Running again after two school days cancelled because of icy weather, the Bulloch County school system’s 154 buses travelled a total of more than 6,000 miles Thursday – as usual – with no weather-related accidents reported.
However, one bus empty of students was involved in an accident reportedly not related to the weather. It occurred after the morning routes had been completed, about 8:25 a.m., at the intersection of Georgia Highway 46 and Brooklet-Denmark Highway.
The driver stopped at the sign, looked both ways and proceeded across the intersection, striking a small truck, said Hayley Greene, the school system’s public relations specialist. She said the bus driver could not see the truck because of the blind spot of the school bus door. No injuries were reported, and the driver was taking a drug and alcohol test as required by policy after a collision.
But all buses ran smoothly while making their routes, Greene reported. Drivers had arrived at 6 a.m. to de-ice doors left closed since Monday, start up the buses and warm them for students.
“We only had a couple of buses that ran 10 minutes behind their normal schedule,” Greene said in an emailed statement. “Bus drivers reported no issues with ice or hazardous conditions on the roads this morning.”
Attendance was off slightly, but 91.5 percent of Bulloch County’s approximately 10,000 public school students returned to class Thursday.
Usual attendance rates are in the 96-100 percent range. Attendance was down more sharply among the youngest children, to 88 percent in prekindergarten and about 89 percent in kindergarten.
“It’s hard to determine if weather was the total factor or illness too because right before the winter storm hit we had the flu going around, upper respiratory infections, strep, so that was already making an impact ,” Greene said.
The schools will not need makeup days because of the Tuesday and Wednesday cancellation. State rules allow three emergency days out of the normal 180 school days, and Bulloch County has now used two of them.
Bulloch County School Superintendent Charles Wilson decided Monday to cancel school for Tuesday and Wednesday after hearing weather reports and conferring with the Bulloch County Emergency Management Agency. Georgia Southern University closed at noon Tuesday through Wednesday. Schools in some neighboring counties remain closed through Thursday but are back in session today.
The Statesboro area received much less ice than northern Georgia, and less than first predicted. But after heavier ice and snow in the Atlanta area left thousands of students stranded at schools overnight, Statesboro area officials are not expressing regret for the extra caution.
“We’re so fortunate in this area that we have such good communication with the Emergency Management Agency and all the public safety personnel,” Greene said. “That helps us get the information we need that goes into making a decision.”