Schools struggle after Irma

Westchester Pic

Closures last until Sept. 15 as facilities go without power


Following lengthy rains and strong winds, schools in DeKalb County remained closed through Sept. 14 following the arrival of Hurricane Irma on Sept. 11 and 12.

 On the evening of Sept. 12, DeKalb County School District (DCSD) board of education member Stan Jester reported 62 schools were still without power. In addition, the district’s administrative complex—which houses DeKalb Early College Academy and Elizabeth Andrews High School—was also remained in the dark.

 According to Jester, 33 schools had limited accessibility because of downed trees or powerlines, 23 schools had downed trees on site and 79 schools were without internet and phone access.

 By Sept. 13, DCSD stated 32 schools remained without power—the same day a state of emergency was declared in DeKalb County. That number was reduced to 3 by the end of the day on Sept. 14, eliciting a statement from DCSD superintendent R. Stephen Green.

 “Our team and the community have gone above and beyond to expedite our recovery. While our status is not yet optimum, we are prepared to reopen schools safely and effectively,” Green said. “We ask everyone to be patient as we get back on our feet. There may be some delays with student transportation as we navigate through road closures. In the end, we will make appropriate adjustments and always keep the best interests of students at heart.”

 Students were advised to arrive at bus stops early on Sept. 15 to allow for a smooth transition.

Avondale Elementary School

 City Schools of Decatur remained closed through Sept. 14 because of power outages and road closures. The district rescheduled its monthly board of education meeting to Sept. 14 at 8 p.m.—originally to be held on Sept. 12 at 6:30 p.m.—because of the storm.

 On Sept. 13, Decatur superintendent David Dude said four schools—Clairemont, Westchester Winnona Park and College Heights elementary schools—remained without power. He said one other school, 4/5 Academy, was “experiencing some issues.”

 “Numerous roads are still blocked throughout Decatur,” Dude said. “We are working on contingency plans to still hold school if we are able to get down to one or two small elementary schools without power.”

 Decatur’s schools opened though Clairemont and Westchester remained without power. Students from Clairemont began their day at the school but were bussed to Renfro Middle whereas students from Westchester were bussed to Decatur High.

 By the afternoon of Sept. 14, power was restored to all school facilities.

 Oglethorpe University resumed evening classes Sept. 12 when power was restored to part of its campus. The college’s normal schedule resumed Sept. 13.

Emory 3

 Emory University opened for normal business hours on Sept. 13. The college credited the work by its Campus Services Department as well as its Critical Event Preparedness and Response team in maintaining the school grounds and keeping walkways safe for students, staff and faculty.

 Georgia State University opened all of its campuses Sept. 13. The Decatur campus did not open until noon due to power outages.

 Agnes Scott College in downtown Decatur resumed operations on Sept. 14. The college was without power beginning the afternoon of Sept. 11 and remained without power until Sept. 13, according to a message from president Elizabeth Kiss.

 Georgia Piedmont Technical College remained closed until Sept. 14.

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