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SPECIAL ILLUSTRATION

Most T&D Region schools, including public schools, will be closed through Friday as Hurricane Matthew heads toward the South Carolina coast.

S.C. Gov. Nikki Haley issued an order on Tuesday closing all public schools and government offices in the southern and eastern half of the state for the rest of the week so that people in low-lying areas along the coast can be evacuated efficiently.

Matthew is projected to hit the state as a Category 2 or 3 storm late in the week, and Haley said she will begin the evacuation unless the forecast changes before Wednesday morning.

Orangeburg Consolidated School Districts Three, Four and Five issued a joint statement on Tuesday afternoon saying classes were cancelled Oct. 5-7 to help facilitate the evacuation of coastal areas and provide shelter for evacuees.

“Due to the anticipated traffic issues associated with lane reversals on I-26 and heavy traffic volume on secondary evacuation routes, all district employees are excused from reporting to work on these dates unless they receive specific instructions otherwise,” the release stated.

All afterschool activities and athletic events are also cancelled and will be rescheduled at a later date.

The reason for closing the schools is not that major weather problems are currently expected for this area, but some of the schools are going to become shelters for coastal evacuees, OCSD4 Superintendent Dr. Tim Newman said.

Two of District Four’s schools, Hunter-Kinard-Tyler and Edisto High schools, are designated shelters during disasters, he said.

Orangeburg-Wilkinson and Bethune-Bowman high schools are also designated as shelters, according to OCSD5 spokesman Bill Clark.

Both Bamberg school districts and Calhoun County Public Schools will also be closed.

Denmark-Olar High School is a designated shelter, according to Superintendent Dr. Thelma Sojourner.

South Carolina State University released a statement saying that all classes and activities, including the football game with Bethune-Cookman University, have been cancelled until Saturday night.

Orangeburg-Calhoun Technical College will be closed and all classes are cancelled through Friday. The college will resume its normal schedule on Monday.

Denmark-Olar Technical College has cancelled all classes and activities until Monday.

All classes and activities are cancelled at Claflin University, but essential personnel are asked to report as scheduled.

In addition, all OCAB Head Start Centers will be closed Wednesday through Friday.

Classes will go on as usual Wednesday at Orangeburg Christian Academy, Wesley Christian Academy, Holly Hill Academy and Voorhees College. Each school says decisions will be made later about Thursday and Friday.

Orangeburg Preparatory School will hold classes as usual on Wednesday and Thursday, but an in-service day scheduled for Friday has been cancelled.

Matthew is the strongest hurricane to threaten South Carolina since Hurricane Hugo hit the state in 1969.

Contact the writer: dlinder-altman@timesanddemocrat.com or 803-533-5529 

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