Hurricane Florence updates from the Department of Public Instruction

RALEIGH — As Hurricane Florence continues to affect the state, the North Carolina Department of Public Instruction is providing the following updates.

“We are nowhere near the end of this storm or its devastation, but we have already begun responding when and how we can,” said State Superintendent Mark Johnson. “Even as many schools in the state return to normal this week, others will be in varying conditions of response and restoration. Every one of our team members is doing what we can and will continue to help.”

According to unofficial DPI data, 49 of North Carolina’s 115 school districts were closed Monday, and another 23 were operating on a delay. For charter schools, 71 were closed Monday and six were operating on delay. At least 1.2 million of North Carolina’s 1.5 million public school students have missed some school because of the storm.

Assistance from DPI will take many forms, but the most immediate work is summarized below.

— N.C. Public School Insurance Fund

The Department of Public Instruction is the property insurance provider for many educational institutions in North Carolina, insuring $28 billion of property statewide via the N.C. Public School Insurance Fund. More than $9 billion of the DPI-insured $28 billion is located east of Interstate 95.

Agency staff estimate that Hurricane Florence losses will exceed those from Hurricane Matthew in 2016. In that storm, losses totaled $14 million for DPI-insured property.

— Accountability

DPI is encouraging districts and schools that have experienced disruptions in this school year’s state-mandated testing to contact their regional accountability coordinators to discuss options.

— School Nutrition

Statewide, school nutrition staff employed by districts and charter schools play an important role during natural disasters. Staff of DPI’s School Nutrition division, in collaboration with the N.C. Department of Agriculture and the N.C. Department of Health and Human Services, support school-based staff by answering questions, directing resources, and coordinating with federal officials at the U.S. Department of Agriculture.

School nutrition directors have been determining the most extreme need for food and have been instrumental in moving food, getting it to shelters, and other aspects of food-related disaster support.

On Monday, President Donald Trump amended the Major Presidential Disaster Declaration so that it now includes 18 counties in the state. This declaration gives local school nutrition directors in the disaster counties all possible flexibility to utilize food to serve families and communities according to local need.