ATLANTA – Hundreds of thousands of Georgia children got a break from classes Monday after Gov. Sonny Perdue (search) asked schools to close for two days as a hedge against possible fuel shortages, leaving many parents struggling to arrange child care.
The shortages that Perdue feared never materialized, largely because Hurricane Rita (search) proved less damaging to Gulf Coast refineries than initially expected.
Parents learned of the governor's decision late Friday afternoon. Many families had to scramble over the weekend to make alternate arrangements for their children.
Two mothers brought their grade-schoolers to the Capitol on Monday for a "teach-in" on the steps, just yards from Perdue's office.
"It's certainly caused a lot of problems for working parents today, and it causes problems for these kids who need to be learning and not just hanging out, watching the Cartoon Network at home," said mother Randy Faigin David of suburban Atlanta (search).
Meanwhile, gas supplies were moving freely through pipelines that serve Georgia.
"We don't expect any problems if we can get the refineries up in three to five days," said Ric Cobb, executive director of the Georgia Petroleum Council.
However, the governor's staff said Monday that shortages still were possible later in the week because production was shut down for days because of the storm.
In Washington, President Bush praised Perdue for his decision, saying the Republican governor "showed some leadership" in "anticipating a problem."
Democrats, including state party Chairman Bobby Kahn, criticized the move.
"The first thing he decided to do was close schools," Kahn said. "That shows something about his views on education and his priorities."