Posted: Thursday, September 7, 2017

5:45 a.m. Wednesday: Power has been restored to all Greenville County Schools.

Power returned to Ellen Woodside Elementary and Riley Child Development Center overnight.

Thanks for helping us get the word out to parents.

9:45 p.m. Tuesday: Power has been restored to all GCS schools except Hughes Academy, Ellen Woodside Elementary and Riley Child Development Center. 

Those schools will open Wednesday with or without power.  Emergency generators will provide hallway lighting and food and bottled water will be delivered.  We will monitor building temperatures.

Absences at the schools without power will be excused.  

Duke Power hopes to have all schools back online by midnight.  The next update on power outages will be at 6 a.m. Wednesday.  I'll send you and email and update our social media accounts.

6:30 p.m. Tuesday:  After much deliberation and consultation with law enforcement, Duke Power, SCDOT, and other emergency response officials, Greenville County Schools has determined it is safe to operate on regular schedule tomorrow, Wednesday, September 13.  No GCS facility sustained significant damage from Tropical Storm Irma. 

Though six schools are currently without power (Tanglewood Middle, League Middle, West Greenville, Ellen Woodside, Riley CDC, and Hughes Middle) Duke Power expects power to be restored to all GCS locations by midnight. We recognize the ongoing inconvenience many of our employees and students are experiencing from a lack of power – hopefully the opportunity for electric lights, hot meals, and conditioned air will make up for the inconvenience of cold showers and dressing in the dark.

District personnel will be rechecking locations after midnight.  If any schools are without power Wednesday morning, parents will have the option to keep those students home with no penalty.  An up-to-date list of schools without power (if any) will be shared with media and posted on the District website and social media sites at 6 a.m. Wednesday.   Those schools will have emergency lighting produced by on-site generators and the temperature will be monitored for safety throughout the day.  Food and drink will be delivered for breakfast and lunch. 

Many roads around the county remain closed and numerous traffic signals are out due to power failures, so we encourage everyone to use extreme caution when traveling.  Buses are being re-routed around areas of concern and some bus stops will be bypassed.  Families affected by these routing changes will be contacted via phone by the District’s Transportation Department.  If unable to find an alternate route to school, those absences will be excused.

Greenville County Schools’ Inclement Conditions Evaluation (ICE) Team inspected all 100-plus GCS schools, centers, and offices this morning and reported back to our incident command center. Follow-up inspections have been made at all facilities and many concerns have been corrected. 

Please join us in expressing appreciation to all the linemen, emergency responders, law enforcement, and district custodial, maintenance, and facilities personnel who have been working all across Greenville County since first light to clear and repair damage from last night’s storm.

4:30 p.m. Tuesday : Greenville County Schools will open on Wednesday, September 13.  After much deliberation and consultation with law enforcement, Duke Power, SCDOT, and other emergency response officials, GCS administrators  have determined it is safe to operate on a regular schedule.  We are closely monitoring schools that are without power and planning bus routes around road closures.  More detailed information will follow in the evening hours. We appreciate the need for parents to plan ahead and wanted to share our decision as soon as possible.

5:25 p.m. Monday  Due to the ongoing threat of severe weather, widespread power outages, and storm damage, and after consultation with law enforcement and other emergency responders, all Greenville County Schools and offices will remain closed on Tuesday, September 12, and all after-school activities are cancelled.  With high winds forecast to continue through 4 a.m., repair crews will be unable to restore power, clear secondary roadways, and ensure working traffic signals across the county before the start of school, even under a two-hour delay.  We also know that additional traffic generated by student and employee commutes strains law enforcement and hampers response and repair efforts.

As of 5 p.m. we have eight confirmed GCS sites without power, but security alarms indicate power outages at numerous other facilities.  Those will be confirmed by district security, facilities, or maintenance personnel, but we will not be able to thoroughly inspect and restore all locations between the end of the predicted threat and the beginning of morning bus routes.  Additionally, we have been advised that gusts approaching 30 miles per hour may be expected even after the conclusion of the wind advisory.

We apologize for any inconvenience this may cause families and businesses, but the safety and security of students and employees is our first priority.

3:15 p.m.  Monday:  Greenville County Schools officials are delaying a decision regarding possible school closures or delays on Tuesday until approximately 6 p.m. this evening.  While we want to ensure the safety of students and employees and give families time to plan, we do not want to miss school and inconvenience families unnecessarily.  With revisions still being made to the forecast, we believe delaying this decision until late this afternoon will provide more valid information about the storm’s expected impact in our area. 

Given that the wind advisory for our area extends to 4 a.m. tomorrow, families should prepare for any possible scenario on Tuesday, including regular schedule, a delay, or closure.

3:00 p.m. Sunday:  Due to the threat of severe weather and wind from Hurricane Irma, all Greenville County Schools and offices will be closed on Monday, September 11, and all school-associated activities are cancelled. Though this storm has taken a significant turn to the west compared to last week’s projected path, its size and intensity is expected to produce significant wind and intense weather in the Greenville area Monday afternoon and possibly into Tuesday.  Forecast winds in excess of 30 miles per hour will exceed limits for the safe operation of school buses and other high profile vehicles. 

Combined with significant rainfall, the wind is expected to cause downed trees and flying debris, which will lead to widespread power outages and dangerous travel conditions.  The three-hour window needed to safely deliver bus riders to their homes, in combination with the imprecise science of weather forecasting, prevents us from attending for a half day. 

District officials will continue to monitor weather conditions and forecasts before making a final decision about Tuesday’s schedule.  

This missed day may be made up on March 19, as indicated on the District’s calendar, but due to the widespread impact of this storm, it is also possible that the day will be forgiven by the State.

We apologize for any inconvenience this may cause families, but the safety and security of students and employees is our first priority.  Please help us communicate this important message to parents and students.

3:30 p.m. FRIDAY. Greenville County School’s Emergency Response Team met briefly at the conclusion of Governor Henry McMaster’s news conference.  The Governor decided against statewide school closures and is allowing decisions to be made at a local level.  At this time Greenville County Schools plans to be open on Monday and Tuesday.  We will continue to monitor weather conditions and stay in contact with Greenville County Emergency Preparedness officials.  The National Hurricane Center provides updates every three hours.  If after the Hurricane Center briefing at 5pm on Sunday, it appears that conditions for the Upstate have deteriorated we will re-evaluate school closures.  Parents should continue to follow us on social media, check our website and sign up for text alerts.

UPDATE FRIDAY 8:20 a.m. We are expecting to hear from Governor McMaster this afternoon to learn more about his plans for state schools and offices on Monday and Tuesday. There are no closings at this time. Greenville County Schools' Emergency response team is meeting this morning to review the track of the storm, discuss weather projections and the possible impact on our district. We will continue to work with Greenville County Emergency Management officials to determine the safest course of action for students and staff.

UPDATE THURSDAY 4:05 p.m.: A decision on whether to close schools in all South Carolina counties on Monday 9/11 and Tuesday 9/12 will not be made by the Governor until TOMORROW. We have just learned from the State Department of Education that there was a miscommunication between the Governor's Office and the General Assembly that resulted in some lawmakers posting information about school closings on their social media accounts.

Recognizing the ongoing threat posed by Hurricane Irma, Greenville County Schools is closely monitoring the track of this storm and communicating regularly with Emergency Preparedness Officials to ensure we are ready and able to provide any needed assistance here or in other parts of the state. 

Last year during Hurricane Matthew, by order of the Governor GCS buses were used to transport evacuees around and from the lower part of the State.  Additionally, six of our schools were designated as evacuee shelters, though their use was not required.  Our facilities are built to withstand intense weather and remain a part of the State’s emergency response plan.  If it becomes necessary to close schools or end bus transportation as a result of this storm, affected families will be notified via phone message.  Information will also be available from local media outlets, the District website, Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram accounts.  Parents who wish to receive important alerts via text message, should text "follow @gcsalerts" (space between 'follow' and '@gcsalerts') to 40404 from your text-enabled mobile phone.  Regular text charges will apply.  All information tweeted by @gcsalerts will be received as a text. You do not have to be a Twitter subscriber to use this service.

As this situation continues to develop, we will keep you as informed as possible. 

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