Other educational institutions are back open, but the Bulloch County Schools will remain closed Friday after winds from the tropical storm that had been Hurricane Michael knocked out electrical power to the 10,000-student system’s bus transportation hub.
The transportation garage and operations center is on Simons Road, near William James Middle School. A tree or large limb that fell across the road had been removed by late Thursday morning. But several other trees remained dead weight across utility lines near the road, and in front of the transportation complex the snapped top of a pole with attached switch, insulators and other fixtures dangled.
“We’ve got some significant damage at our main transportation garage, which is also where our data centers are held, so we have no data and no transportation center,” said Hayley Greene, Bulloch County Schools public relations and marketing specialist.
Other trees were blocking the bus fueling station, she said.
Wind had also knocked out the electricity to a few of the 15 schools in the system.
Nevils Elementary School and Mattie Lively Elementary School remained without power at 3 p.m. Thursday. Power to the schools could probably be restored by the end of the day, Greene said, but the transportation garage with the data center was the decisive factor. Until power was restored there, she said, the schools’ computer networks and telephone service would also be affected.
“Georgia Power gave us the option of making it a priority, but to do so would take priority off of residential restorations, so we just weren’t willing to tell them to do that,” Greene said.
It would also have meant doing this to salvage one day of school between two storm days and a week-long break. Friday had been the last day on the Bulloch County Schools calendar before fall break, next Monday through Friday, coinciding with the Kiwanis Ogeechee Fair.
Charles Wilson had acted Tuesday to cancel classes and activities for Wednesday
and Thursday, so Friday is the third class day cancelled because of Hurricane
The current school calendar provides Dec. 20 and 21 as potential make-up days for weather cancellations. School system officials will decide at a Board of Education meeting in November whether class days cancelled this week will be made up, Greene said.
Portal Middle High School's and Statesboro High School's varsity football games, both away, will go ahead as scheduled on Friday.
Bulloch Academy open
largest private school in Statesboro, Bulloch Academy, also experienced a power
failure, which temporarily stopped the water supply from its private well. But
the power was restored about 3 p.m., the water system was certified ready at
4:50 p.m., and BA Head of School Leisa Houghton announced shortly afterward
that the academy would resume a normal schedule Friday.
Bulloch Academy’s power had gone out around 2 a.m. Thursday during the storm, she had said in an earlier email. It was part of the widespread outages affecting Excelsior Electric Membership Corporation lines.
“We do not have any downed trees on campus that we can see would be causing the issue,” Houghton wrote. “The campus appears to have fared well during the storm. Our main power comes from Pulaski Road, and the EMC power outage map shows multiple outages.”
Charter school Statesboro STEAM Academy held classes from 8 a.m. until noon Wednesday but then closed for both Thursday and Friday, according on an announcement that remained on its website.
Georgia Southern University updated its Alert Center webpage to announce that all three campuses would resume their normal class schedules and business operations Friday.
“Those who are unable to return to work or class for individual reasons are reminded to work with their professor or supervisor,” stated the announcement.
At the time of the announcement, 12:30 p.m. Thursday, there were no power outages on any of the campuses, it stated.
The university had cancelled all classes and activities at its Statesboro, Armstrong and Liberty campuses Wednesday and Thursday. At the Statesboro campus and on the Armstrong campus in Savannah, food service staff served regular meals with a reduced menu for breakfast and lunch Wednesday, then handed out bags of sandwiches and snacks to students with meal plans to sustain them for three meals, through lunch Thursday.
But the Dining Commons on the Statesboro campus and The Galley on the Armstrong campus reopened with a limited menu Thursday night before returning to regular business today.
East Georgia State College announced that all of its campuses – Statesboro, Swainsboro and Augusta – would also resume normal business operations and class schedules Friday.
Ogeechee Technical College also closed Wednesday and Thursday for the storm but doesn’t have Friday classes anyway.
Herald reporter Al Hackle may be reached at (912) 489-9458.