'It took a giant effort to ensure we were ready for Dorian'
While we are all breathing a huge sigh of relief that Brevard County was not impacted as badly as initially feared, we cannot ignore the stress and uncertainty we’ve collectively experienced over the past week.
For a school district of our size, it is a unique challenge to determine the correct course of action and implement decisions in preparation for, during, and immediately following a storm of this nature.
It took a giant effort to ensure we were ready for Dorian.
There are many factors involved in preparing our schools to weather the unpredictable forces of a hurricane – from shuttering windows to making schools and classrooms hurricane-ready, to securing hundreds of school buses, evaluating cafeteria coolers and food inventories and powering down vital systems in an orderly manner.
I want to recognize BPS’ Facilities and Educational Technology teams, our school staff – custodians, teachers, support staff, administrators, on-site techs – for working to getting our schools and district offices prepared; and I know there are so many more who deserve recognition.
When the Brevard County Emergency Operations Center (EOC) made the decision to evacuate, they activated nine of our schools to serve as shelters, which required additional preparations on the part of teachers and staff.
Classrooms needed to be cleared and materials packed away to accommodate evacuees, and space needed to be made to receive and store deliveries of supplies from FEMA.
Various staff from across the district were assigned to manage shelters and the EOC 24 hours a day for the duration of the evacuation order; away from their homes and families in order to serve our community.
Our Food & Nutrition Services teams provided more than 9,000 meals for well over 1,000 people during the four days the shelters were open, and our SROs were on-site to ensure the safety and security of all.
Once the storm passed, our facilities team, administrators and head custodians moved quickly to assess the condition of each of our 84 schools and district offices.
Shelters closed at noon on Wednesday and teams worked throughout the afternoon and evening, as well as into Thursday, to clean and prepare schools to resume operations.
I recognize that tending to buildings is not the only preparations that have been necessary. Our bus drivers, some of whom helped to transport elderly citizens to shelters earlier in the week, were up early this morning and ready to ready to kick-off the school day.
And our teachers spent part of the week adjusting their lesson plans to get our kids back to the business of learning. I know they were eager to once again open their classrooms and their hearts to welcome them back today.
I am truly grateful for the valiant work of our shelter managers, maintenance, security, and operations teams, and our teachers for stepping up, particularly at a time of both personal and professional uncertainty, to prepare and protect our schools and to proudly serve our community, both pre- and post-storm.
Many thanks to our BPS families for your patience and flexibility as we worked through difficult decisions this past week. I hope today was a welcomed return to normalcy.
As we get back into our school routine – quality learning, food services for thousands and countless other supports — we will be keeping the children and residents of the Bahamas in our thoughts and close in our hearts.
ABOUT DR. MARK MULLINS
Mark Mullins has been Brevard Public Schools Superintendent since June 2018 and previously served as deputy superintendent and chief operating officer of Brevard Public Schools since 2016.
In that role, he supervised Transportation Services, Food and Nutrition Services, Purchasing and Warehouse Services and District and School Security.
Mullins began his career with Brevard Public Schools in 1994 as a mathematics teacher and went on to be assistant principal at Palm Bay Magnet High and Southwest Middle, principal at Clearlake Middle and area superintendent for the south region of the district.
He earned a bachelor’s degree from Florida State University and master’s and doctorate degrees in educational leadership from the University of Central Florida.
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