Officials had to cancel classes at Northern Granville Middle, Stovall-Shaw Elementary and Joe Toler-Oak Hill Elementary.
The power is back on now, but crews are still on the scene working on source of the problem.
The problem was an equipment malfunction at a Progress Energy power substation in Granville County.
A company spokesman told Eyewitness News it was like a big circuit breaker that tripped at about 4 a.m.. Residents in affected communities say when they woke up, it was dark.
"Pitch black. The whole street, you couldn't see anything. Pitch black, it was like a blackout, literally," mother Kristy Kendall said.
Families who dressed by candlelight brought their kids to school, which was also dark. But Kendall figured her children would be cared for, while she attended college classes.
"School's normally open when I'm in school," Kendall said. "So now, you know, I'm going to have to have my boyfriend keep coming back and checking, to make sure everything's okay."
For the first few hours after sunrise, no one could say how long it would take to get power restored.
"I'm not blaming anybody for that," School Superintendent Tim Farley said. "We just waited until the last possible minute to see if we could get the kids into school and have school start. But it just didn't work out for us at three schools."
All three affected schools will open as usual Wednesday morning.