More than 3,500 Fulton County students spent Tuesday night at their schools as precarious roads and gridlocked traffic meant transporting them home safely became increasingly dangerous as the day wore on.
With daylight, buses were able to run on a limited basis and by noon Wednesday 53 of the system’s 101 schools were empty of students. That still left 48 schools housing more than 1,500 students as transportation arrangements continued.
Facebook postings by school staff who stayed overnight with students described making dinner and breakfast for the kids, and keeping them comfortable overnight.
“Been up now for 24 hours with no sleep in the near future,” wrote Karen Dixon, a staff member at Alpharetta High at midnight Tuesday. “The students all went to sleep and most of the staff still here have been awake all night. The students will be waking up soon and we will be feeding them breakfast and hoping they will get home safely.”
The schools which had students overnight were located across the county, but concentrated primarily in Sandy Springs and South Fulton. In North Fulton, schools which had the most overnight “guests” included those along the Holcomb Bridge corridor of Roswell, including Centennial High, Holcomb Bridge Middle and Hillside elementary.
Of the 1,539 students still at school at noon Wednesday, only 157 remained at North Fulton schools.
Reports of good Samaritans rescuing stranded students were prevalent last night, including in Milton where the community helped rescue three busloads of stranded kids.
In South Fulton, a group of 54 students from Langston Hughes High School spent the night at an Atlanta Fire Station after being rescued from their disabled bus by National Guard members.
But even in schools which did not need overnight lodging, staff members found themselves staying well into the evening, waiting for parents to get to the schools. Reports of travel times from downtown Atlanta to North Fulton were in excess of eight hours meaning many kids stayed put until parents could get there.
At Cogburn Woods Elementary, two busloads of kids left the school before 5 p.m., only to return to the school hours later because of road conditions. At other area schools, including Northwestern and Hopewell middle schools, buses could not get to the schools until nearly after dark to begin pick ups.
School officials are communicating to the general public primarily through social media, posting a message on the website at noon Wednesday thanking parents for their patience as they work to get kids home safely.