Knox County School leaders plan to have classes Thursday despite damage to several school buildings.
"We don't see any issues that would prevent us from having school tomorrow [Thursday.] So we anticipate students and teachers getting back in the classroom and getting the semester started," said Knox County Schools Spokesperson Sean Dreher.
Crews worked overnight Tuesday and all day Wednesday to clean up the mess caused by the record-breaking low temperatures. Superintendent Jim McIntyre said broken pipes and malfunctioning heaters in at least a dozen schools eliminated the possibility for school take place in the county on Wednesday.
South Doyle High School was one of the hardest hit. Principal Tim Berry said 33 heating units went out after water inside the coils froze and burst copper lines.
Berry said he came to work Tuesday expecting to salt the sidewalks and slowly learned of the damage, particularly on the Young Campus.
"I was worried about walkways," Berry said. "About 10 o'clock, I heard about five classrooms [with damage], that moved to 12, and when I left yesterday it was at 33. It was not what I was expecting."
Several pipes also burst flooding some classrooms. A water leak in building B also made five restrooms inoperable.
As of Wednesday evening, they had repaired all but about five classrooms that may take several more days of clean-up. The restrooms were also expected to be working by Thursday.
Berry said he was surprised by the amount of damage but impressed with the clean up time.
"When I saw that yesterday, I was really worried how we were going to be able to get our kids back in school. I was thinking maybe a week or so," said Berry. "I was blown away by the progress and their efforts. I would like to say thank you to everyone who had a hand in getting us back in school."
Dreher also said other schools with heating problems-- like Sarah Moore Greene, Sequoyah Elementary, Inskip Elementary, and West View Elementary-- have been fixed.
As of Wednesday night, they were still assessing a water issue at Holston Elementary.
A quarter of the buses would not start on Tuesday morning. Dreher said they had spoken with the majority of the contractors and many of the problems had been resolved.
"We are confidant we can get all of our students to school safely," Dreher said.
Gentry Bus Lines, one of Knox County's private contractors, said three of their buses still would not start. They started running buses at 10 a.m. Wednesday to work out any kinks.
"We'll have to be going through this same process in the morning about 6. So it will take a while to get them going but hopefully, keep your fingers crossed, we'll have everything going by 6:30 time to roll out," said owner, Bill Gentry.