RICHLAND COUNTY -- Multiple power outages caused two school closures and a delay among schools in the southern half of Richland County on Thursday.
School buses were already picking up students in the Clear Fork Valley Local School District when the majority of its buildings lost power.
“The power went out at 6:30 a.m., so we were halfway done with our route,” said Supt. Janice Wyckoff. “Another 20 minutes and we would have been done.”
Wyckoff said the outage impacted Butler Elementary, Clear Fork Middle School and Clear Fork High School.
Bus drivers continued their routes in order to ensure that students who attended Knox County Career Center made it to class, then began dropping students back off at home.
Meanwhile, administrators scrambled to notify parents by any means possible, using text alerts, classroom management apps and even Twitter. Some parents had already left for work.
“We did the best we could. I got a report that all of the kids except for a handful had parents or an adult home when they got on the bus,” she said.
“We were calling those three, four, five parents just to let them know that we have their kids, they're safe, they're with us. They brought them back and you can pick them up at the high school,” she added.
Lucas also experienced widespread power outages Thursday morning, Supt. Brad Herman said.
“It should be restored today, that is my understanding,” Herman said. Considering this power outage really affects our entire district, it makes it hard to do remote learning, so today would be like a traditional snow day. As long as the power returns, we will be in-school tomorrow.”
Lucas, which receives its electricity from FirstEnergy’s Ohio Edison division, did not have power as of 10 a.m.
Clear Fork, which is served by AEP (with the exception of Bellville Elementary), got its power back around 9:30 a.m.
After a snowstorm and a power outage caused back-to-back cancellations, Wyckoff said everyone is looking forward to getting back in the buildings for classes Friday.
“We are going to make it back to in-person school hopefully starting tomorrow and we hope to continue that through the remainder of the school year, for the next four months, barring any unforeseen issues,” she said.
Mansfield Christian School, also a FirstEnergy customer, lost power in its preschool through 12 building around 6:20 a.m., Supt. Cy Smith reported.
Smith said he was informed by FirstEnergy that power would be restored at approximately 9:30, so the school opted for a two-hour delay.
“Some students had already arrived at school, so we worked with those students who were here in small groups in the classrooms,” Smith said. “The power came back on at 9:50 a.m. so we decided to stay open today.”
Lauren Siburkis of FirstEnergy's Ohio Edison said a downed transmission line affected about 8,000 customers in the Mansfield area.
"Most of these customers have been restored to service, and our crews are working to restore power to the remaining 240 customers by 1 p.m.," Siburkis said in an email Thursday.
Representatives from AEP were not available for comment at time of publication.