KCS Severe Weather Information
From time to time it is necessary to cancel classes across the school system due to poor road or school access conditions that have been caused by inclement weather such as rain/flooding or snow and ice. The Superintendent of Schools is the only person who may make the decision to close school for any reason.
Generally, the Superintendent will confer with the Assistant Superintendents, Chief of Security, Chief of Staff, Chief Operating Officer, Director of Public Affairs, Director of Maintenance and Operations, Director of Transportation and other appropriate school system staff and local governmental entities to gather information and make a decision concerning the status of schools. The intent is to make the decision as early as possible to allow parents to have time to make appropriate arrangements. In the event that the decision to cancel school or delay school must be made in the early morning hours, this decision should be made prior to 5 a.m. if at all possible.
When all schools in the system are closed, the Central Office and other support offices will also be closed except for mission essential personnel. Mission essential personnel will be persons designated and notified by the appropriate director.
Once a decision has been made to cancel school, delay the start of school or release students early, the Director of Public Affairs will begin dissemination of that decision. The Director of Public Affairs will:
- Develop a 20-25 second message for distribution by mass telephonic means. This message will be delivered immediately to all parent and employee primary contacts if the decision is made at 6 a.m. or later. If the decision is made prior to 6 a.m. the message will be scheduled to begin delivery at 6 a.m. Should the decision be made the day prior, the message may be delivered until 8 p.m. Message delivery will cease at 8 p.m. as not to disturb families in the late evening hours.
- Develop appropriate messaging for all social media platforms officially in use by Knox County Schools.
- Place a cancelation alert on the school system website and the websites of all schools in the system that use the KCS content management system.
- Contact the primary news media for the region.
Road Condition Assessment
Knox County Schools security officers and bus contractors tasked to assess road conditions will be the primary source of bus route trafficability information. However, other sources may be used at the discretion of the Superintendent.
The Director of Transportation will identify specific bus contractors to make route assessments. Each contractor will be assigned responsibility for a geographic area of the county: north, south, east and west. Their activities will be coordinated by the Director of Transportation, who will alert the specified contractors when their services are required for route assessment.
The School Security office will also provide route assessment information. After hours, the security dispatcher and night patrol will respond as requested by the Director of Transportation, who will begin after-hours route assessment no later than 4 a.m.
Decision to Cancel or Delay the Start of School
The Superintendent will convene appropriate staff members to review weather and road conditions no later than 4:45 a.m. Staff members participating in any weather conference will include but not be limited to:
- Assistant Superintendent/Chief Academic Officer
- Assistant Superintendent/Finance and Human Resources
- Chief of Security
- Chief of Staff
- Chief Operating Officer
- Director of Maintenance and Operations
- Director of Public Affairs
- Director of Transportation
The Superintendent may make a decision at this point or may defer the decision to cancel or delay the start of school until additional information is available.
Decision to Release School Early
The assessment and decision process to release school early due to weather conditions is the same as is the process after school hours. When school is released early due to weather, the Central Office and all school offices will remain open and operational until it is reasonably confirmed that all students have safely reached their homes or have been picked up by their parents or guardian.
School-Related Activities and Atheltic Events
All school-related activities and community use of school facilities generally will be canceled for any day school is canceled. Principals, coaches and other school personnel will not schedule impromptu practices, rehearsals or other activities at times when school is canceled.
If schools are closed due to weather conditions on the last school day before a weekend or break, weekend activities may still be conducted if weather conditions permit. The exceptions to cancellations prescribed in the policy are the use of school district facilities for primary and general elections and the designating of school district facilities by county or state authorities as emergency shelter sites.
The Superintendent may allow vital events to take place even if schools have been closed due to weather conditions, provided that the events can be safely conducted.