KNOXVILLE, Tenn. (WATE) — Several school districts in East Tennessee announced either closure or early release for Thursday due to winter weather moving into the area.
District leaders said it wasn’t an easy decision, but one made out of caution.
“I know it’s an inconvenience, a huge inconvenience for parents and families and all, but I just to want to thank our families just for supporting us and bearing with us through this,” Bob Thomas, Superintendent of Knox County Schools, said.
Knox County Schools will be closed Thursday.
Thomas said district staff talked about the potential safety concerns, watched local and national forecasts and called local law enforcement to make the decision.
“Our director of transportation is involved in that, cause we want to hear from our bus contractors too,” Thomas said. “Lots of times they’re out on the roads earlier, looking and making sure that they can navigate safely, so bus contractors factor into it as well.
“So, it’s a lot of effort that’s put into this before a decision is made, just because it’s a huge inconvenience for parents and families'”
He said the timing of the storm is difficult because there’s no way to check ahead of time. All forecasts show the winter weather coming Thursday will be during school hours.
Anderson County School leaders felt the same way.
Ryan Sutton, the communications coordinator for ACS, said Thursday is the worst-case scenario when it comes to planning ahead.
“You know, worst case, we get them here and we have to take them home on a dangerous road. And that’s really something we don’t want to have to do. We wouldn’t get credit for the day anyway, so why not make a call that’s in, you know, in the err of caution on that to keep students and their families as safe as possible? As well as our staff,” Sutton said.
Had the snow come overnight or in the early morning like Monday, Sutton said the transportation director and bus drivers could check out the roads ahead of class time.
“Our bus contractors, they know those spots and they know where those buses might have potential problems and they’re in that area as well, and they’re doing the roads as well, looking at those spots going, ‘hey, look I don’t think it’s going to be a great idea in this area of our county,'” Sutton said.
Anderson County Schools will also be closed Thursday.
Sutton said based on local forecasts, it was just better to be safe than sorry.
“It’s just one of those that I think is a given for us this time. As much as you can in East Tennessee,” Sutton said.
Thomas said this year is different compared to last, in that virtual learning isn’t an option due to state laws. So, he said, he hopes teachers get a little break and students read a book, stay safe, and have some fun.
Both districts have several inclement weather days left for the school year.