Fort Myers Beach mom fights to get beach school open again

Reporter: Claire Galt
Published: Updated:

A Fort Myers Beach mom is working toward getting her children’s school back open after Hurricane Ian caused it to shut down.

Erin Fields is mother to 8-year-old Casey and 10-year-old Dylan. WINK News got to their home before sunrise on Friday to see how commuting to San Carlos Park Elementary School affects them both. The commute is about a 40-minute drive.

8-year-old Casey and 10-year-old Dylan. (Credit: WINK News)

Snuggled on the couch and wrapped in fuzzy blankets, the two children spoke to WINK News with puffy eyes.

“I’m really tired,” said one of the kids.

The children said they now sleep on top of their bed covers, it’s a tactic they say makes it quicker for them to wake up in the morning.

“I miss my school.”

After the 5:25 a.m. alarm, the kids have 38 minutes to eat breakfast, brush their teeth, pick out their clothes and pack their bags to get out the door.

“This is my pillow I bring so I can sleep on the bus,” Casey said.

Fort Myers Beach Elementary was a 2 to 3-minute ride away from their home.

Fort Myers Beach Elementary. (Credit: WINK News)

“These kids are hilarious. But they’re also like, they’re struggling,” Fields said.

Fields has sent more than 50 emails to the Lee County school district and the Gov. Ron DeSantis, copying WINK News on each one.

She has also shown up to every school board meeting.

“To have no answers after four months is, you know, they’re just not doing their job,” Fields said.

Sitting down on her black kitchen stools, she spoke to WINK News with her back toward her kids so they wouldn’t see her crying.

Seeing her kids sleep on top of her covers hurts her.

“What these kids have to do is a direct result of the superintendent and the school board,” she said.

When WINK News reached out to the school district to find out whether there were any plans in the works to reduce that 40-minute commute, the response was not yet, because there is still no plan for what the future of Fort Myers Beach Elementary will be.

The school board member representing the district, Chris Patriccia, did not respond.

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