Polk County public schools and Polk State College will be closed Thursday out of an abundance of caution for protection against winds expected from Hurricane Eta, expected to reach 35 to 40 mph in the morning with wind gusts up to 60 mph.

“In those conditions, it will be unsafe to transport students to and from school,” according to a school district statement. “The decision to close schools and offices is being made out of an abundance of caution, to ensure the safety of our students, parents and employees.”

Winds and rain generated by Hurricane Eta are expected to persist throughout Polk County today and Thursday, climaxing with winds between 35 and 40 mph around 6 a.m. Thursday, Polk County Emergency Services reports.

The storm, which became a hurricane again this morning, is expected to lose strength before making landfall along Florida’s Gulf coast between Tampa and Cross City Thursday morning and follow a path that puts it over Gainesville around midday Thursday.

After-school activities are cancelled for Thursday, and all schools are expected to reopen under normal schedules Friday morning.

The school district announcement does not affect charter or private schools. “If you attend a charter or private school, please contact your school for information on their storm preparations,” according to the district statement.

Polk State College will conduct scheduled classes tonight, according to an email from the college. “Students should check their courses in Canvas and their my.polk.edu emails for specific instructions and class cancellations from their professors,” it said.

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Barry Friedman founded Lkldnow.com in 2015 as the culmination of a career in print and digital journalism. Since 1982, he has used the tools of reporting, editing and content curation to help people in Lakeland understand their community better.

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