SWFL parents waiting on schools to reopen so they can return to work

Reporter: Andrea Guerrero Writer: Matthew Seaver
Published: Updated:
(Credit: School District of Lee County)

While some schools reopen after Hurricane Ian, not everyone returned to school on Monday. Many kids are still at home, and it is putting a strain on working parents.

A single mom who spoke to WINK News said she needs to work to feed her kids, but she doesn’t know where to take them during the day.

Most parents in Lee County are ready to see their kids getting on the bus and heading back to school, and many need their kids back in the classroom because that means they can go back to work.

“It’s a huge deal. We are a family that relies on our paycheck every week for our budget for everything. So it’s going to be a huge impact on us it really is,” said Caroline Tomanek, a parent of kids whose schools haven’t reopened.

It’s been three weeks since Tomanek’s daughters Annie, Avery and Addie have been in their uniforms and back at Hector A. Cafferata, Jr. Elementary School.

Students across Lee County are slowly making their way back, but Tomanek is running out of options.

“We’re just kind of out of luck. It’s one of those things where we choose do I go to work, or do I miss work for a week and stay home with my children? Some people have that luxury, I do not,” said Tomanek.

The school district says it understands the frustration.

“We want your child back. We know you want your child back it gets us on the road to recovery,” said Rob Spicker, a spokesperson for the School District of Lee County. “I have access to the list, and I kept looking where the heck is my son’s school?”

One of the main reasons some schools are still closed is because of indoor air quality and water damage.

Lee County schools said Hector Cafereta students would be relocated to two different campuses until they can return to their school. It is not ideal, but Tomanek is happy to have some answers.

“I’m up all night thinking about it. It’s a bad deal. We made it through the hurricane now if we can make it through this, we’ll be back,” said Tomanek.

“We made a commitment to our family, to our staff that when you return to a building, it was going to be safe. Just hang on with us a little longer,” said Spicker.

If you want to relocate your student, you can start the process using their satellite offices, but once you send your child to another school, they must stay there for the rest of the school year.

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