Butch Dill / AP
Joyce Cook, an instructional aide, reads 'Snowflake Bentley' to fifth-graders stranded Tuesday night at Oak Mountain Intermediate School in Indian Springs, Ala.
Every kid's nightmare came true Tuesday for hundreds of children in Georgia and Alabama, where a winter storm shut down bus service and left them stranded.
All night long.
"We're just doing what we do. We're keeping the kids happy," Don Garrett, a second-grade teacher at Grantswood Community School in Irondale, Ala., told The Birmingham News.
Teachers and staff brought out snacks and games and planned for a long night, if necessary.
"This is outside their routine, and younger kids are pretty routine-oriented, and we're trying to maintain that," Garrett told the newspaper. "The last thing we would want to do is panic the kids, so we're just doing business as usual."
In some districts, conditions were so bad that not only were buses pulled from the road, but parents were also told not to even try to pick up their kids.
"If you have not picked up your child from school, please do not rush, and stay safe," the Homewood, Ala., school system said in a statement. "Homewood City Schools has faculty and administrators that will be staying at the schools through the evening, if need be, with students and families that were not able to travel home due to the weather."
Alabama Gov. Robert Bentley told reporters late Tuesday that state officials didn't know how many students were stranded at how many schools, but he promised that however many it was, they would be fed and watched over.
"If you trust your teacher to take care of your child today, they will be taken care of tonight,” Bentley said.
About 600 students were in Birmingham schools early Wednesday, city schools Superintendent Craig Witherspoon said.
In Marietta, Ga., a northern suburb of Atlanta, more than 850 students were still in their schools shortly after midnight Wednesday, district Communications Director Thomas Algarin said, though that number had declined steadily over the prior three or four hours.
More than 200 students and 15 to 20 staff members settled in for the night at Marietta High School, a teacher said.
School board Chairman Randy Weiner told The Marietta Daily Journal: "I can almost guarantee every school is going to have a slumber party because the buses couldn't get out."
The 55,000-student Atlanta public school system initially said it hoped to have all students home by 8 p.m. ET. But at 8:30 p.m., it said it was still having trouble getting buses to some campuses, most of them in the northern part of the district.
Late Tuesday night, the school system issued an emergency "shelter in place" declaration for all students and staff still in city schools. It said security and food were being provided at all campuses.
Garrett, the second-grade teacher in Alabama, said the kids were posing no trouble — it was nervous parents who were causing the headaches.
"We're really kind of doing both sides of it," he said — "taking care of the parents and the kids."
This story was originally published on Tue Jan 28, 2014 9:34 PM EST