University of Iowa cancels classes for cold weather for first time in a decade, other area schools followed suit

Area high schools and grade schools closing as well ahead of 30 below zero forecast

A bicycle is covered in snow as it sits outside the University of Iowa Main Library in Iowa City on Wednesday, Jan. 23,
A bicycle is covered in snow as it sits outside the University of Iowa Main Library in Iowa City on Wednesday, Jan. 23, 2019. (Stephen Mally/The Gazette)
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IOWA CITY — For the first time in nearly a decade, University of Iowa administrators on Monday announced they’re canceling classes all Wednesday and for parts of Tuesday and Thursday due to extremely cold weather — with forecasters projecting temperatures on the Iowa City campus to reach 30 degrees below zero.

Kirkwood Community College also pre-emptively pulled the plug on all classes at all its locations from 5 p.m. Tuesday through 10 a.m. Thursday as the polar vortex grips the region.

Iowa State University is also canceling classes from 5 p.m. Tuesday through noon Thursday. Similarly, at Coe College, classes will be canceled beginning 4:30 p.m. Tuesday until 8 a.m. Thursday.

The University of Northern Iowa was last to decide, announcing that due to cold weather there would be no classes on campus beginning 5 p.m., Tuesday through noon, Thursday. Furthermore. Wednesday, the UNI campus will be put on reduced operations; only essential personnel should report, with courses taught by eLearning proceeding as scheduled.

Some K-12 school districts on Monday alerted parents their kids will stay home for at least some part of the three-day arctic snap — including the Iowa City Community School District, which after a late start Monday canceled classes through Thursday.

In addition, Cedar Rapids Community Schools, Linn-Mar Schools and Marion Independent Schools have announced they will be closing school Tuesday and Wednesday, and plan to evaluate Thursday. College Community School District canceled school for Tuesday and Wednesday, and these closures include the ECC And all practices and activities.

Due to inclement weather, Clear Creek Amana Schools announced there would be no school Tuesday, Wednesday and Thursday with all buildings closed. Solon Community Schools announced that they will be closed for Tuesday and Wednesday with BASP and all activities cancelled. Mount Vernon and Lisbon School Districts also decided against school being open Tuesday and Wednesday. Xavier Catholic School District closed Tuesday and Wednesday, with the cold preventing scheduled boys and girls basketball games and Tuesday mass and rosary.


The UI cancellation marks the first time it has nixed classes for a full day since December 2009, when a blizzard walloped the state, dropping a couple feet of snow in some parts, according to the National Weather Service.

Officials didn’t know when the last time the UI canceled classes just for cold temperatures, which on Wednesday are projected in Iowa City to reach a high of 16 below zero and a low of minus 30. The mercury will start its decline Tuesday, with temperatures dropping into the negative 20s. And it will only creep up slightly Thursday, when forecasters project a high of 1 below.

In a message to the UI campus Monday afternoon, Vice President for Student Life Melissa Shivers stressed the closure’s Tuesday start should not only affect evening classes but also non-academic events — and she urged organizers of those relevant groups to communicate cancellations.

“We strongly encourage all organizers of non-academic events to cancel given the extreme weather,” she wrote. “In all cases we urge students, faculty and staff to use good judgment and avoid serious risks during these extreme weather conditions.”

In canceling classes, the UI followed its “extreme weather protocol,” including keeping open and operating essential services — like the UI Hospitals and Clinics, dental clinics, public safety department, UI Housing and Dining, State Hygienic Laboratory, and facilities management operation.

“Staff in these units will be expected to make every reasonable effort to report to work,” according to the UI policy. “Administrative functions on the campus continue to the extent that faculty, staff, and administrators can travel to and conduct business on campus.”

l Comments: (319) 339-3158; vanessa.miller@thegazette.com

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