Heavy snowfall, slick roads and numbing temperatures have shut down schools this week throughout the Corridor.
And the weather is expected to get worse.
After two days of no classes, College Community School District buses left with students two hours earlier than normal Thursday — in hopes of finishing routes across the 137-square-mile district before snowdrift blocked roads.
“Roads are drifting shut, and we want to make sure kids get home in a timely fashion so they’re safe,” College Community spokesman Steve Doser said soon after students departed schools at 1:45 p.m. “ ... Each weather situation is unique, that’s the thing. It changes, obviously, forecasts change.”
Nearly every day this week, district administrators have weighed whether to delay the start of school, let students out early or cancel classes altogether to avoid coping with the treacherous weather.
Typically, those decisions come around 5:30 a.m., after superintendents or district transportation directors have spent the early morning hours assessing road conditions, temperatures and forecasts.
When districts are warned of especially dire conditions, cancellations can come sooner.
By Thursday afternoon, classes in the Iowa City, Cedar Rapids, Linn-Mar, College Community, Xavier Catholic and Solon districts already had called off classes for Friday.
The call came after the National Weather Service issued a warning of wind chills as low as 35 degrees below and winds as high as 40 mph until midday Friday.
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“Localized near whiteout conditions are possible in rural areas along with impassable roads from drifts several feet deep,” the weather service warned.
Additionally, forecasters predicted the possibility of more snow Friday and again “several inches of snow” on Sunday and Monday.
“Safety is always the primary consideration in the overall thought process,” according to the Cedar Rapids Community School District, which had only one full day of classes this week, on Monday. “And considerations of how to manage the logistics of transportation, child care, academic days ... are folded into that conversation.”
Policies for making up school cancellations vary by district. In the Cedar Rapids schools, spokeswoman Akwi Nji said Friday’s snow day will be the first students have to make up this summer, on May 31.
After three full days off, College Community School District’s academic year will stretch at least until June 7. But whether the district will make up any additional cancellations — including Friday’s — will be up to the school board.
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