Marion County schools prepare to keep students warm, deal with cold temps

Hard-freeze warning issued overnight in Marion County

MARION COUNTY, Fla. – Marion County is one of the Florida counties dealing with a hard-freeze warning overnight Wednesday  into Thursday, which means kids getting ready to go to school will need to bundle up. 

Officials with the Marion County School District have taken several precautions to ensure everyone stays safe in the cold days ahead.

A hard-freeze warning is in effect for Marion and Flagler counties from 6 p.m. Wednesday to 11 a.m. Thursday. A hard freeze means temperatures will be 27 degrees or less for at least two hours.

"With the flu going around and everything, it's important to keep them warm," said Miriam Murray, who was picking up her grandchildren from school Wednesday.

Buses for the district are being turned on earlier to get the heat running and school buildings are being heated overnight.

"I compare it to kids who are hungry can't learn," school district spokesman Kevin Christian said. "Kids who are cold, can't learn either. So it's important that kids are dressed appropriately, they don't need to be thinking how cold it is. They need to be focusing on what's going on in that classroom. That's why they're at school."

Inside one school district office, coats, hats and gloves are piled up ready to be handed out so no student is left out in the cold. 

Suzanne McGuire, the director of family, school and community engagement, is in charge of getting donated warm clothes to students who need them before the hard freeze arrives.

"We're getting requests from guidance counselors and principals," McGuire said. "We're bagging up and getting them to the schools immediately so the child can get them today and be ready for tomorrow morning's cold weather."

On Wednesday morning, the district gave out clothes to 80 different students  and McGuire expected to give out even more as temperatures continue to drop.

Anyone interested in donating new or gently used clothes can drop them off at the district's east office 1614 E. Fort King St. in Ocala. The district said its biggest need is girls' clothing for ages 7, 8, 10, 12, 14 and 16 years old, and boys clothing for ages 10, 12, 14 and 16. 

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