Snow: Are your kids still stuck at school? Family stuck on the road?

I am hearing from a lot of friends that their kids although “released early” are actually still stuck at school. Also hearing about family members stuck in traffic jams with cars running on fumes. Let us know what is going on with your family and at your school. Are your kids stuck? Did the buses show up? What is your school’s plan? Will your spouse stay at work or risk the drive home? What’s the back up plan for the kids?

30 comments Add your comment

Techmom

January 28th, 2014
6:06 pm

One co-worker left at 1:45 to get her son from daycare 6 miles from her house- she still hasn’t made it. Another in Roswell had the after-school bus pick her kids up from school to take them to the daycare since she knew she couldn’t make it in time… 3 1/2 hours later the kids still haven’t made it to the daycare. Things are bad on the northside- they just did not predict the snow was going to hit that far north. Similar story to several co-workers in Bham. I bet you anything the schools cancel next time at even the hint of snow.

So thankful we work from home. Hope everyone has an extra dose of patience.

Theresa Walsh Giarrusso

January 28th, 2014
6:19 pm

I think it’s really scary to be separated from your kids — with someone else driving or even yourself driving!

Helen

January 28th, 2014
6:41 pm

At noon I told my hair stylist (Austell) that it was REALLY snowing and where were her kids? She said at school. I asked if the school had emergency alerts and she said they didn’t have that in place. I told her to call and get her kids home…now! I’m from a snow state. The school didn’t let her kids leave school until 1:45 pm and it’s now 6:40 pm and she has no idea where her 8 y/o and 10 y/o children are! She is in gridlock and can’t get there. She is getting hysterical. The kids don’t have heavy coats, gloves, boots. Why did these school officials delay? University of West Georgia told their students and professors to leave at 11 am. Yet elementary school students are kept until almost 2 pm? And no emergency texts? NUTS!

Kat

January 28th, 2014
7:38 pm

School was dismissed at 2:30 for middle-schoolers. School told parents if they could get there then they should come pick up their kids. So, parents who might have gone home clogged up the roads to the schools, then the school buses couldn’t get through. At 4:30 pm, the high school students showed up to our neighborhood having walked home. It is now after 7:30 pm, and our neighbor has not reached his son, and the bus has not brought his son home. Great job, Cobb! (sarcasm)

Ann

January 28th, 2014
8:03 pm

My spouse has been trying to get home from work (Alpharetta to Roswell) since 1:00 pm. Seven hours later, he is still 2 miles from home. My son is homeschooled, so we just hung out sledding, etc.

K's Mom

January 28th, 2014
8:05 pm

We are in East Alabama. Because students were killed in Enterprise, AL a number of years ago by tornadoes our school leaders tend to call school early and often. Sometimes they are criticized, but in our community everyone seems to be home and I am grateful. Birmingham is a completely different story. I think they expected the snow to come in late afternoon and it is as big of a mess as Atlanta. I hope and pray that all families are reunited soon and get home safe.

My 3 1/2yo is thrilled with the snow and it is our 21 month old’s first snow. We are going to build a snowman tomorrow and our 3 1/2yo has already named him Olaf.

Ann

January 28th, 2014
8:07 pm

It’s been 2 years since we had a good snow here in North Fulton. Schools should have been closed today. Too bad all these kids stuck at school and on the roads all afternoon missed out on the childhood joy of having a little fun playing in the fresh snow.

A reader

January 28th, 2014
8:34 pm

I left work near Perimeter Mall literally in the nick of time at 12:20. The snow was already coming down hard and was sticking. It took me about an hour to get home which is a typical rush hour commute for me, and I felt very lucky. Already the road were started to get slick, bridges were freezing, and traffic was getting thick. Fulton County announced that schools were closing exactly when they closed, no lead time. One set of buses are used for elementary, middle, and high school. Not very good planning there. Luckily the high schools is less than 2 miles from the house mostly thru neighborhood streets and my daughter drove to school so she was able to make it home quickly. The kids who had to ride the bus were stuck at the school until almost 6.

Fulton County blew it. They should have closed at the first sign of snow in South Fulton, which got hit first. Instead they waited until after the road were already bad throughout the entire county.

The weather forecasters blew it too. Last night before I went to bed they were predicting that all of Metro ATL would be hit. Then overnight they said that it would only hit south of the city. The school officials made decisions based upon that. Then a few hours later, the forecasters said “oops! Never mind. All of ATL will be hit hard.” The South is not equipped to deal with ice and snow storms because they only hit every few years. Literally, 5 days out of every 700-900 days. That is why the city shuts down. I would rather the forecaster err on the side of caution and tell us that it will snow or ice and then have a false alarm than the mess we are in now!

mom2alex&max

January 28th, 2014
8:50 pm

It took me SIX HOURS to get from Midtown to East Cobb. That’s 16 miles in SIX HOURS. And I had to walk the last 2 miles!!! This is a disgrace on the part of GA DOT.

arealmomcan

January 28th, 2014
9:09 pm

it is 9:07 pm and my child is still stuck at school. My husband left work in Marietta around 3:00 pm and he is still stuck in traffic don’t know when he will reach westlake high school to pick up our son…..

FCM

January 28th, 2014
10:17 pm

I have a friend who left Emory at 11:30 got home at 10pm. Another’s husband is on 75 & 285 after 9 hours on the road from Alpharetta to Marietta.

The MS kids spent 2.5 hours on the bus (walking the last 2 min) to get home at 6:30 (Cobb)…but they are home. My neighbor has both my children for an impromptu sleepover. I am VERY appreciative b/c I could not get home (left at 1 PM slid twice and could think of no way to get home without hills and again, COBB). So I am back in the office with 2 others, we are watching the roads for when we can go home (probably in the morning).

To those whose family are in traffic or schools I am praying for them.

Yes the schools and the DOT have much to answer .

m.n.atl

January 28th, 2014
10:51 pm

my daughter had to walk home with another group of kids from Phipps plaza to lenox rd. When I was checking the list for the schools that were going to be closed I had a feeling that I shouldn’t have sent her to school. all the schools should have closed for the day. at least they could have sent the bus riders on the bus like they usually go and not have them in school till ten. The schools have a lot of explaining to do

Mother of 2

January 28th, 2014
11:30 pm

Grateful to have my husband and children home with me. Many are not so lucky. Predicting weather is difficult. But it was snowing in North Fulton at 11:00, and it was coming down hard and sticking to the roads. I assume that it began earlier in South Fulton. Early dismissals are always a logistical nightmare, but people are still stuck on the roads and stuck in the schools. When you don’t own plows, you simply have to cancel school if there s 100%chance of snow and cold temps.

Burp

January 28th, 2014
11:55 pm

Gov Deal and Mayor Reed are very skilled at deflection.

Theresa Walsh Giarrusso

January 29th, 2014
12:15 am

FCM — thank goodness your neighbors took them in — hearing on FB lots of people helping others. So scary to be trapped on the freeway when it is this cold plus scary driving. Glad you’re safe —

it will be interesting to hear from the DOT and schools tomorrow.

DB

January 29th, 2014
1:41 am

@FCM: My husband is down at Emory, also. After sitting in the parking deck for almost half an hour without moving, he gave up and walked almost miles down Clairemont to the Decatur MARTA station. We are within a couple of blocks of one of the North Line stations, so it only took him an hour and a half to get home after an hour walk. Luckily, he also had his “snow boots” on (lots of traction!) and a heavy hooded coat so the hour-long walk to the MARTA station wasn’t too bad (he generally walks 3-6 miles a day, he just figured he got his workout in for the day!) His car is still at Emory, and will probably be there until Thursday. :-) There’s about 20-30 people who decided to stay at our office rather than get in that mess — they found the leftover wine from the Christmas party, and someone braved a few blocks to Costco to grab some pizzas, so they are snug and warm :-) I was really lucky — I had waited at the office, thinking that the traffic would start to die down after the lunch crowd got home, but I got nervous about 5:30 and started worrying about the falling temperatures. I remembered a cut through an apartment complex that is usually gated, but it saved me probably 2-3 hours on a couple of major roads and got me home in a half-hour instead of hours and hours.

CMW

January 29th, 2014
1:47 am

I think its easy to blame the schools here in AL, but in all honesty we were told there would be a light dusting. If they would have closed schools and it would have been a light dusting ppl would be complaining that they wasted PTO because they had to stay at home. I believe the schools here in AL did the best that they could with what they knew. I mean seriously they don’t predict the weather and they wouldn’t have needed to close the school for an hour of snow. In AL its pretty awful on 65S and hwy 150 like people have been on the HWY for 6-8 hours. Most of my co-workers that live past the Lakeshore exit are stuck they’ve left their cars and walked home (5-7 mi.). Some that left early in the day are returning this evening saying there was no way they were gonna make it. My BF is trappin in a hospital on a hill becuase there are accidents at both exits. I’m stuck because I work smack in the middle of the HWY thats clogged. My son is at school and my babysitter is stuck at our house. I’m suprisingly okay though, its an experience one that won’t be soon forgotten.

FCM

January 29th, 2014
7:57 am

Cobb has 4 days in Feb (2/13 – 2/18) off they could have called school Tues and Wed this week then announced school was in session any of those days…we would have been FINE! And for the those who had vacation plans…well you could just say your kid was sick…b/c the absentee policy is stupid.

WitchyWoman

January 29th, 2014
8:10 am

Playing Devil’s Advocate here—>Since the parents got the same report that the schools and everyone else did it is completely reasonable that they could have just kept their kids home. No one wants to take personal responsibility in the fact that they SENT their kids out into what became a mess. A school is just a building and I heard no stories of schools threatening anyone if they didn’t arrive that day. The parents are just as at fault as the schools. No one wants to take off from work or have to find daycare…especially if it didn’t snow. NOW everyone wants to blame the schools. Since when did the schools employ all the people of Atlanta. I can gaurantee (sp?) that the majority of the people stuck on roads yesterday and today are not school employees…I mean can we blame them too..because if they had just stayed at work a little longer the roads wouldn’t have become so jammed.

WitchyWoman

January 29th, 2014
8:11 am

Of course I can sit back and have all kinds of thoughts on the subject cause I am not there. I am in south FL where it was 81 degrees yesterday.

HB

January 29th, 2014
10:20 am

Well, Atlanta learned what DC did a few years ago during Commutergeddon. The amount of snowfall is not as important as the timing. It doesn’t sound to me like this storm was as bad as the ice storms that hit in 2000 (my last year there), but if it hits during the workday, instead of on the weekend as those did, things get messy in a hurry. It’s made worse by everyone closing around the same time. The fed here tried to do a rolling early close — told everyone to leave 2 hours early. Not 2 hours before closing, but two hours before their own normal schedule, in the hopes that the commute would mimic a normal day instead of everyone fleeing at once. Unfortunately, people ignored instructions because it wasn’t snowing yet (that was the point).

One big difference between our disaster and yours, though, was though many were stuck on roads all night, tens of thousands of people made it home with little to no delay– they took Metro. It sounds like MARTA kept running ok yesterday, but many people I know who live and work within a mile of stations tried to drive home and got stuck for 8+ hours. It’s like public transportation doesn’t even cross anyone’s mind down there as an alternative. Up here, people who normally drive take Metro in and out when severe weather is expected. Our rail usually runs pretty well if snow totals are under 8″, and it really doesn’t seem to be even mildly affected until at least 3-4″. I have a feeling people are going to rail at GADOT and scream about the lack of preparedness for the roads, but what y’all really need is to build up your transit system and add commuter rail! Atlanta is just too big of a city to continue depending on roads alone.

FCM

January 29th, 2014
10:54 am

@ Witchy, I would have been glad to wfh with the kids yesterday.

FCM

January 29th, 2014
10:57 am

HB MARTA doesn’t run out to Cobb. I had a friend offer me a bed if I took MARTA out to her. However since getting my kids (who are very safe with a neighbor) is on my mind I am waiting it out.

HB

January 29th, 2014
11:30 am

That’s my point. MARTA should run to Cobb and Gwinnett and commuter rail should go to the exurbs. You were smart to wait it out rather than get on the road since MARTA wasn’t a good option for you. As I said, my friends live AND work within a mile of stations, but immediately hopped in their cars. It’s sad that public transit is so limited in Atlanta that it doesn’t even cross people’s minds the few times that it is the better option.

FCM

January 29th, 2014
11:40 am

HB now you are talking different counties…and budgets.

FCM

January 29th, 2014
12:00 pm

HB

January 29th, 2014
12:07 pm

Post got eaten. Short version — multiple counties is no excuse. DC’s metrorail runs through at least 3 counties in 2 states plus the District, which falls under both local rule and the fed. Metro area governments and the state should come together and get it done.

Ann

January 29th, 2014
12:22 pm

@WitchyWoman – I agree that parents can choose to keep their kids home even if the schools are open, but I think that viewpoint overlooks that we are paying big bucks to administrative leaders of these large school systems to make decisions. And, the job expectation is that they make good decisions.

Yes, weather is not always predictable, but when I checked weather.com the day before, it indicated 100% chance of snow Tuesday afternoon. Exactly when it would hit and how much and how far north may have varied, but for my North Fulton town, it listed between 80% and 100% chance of snow the day before during the few times I checked the forecaset. To me, that’s a pretty definite forecast of snow. Avossa, the Fulton County superintendent, stated they thought it would roll in light in the afternoon and start sticking around 4 to 5. So, they believed it would, in fact, snow; but, they took a chance that they could squeeze by and get kids home by 4 to 5. That didn’t even leave an hour margin of error.

BG927

January 29th, 2014
6:58 pm

I posted this on Get Schooled and I thought I would post it here as well. I’m a middle school teacher at a metro school – one that hosted children last night…this came from my experiences during the events of yesterday:

I’ve been thinking about the events of yesterday and last night and I have some important tips for parents.

1. Make sure your contact info at school is up-to-date, and ideally that school has more than one number for you or a family member, and at least one other number for someone like a friend or neighbor. I know we are transient here, but if you don’t know your immediate neighbors, go introduce yourself or make contact with at least one of your child’s friend’s parents. Exchange numbers.

2. Make sure your child knows your phone number – NOT just that it is stored in his or her phone. I can’t tell you how much that delayed contacting parents yesterday when kids didn’t know their parents’ numbers, and their phones had died. Backup plan for younger kids? Write it on an index card, and keep it in the phone case – some phones cases could have it written with a sharpie on the inside.

Between the spotty cell service, and dead cell batteries, we had to use the old-fashioned landline – you need to know a number for that!

3. Have an emergency plan. Discuss different scenarios – this is where communication with friends and neighbors is HUGE. We had a student who was supposed to go home with another student’s mom – the boy didn’t know, his phone was dead, and he ended up at school much longer than needed. Create an emergency phone tree.

The emergency plan should also include the direction of STAYING where they are safest and where an adult who can contact others, especially if parents have no way of getting to them. We had a case yesterday of a bus getting stranded and then kids (high school) taking off and walking. Some headed home; others back to school, but in either case they were no longer where parents were last told they were.

4. Realize that this may be the south, but we get weather that is down-right northern and need to dress that way. Even if “the cold doesn’t bother” your child, make them keep at least a pair of gloves and a hat in their backpack. Make them dress for the weather as best you can, and make sure they have good shoes for walking when the forecast is ominous.

5. Tell them to stay off their cell phones in emergencies. I know it’s hard – we can’t even keep them off their phones in school half the time. But we had so many with dead phones because they were texting friends updating their social media statuses. Many had no chargers (and even if they did, that wouldn’t help the ones on buses). Texting uses less energy and bandwidth than calls, so let them know if a call can’t get through to try a text (to family, not friends).

6. MAKE SURE YOUR CHILD KNOWS THEIR ADDRESS. Not just the name of the subdivision. Not just the name of the complex. Not that it’s” near the Kroger” or “near the Waffle House.”

Ann

January 30th, 2014
12:10 pm

Great advice BG927. Thanks for writing.