KNOXVILLE, Tenn. (WATE) – Knox County Schools closed early Thursday due to inclement weather. KCS superintendent Bob Thomas released a statement to parents regarding the decision – and why there was a perceived delay and last-minute notice.

“I know that some of you have questions and concerns regarding today’s decision,” the statement from Thomas read. “I’m aware this created hardships for our families and I apologize for the inconvenience. I do feel it’s important to provide you with additional information about our process.
“With an enrollment of more than 60,000 students, the size of our district complicates any decision regarding closures and we must base our decisions on the information we have at the time.”

The statement from Thomas went on to say:

Between the hours for 4 a.m. and 6 a.m. this morning, we were in communication with E-911 and security personnel about road conditions. At that time, about 5 percent of county roads had standing water or were flooded and we did not think it warranted a districtwide closure. There was never a time we had lost access to our campuses but that was becoming more challenging as the morning went on and as our buses were already en route.
As a result, we made the decision to implement a district-wide early dismissal to ensure a safe commute home for students and families.
We recognize that this presented a significant inconvenience for many parents. We want to assure all parents and guardians that no child will ever be left alone at a school, even if a parent is unable to pick them up on short notice. Today will be counted as inclement weather day and no student will be counted absent as a result of our decision.
We appreciate your patience and understanding. We are grateful for the privilege of educating your child.

Bob Thomas, Superintendent, Knox County Schools

Parents with students in Knox County Schools had been taking to social media late Wednesday night and early Thursday to express concerns about KCS not closing schools due to inclement weather as other districts had.

Some KCS students went to school Thursday morning until KCS officials announced early dismissal.

KCS officials announced that all Knox County elementary schools closed at 10:30 a.m. and all middle and high schools closed at 11:30 a.m.

All Knox County Schools will be closed Friday due to forecasted inclement weather.

Many roads are water-covered due to the heavy rain over the past few days.

PHOTOS: Flooding in East Tennessee – February 2020

Central office, maintenance, and custodial staff will report as usual.