By Elizabeth Wilkes
—Updated as of 4:00 p.m., Wednesday, January 29—
Principal Dr. Ruiz sent an ‘all-clear’ message to all North Springs parents this afternoon, assuring that all students have been either picked up by their parents or by bus, and no students remain in the building.
School has been officially cancelled for tomorrow, Thursday, January 30, due to probable unsafe travel conditions. This will provide much-needed rest for the stranded students and the administrators and staff who stayed at the school for nearly 30 consecutive hours.
While the temperature only reached 30 degrees this afternoon, solar radiation successfully melted some of the snow and ice on major roadways. However, solid sheets of compacted precipitation still persist on many residential roads, particularly in shaded areas.
Students who spent the night at friends and neighbors are reported to have made it home by walking, many who chose to abandon their cars in parking lots and on roadsides. There are still countless abandoned cars throughout Metro Atlanta, contributing to unsafe driving conditions.
The predicted low temperatures in the teens tonight will cause refreezing and black ice through Thursday morning. Temperatures are forecasted to reach above 40 degrees tomorrow afternoon.
Authorities strongly recommend that vehicle travel be limited to emergencies through midday tomorrow to ensure everyone’s safety.
—Updated as of 10:00 a.m., Wednesday, January 29—
There remains an estimated 150 students with supervising teachers and administrators still at North Springs according to sources at school. That is 25, going on 26 hours in the same building. Buses are supposed to start rolling again at 10:00 a.m. this morning.
Buses that arrived late last night to take kids home could not make it far and slept for the night at a local Kroger. Some students are reported to have made it home this morning.
According to administrator Ms. Pagnotti, the hill to exit the parking lot is still covered in ice, so cars cannot make it out safely.
Kids slept on wrestling mats for the night and were provided pop tarts, breakfast bars, orange juice, and milk for breakfast this morning. Students are now separated among the media center, gym, and auditorium, anxiously awaiting bus and parent arrivals.
Student drivers who were unable to make it home resorted to spending the night at the homes of friends and relatives before conditions improve. Conditions do not look to be favorable any time soon, however, as temperatures are not set to rise above 31 degrees in metro Atlanta for today, Wednesday, January 29. Current temperatures are below 20 degrees Fahrenheit.
It has also been confirmed that Ms. Diener and Ms. Brown were staying at school to help supervise the stranded students.
Dr. Ruiz continues to assure parents that students are safe and will be safe until they are able to return home. The school phone is still taking calls at 770-551-2490.
—Updated as of 10:45 p.m.—
It has been reported that approximately 300 students remain stuck at North Springs along with administrators, teachers, and coaches who have stayed to supervise, which are said to include the principal, Dr. Eddie Ruiz, administrator Dorianne Pagnotti, Coach Steve Horton, Freddie Benschine, Lisa Myers, and Eric Smith as well as other teachers and staff of North Springs.
According to sources, over the course of nine hours, only three additional buses came to pick up students. Parents continue to attempt to get their kids home, some choosing to abandon their cars entirely and try to walk home.
After eating leftover corn and chicken balls for dinner, students were ushered into the gym and then the auditorium. Students are presently split between the auxiliary gym and auditorium, where they have remained since 9:00 p.m.
According to reports, some student drivers are still on the roads, pushing over nine hours now in the car in a desperate attempt to make it home.
Students at North Springs and across Fulton County are still stuck at school or stranded on the roads due to Winter Storm Leon.
Students who drive to school were the first to be dismissed from North Springs around 1:00 p.m., after an hour of snowfall.
According to Sandy Springs Councilman Gabriel Sterling, there were 800 kids still at North Springs as of 7:00 pm due to stranded and driverless buses. The current amount still at the school is uncertain.
Dr. Ruiz has kept parents updated throughout the day via automated phone calls. The remaining students at the Springs have been separated into classrooms based on bus route.
Parents are welcome to pick up their kids as conditions allow, but that might not happen any time soon. At this time, everyone is strongly encouraged to stay off the roads, as they are dangerously icy and highly congested.
Parents should be assured that students will be kept safe until they can be picked up. The schools will stay open as long as kids are still there, and several teachers and administrators remain with them.
In the meantime, drivers endured hours-long commutes, fighting the increasing amount of snow on the road and increasingly frustrated drivers.
Senior Megan Rodgers, who lives in Alpharetta, left her house at 1:30 p.m. to pick up her sister, freshman Kasey Rodgers. After four hours, she had Kasey, but had only travelled one mile down Roswell Road. “We just got back at 8:30 p.m.,” said Megan. “It was unbelievable.”
Junior Anna Deutsch also experienced a seven-hour trek home from school. “A commute that normally takes 20 minutes tops,” said Deutsch. “I am considered to be a new driver and have never driven in snow.”
Deutsch’s middle-school aged brother “was also told he might have to spend the night at his school tonight.” According to sources, 230 students are still stuck at Sandy Springs Middle School.
Stay tuned for additional updates.