. – As Hurricane Irma moves toward Florida, Governor Rick Scott on Thursday night directed all public K-12 schools, state colleges, state universities and state offices to close Friday through Monday.

"I am directing the closure of all public schools, state colleges, state universities and state offices for their normal activities effective Friday through Monday, to ensure we have every space available for sheltering and staging," Scott said. "Floridians are facing a life-threatening storm in Hurricane Irma, and every family must prepare to evacuate. Our state’s public schools serve a vital role in our communities as shelters for displaced residents and staging areas for hurricane recovery efforts. Closing public schools, state colleges, state universities and state offices will provide local and state emergency officials the flexibility necessary to support shelter and emergency response efforts.” 

Many colleges and universities had already made the decision to announce campus closures before the governor's announcement. 

Jacksonville University will close its campus beginning Friday.

The campus will remain closed through Tuesday, according to JU News Director Phillip Milano.

Although the local authorities have not issued an evacuation order, we recognize that many of our students come from outside of Florida, Milano said. He said the university wants to provide as much time as possible for those who choose to leave to travel safely to their destinations before and after the storm.

As in past tropical weather events, we are fully prepared under the current forecast weather conditions to safely house students on campus, Milano said. The university has resources and infrastructure on campus that make it one of the safest places its students and residential staff can be, including generators for food storage and plumbing, stores of food to get us through several days, backup water, active campus security, and on-duty physical plant staff for emergencies. As with Hurricane Matthew, should conditions call for it, we will relocate residents of North Hall and the Village Apartments to Oak and Williams halls, Milano said.

The relocation would be for convenience and access to dining, medical care, ingress and egress to campus, and for the safety of students and staff who would otherwise have to traverse the campus during a significant weather and rain event.

Students and staff are required to CHECK OUT before leaving so the university knows where you are going and has current contact information for you. The checkout form is available at www.ju.edu/checkout. Please also let your family know your plans.

For more information, go to https://www.ju.edu/emergency/weather/index.php.

The University of North Florida has canceled classes, most events and non-essential operations beginning Friday and continuing through Monday. The university said the closure will allow students, faculty and staff travel time in advance of the storm. The cancellation also includes all online classes. As far as classes after Monday, the university will make that decision over the weekend and let students know through the communication system.

Florida State University in Tallahassee said it's monitoring the storm and preparing for a possible impact as staff spent Tuesday assessing facilities, testing equipment and stocking up on supplies. FSU said class schedules remain unchanged for now, but university officials will take appropriate action if necessary. Students, faculty and staff should monitor alerts.fsu.edu for official FSU updates and emergency information and instructions. FSU has rescheduled its football game Saturday to noon in Tallahassee.

Florida A&M University's Jacksonville campus will close noon Thursday and reopen on Tuesday. FAMU's campuses and facilities in Brooksville, Orlando, Tampa, and Davie/Miami remain closed. The university will continue to watch for official weather advisories in Crestview and Tallahassee and will make determinations of the status of our facilities in these areas as more information is provided. Although state agencies will close, FAMU’s main campus in Tallahassee will be closed through Friday, and any changes in operational or class schedules will be announced as soon as possible. Events scheduled in Tallahassee for Saturday-Sunday will still take place, which include the President’s Convocation, Rattler Preview, the Graduate Feeder Conference, “Set Friday,” Grape Harvest Festival, and Athletics activities.

COUNTY-BY-COUNTY: Latest Hurricane Irma info for Jacksonville | Jacksonville's beaches | St. Johns County | Clay County | Nassau County | Flagler County | Putnam County | Inland First Coast counties | Georgia counties

University of Florida in Gainesville will be closed Sunday and Monday. Only needed essential university personnel should report for work. 

UF is currently scheduled to reopen and resume classes and normal operations on Tuesday. The official site for university hurricane information is the UF home page.

Information on student services, including safety and dining will be announced later today and distributed to students. Depending on the hurricane’s projected impact, campus shelters may be opened for students, faculty and staff, and their family members. 

UF Health clinical and core service personnel are asked to check with their supervisors as to whether they should report to work and provide support to the academic health center for emergency operations.

UF/IFAS personnel outside Gainesville should adhere to their county government guidelines on closing. Personnel in other UF programs outside of Gainesville should consult their supervisors.

P.K. Yonge Developmental Research School is also closed Monday, and is operating on the same schedule as Alachua County schools.

Notices of any scheduling changes can be found through a link on the UF home page or on the information line at 866-UF-FACTS or 866-833-2287.

As a reminder, students and employees in need of immediate assistance should dial 911. Students may also contact U Matter We Care at umatter@ufl.edu or by calling 352-294-CARE (2273). Employees may call the Employee Assistance Program at 352-392-5787.

Edward Waters College will be closed for all activities beginning Friday with plans to resume normal campus operations on Wednesday.  Any classes, activities, or events that are scheduled to be held on campus between Sept. 8 and Sept. 12 have been canceled.

The University of Central Florida sent an alert to its students and staff Wednesday announcing that all academic programs and classes are canceled starting Thursday ahead of the hurricane. Campus will be closed from Friday-Monday. The university also decided to move UCF's football game against the University of Memphis to 6:30 p.m. Friday. UCF has also canceled all Family Weekend activities. For more information, click here.

Florida State College at Jacksonville will close all its campuses Friday and will keep them closed through Monday. All campuses and centers are planning to reopen Tuesday, but updates will be communicated to students and staff if that schedule changes. Included with this closure, the FSCJ BlueWave Men’s Basketball tryouts, originally scheduled for Saturday are being postponed. Information regarding a new date will be shared as a new date is available. Our emergency information can be found at http://www.fscj.edu/discover/public-safety-security/emergency-information.

All St. Johns River State College campuses (Orange Park, Palatka & St. Augustine) will be closed Friday and will remain closed until further notice. SJR State will continue to monitor developments relating to Hurricane Irma. Updates will be relayed via the College website, email, text alerts and Facebook as these resources remain accessible. 

Flagler College in St. Augustine is closing Thursday and will remain closed through Tuesday. College residence halls, Flagler Security and other services including the dining hall will continue on schedule, unless otherwise notified. Flagler expects to resume classes and services on Wednesday, Sept. 13, unless otherwise notified. For more information visit emergency.flagler.edu.

Nova Southeastern University said all classes will be canceled, effective at 8 a.m. Wednesday. This includes all campuses in Puerto Rico and Florida (Miami, Miramar, Ocean Campus, Fort Lauderdale, Fort Myers, Orlando, Tampa, Palm Beach, and Jacksonville). NSU will remain open on Wednesday for staff and faculty, and will close at 8 a.m. Thursday. Check nova.edu/hurricane for updates.

Keiser University campuses across the state, including the one in Jacksonville, are closed for students, faculty and staff through Monday. Classes are expected to resume Tuesday.

Trinity Baptist College will be canceling classes on Friday and Monday. Future updates will be posted to TBC.edu and the school's social media accounts.

Jones Technical Institute will close Friday and remain closed Monday. The school will make a decision on Tuesday later this week or over the weekend as officials monitor the storm. J-Tech is located at 8813 Western Way, Jacksonville, FL 32256. For more information, call 904-328-5600.

First Coast Technical College in St. Johns County will be closed Friday and Monday.