KNOXVILLE (WATE) – Knox County Schools has joined the growing list of systems closing their doors due to illness.
The school system announced Monday afternoon it would be closed Tuesday and Wednesday. All meetings and extracurricular activities have also been cancelled. Central Office will remain open.
Knoxville Mayor Madeline Rogero announced the city’s recreation centers including Cecil Webb, Deane Hill, Milton Roberts, Cumberland Estates, Christenberry, Cal Johnson, West Haven and Dr. E.V. Davidson will open at 10 a.m. both days for children who are not sick to come play. Richard Leake will be open from 1 p.m. to 9 p.m. on Tuesday and 10 a.m. to 9 p.m. on Wednesday.
“I hope all the parents, and the teachers and the kids all get feeling better cause it’s a pretty rough virus,” said Heather Mullins, a Knox County Schools parent.
That bug will now keep Mullin’s two kids out of school for two days. She said her son goes to Holston Middle School. When she picked him up from school on Monday, he ran to the car excited. He’s excited but now, Mullins has to figure out what her kids are going to do for the next two days.
“I work full time and I work during the day while they are at school,” said Mullins.
Melissa Massie, the executive director of student support services for Knox County Schools, said the district has mostly gotten reports of an intestinal virus. The schools are also seeing a respiratory virus go around and they have had some confirmed flu cases. Massie said student attendance is way down. Mullins’ son, David, caught a bug last week and was out sick.
“His temperature was running about 103. He couldn’t get off the couch. He slept for pretty much three days,” said Mullins.
It’s not just the kids that are feeling bad. Teachers and substitutes are also out sick. Massie said about 700 were out on Monday.
“The other difficulty is finding the people to replace them because many of our substitute teachers are out sick,” said Massie.
While school is closed, staff will be cleaning. Massie said custodians and maintenance crews will be cleaning desks, chairs and any other things that fingers touch, such as door knobs. Massie is confident all of that will be done in two days.
“I hope so. I really do because I would hate for them to go back to school just to be turned around and be sick again,” said Mullins.
Christian Academy of Knoxville, Lenoir City, Grainger County, Scott County and Sweetwater City have also announced they will be closed Tuesday.
Grainger, Monroe, Roane and Union counties were closed on Monday.
Union County Director of Schools Jimmy Carter says the decision to close wasn’t easy. He says the district usually has a 96 percent attendance rate but with illnesses has been getting closer to 86 percent.
At Paulette Elementary, the custodial team worked overtime when school was off to clean every surface to break the cycle.
“They have been cleaning the door knobs, student desks, anything that a child touches – it is being thoroughly cleaned.” said Paulette Elementary Principal Jason Bailey.
School will be back in session Tuesday at Paulette, but Bailey says he encourages parents to keep their children at home if they are still showing signs of illness.