Public schools in Florida's Collier County are set to open Thursday, although it's unclear how many students will show up for class, according to the school district.
The reopening will not only provide a sense of normalcy for kids during this time of recovery, but it will also help parents head back to work, said Chad Oliver, Executive Director of Communications and Community Engagement for Collier County Public Schools.
“Schools are really like an engine,” Oliver he told CNN. “We drive so much of the economy.”
However, Oliver says several families showed up at a school donation drive Wednesday to say goodbye to teachers. Their homes had been destroyed and they were moving elsewhere, he said.
The destruction caused by last week's Category 4 storm compounded a problem that already existed in the city of Naples — the difficulty in finding affordable rental housing, Oliver said.
Meanwhile, more than 22% of the teachers live in hard-hit Lee County, but Oliver says the district is confident it is ready to reopen with the help of more than 800 substitute teachers.
“Our teachers are cut from a different cloth,” Oliver said, many of them coming in on an already scheduled day off to get their classrooms ready for tomorrow.
Around 50,000 students currently attend schools in the Collier County School District.
According to Collier County Schools’ website, free breakfast and lunch will be available to all students through Oct. 31.