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Fall begins with day off
Closing first due to rain in 14 years
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Forsyth County News

Forsyth County students celebrated the first day of fall with a break Tuesday.

Citing weather and safety concerns, the local school system joined many others across north Georgia in calling off classes.

It was the first time the district had closed due to rain since Hurricane Opal in 1995.

Spokeswoman Jennifer Caracciolo said officials notified parents through various ways, including the system's Web site, e-mail alerts and social networking sites like Twitter.

In addition, she said, "We changed our voice mail greeting here because we were finding that [some] parents lost electricity at home, so they couldn't get on the Web site and so they called the school board office.”

School was expected to resume today, though it was a scheduled early release day.

"One of the reasons that we ended up calling off school [Tuesday] was because we have so many youngsters that are picked up before daylight in the morning and we would have been unable to get out there and spot all the roads and see if there were any washouts overnight, " said Bruce Wagar, the district's director of school safety and discipline.

"It would have been very difficult and very dangerous for our buses to do that, so we really needed today to get a handle on yesterday's damage, hoping that no additional rain took place, at least of any significance, and then we'll just be able to get schools open as normal [today]."

From a facility standpoint, Wagar said the district was in "very good shape."

"There were little leaks here and there throughout the system," he said, adding that staff repaired them quickly.

The system's athletic fields, particularly those for high school football, which have an artificial surface, drained well and will be "usable right away."

The system had previously scrapped after-school activities Monday that required out-of-school travel, events at the central office and Academy@Night classes.

The district did not dismiss students early Monday afternoon, though the weather presented some challenges for school buses.

"The elementary routes were the most difficult because of the timing between the two storm fronts [in the afternoon]," Caracciolo said.

About 500 students had to be returned to school because of road closings, she said.

Some were picked up by their parents while others were able to ride buses home when the rain eased a short time later.

The school board budgeted four inclement weather days in the 2009-10 calendar.

Tuesday will be made up on Feb. 16 or 17, or on April 1 or 2.

The board also has the option of rescheduling on one of the two remaining furlough days, Jan. 4 or Feb. 12.