Inclement Weather Guidelines

  • The safety and well-being of students and staff is our top priority and the decision to close, delay or release school is no simple matter. Before deciding to modify the school day due to extreme weather conditions, the Superintendent consults with a variety of experts both inside and outside of the District. Our commitment is to keep students, families, and staff safe, as well as keep the community informed of weather-related school closings, delays, and cancellations.

    The District must make one decision that is appropriate for more than 14,000 students. We recognize that this decision may not always fit with individual circumstances. Therefore, we support parents/guardians making the best decision for their family.  Parents/guardians may choose to keep their children at home if they are concerned about their child’s safety due to weather conditions.  In this event, they must notify the school and the absence will be recorded as excused. 

    Please note that we continually monitor the forecast from the National Weather Service (NWS) in order to make the best decision for students, staff, and families in a timely manner. The District utilizes information from the NWS for Iowa City, Iowa City Municipal Airport (KIOW). The NWS’s National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) wind chill and heat index charts are utilized in the District’s decision making process. The NOAA wind chill and heat index charts can be found under Appendix A of these guidelines. 

    Announcements of District weather-related decisions are communicated through local media outlets (television, radio) and multiple District communication platforms.  Notification will be sent directly to families by phone, text, and email through the District’s Blackboard Mass Notification system. To receive notification through the District’s Blackboard Mass Notification system, please ensure your contact information (e-mail and phone) is accurate in PowerSchool. Announcements are also posted on Iowa City Schools social media accounts (Facebook, Twitter, Instagram), individual school websites, and the District website at www.iowacityschools.org. In addition, the District utilizes the official Iowa City Schools mobile app to share weather-related notifications. 

    Please note, high school activity and athletic event decisions are determined at the building level and communicated by the building administrator/designee. Before and after school programs follow the same weather-related closing, late starts, and early dismissals as the school district.

    Cold Day
    Closing due to temperature or wind chill. 

    School will be canceled if the forecast for 10:00 a.m. the following morning shows frostbite times of 30 minutes or less (see Appendix A). Notifications regarding cancellation will be made no later than 9:00 p.m. the night before a cancellation.** As a general practice, all activities are canceled unless otherwise noted.

    Cancellations include (but not limited to): 

    • All District schools and preschools
    • Before and after school programs will be closed
    • Field trips
    • School events (Elementary / Junior High)
    • Family engagement activities (i.e. conferences)
    • High School activity and athletic event cancellations are determined at the building level and communicated by the building administrator/designee
    • Meetings and activities in a school building or District facility hosted by an outside organization

    Snow Day
    Closing due to snow or hazardous driving conditions.

    School will be canceled if heavy snow and/or icy conditions make it exceedingly hazardous or impossible for school buses to travel their routes and/or for employees and students to report to school safely. Decisions and notifications will be made by 6:00 a.m. the morning of a cancellation. As a general practice, all activities are canceled unless otherwise noted.

    Cancellations include (but not limited to):

    • All District schools and preschools
    • Before and after school programs will be closed
    • Field trips
    • School events (Elementary / Junior High)
    • Family engagement activities (i.e. conferences)
    • High School activity and athletic event cancellations are determined at the building level and communicated by the building administrator/designee
    • Meetings and activities in a school building or District facility hosted by an outside organization

    Late Start
    Delaying the start of school due to weather conditions that are expected to improve throughout the school day. 

    School will be delayed if the forecast for 6 a.m. the following morning shows frostbite times of 30 minutes or less (see Appendix A). Decisions and notifications regarding cancellation will be made no later than 9:00 p.m. the night before a cancellation.** 

    When a late start is deemed necessary:

    • Late start times may vary depending on the weather conditions
    • In the event of a late start on a regularly-scheduled early dismissal day (Thursday), the early dismissal will be canceled and school will follow the regular dismissal times. 

    Cancellations include (but not limited to):

    • Morning preschool will be canceled
    • Before and after school programs will be closed

    ** If conditions have worsened following the 9:00 p.m. notification timeline, the District will recheck conditions and make notification no later than 6:00 a.m. 

    Early Dismissal
    Releasing school early due to weather conditions that are expected to worsen throughout the school day. 

    When an early dismissal is deemed necessary:

    • A decision is determined by 10:00 a.m.
    • Early dismissal times may vary depending on the weather conditions
    • Children normally transported on buses will be returned by bus according to the early dismissal schedule unless other arrangements have been previously made and communicated to the child’s school
    • High School activity and athletic event cancellations are determined at the building level and communicated by the building administrator/designee
    • Before and after school programs will be closed 

    As a general practice, all after school and evening activities are canceled unless otherwise noted. 

    Cancellations include (but not limited to):

    • District-sponsored after-school programs and extra-curricular activities (Elementary / Junior High)
    • Afternoon preschool
    • Before and after school programs will be closed
    • Field trips
    • School events (Elementary and Junior High)
    • Family engagement activities (i.e. conferences)
    • High School activity and athletic event cancellations are determined at the building level and communicated by the building administrator/designee
    • Meetings and activities in a school building or District facility hosted by an outside organization

    Same Day Activities Cancellations
    Canceling after-school activities due to weather conditions that are expected to worsen throughout the school day. School is in session as normal.  Decisions to cancel activities will be made by 1:00 p.m. the day of the cancellation. 

    Cancellations include (but not limited to): 

    • District-sponsored after-school programs and extra-curricular activities (Elementary / Junior High)
    • Afternoon preschool
    • Field trips
    • School events (Elementary and Junior High)
    • Family engagement activities (i.e. conferences)
    • High School activity and athletic event cancellations are determined at the building level and communicated by the building administrator/designee
    • Meetings and activities in a school building or District facility hosted by an outside organization
    • Before and after school programs will be closed

    ** If conditions have worsened following the 9:00 p.m. notification timeline, the District will recheck conditions and make notification no later than 6:00 a.m. 

    Heat Closings
    Closing due to temperature or heat index. This applies ONLY to secondary buildings (junior high and high school).  Elementary buildings are 100% air-conditioned and will not be released early due to heat. 

    School will be canceled if the forecast for 9:00 a.m. the following morning shows heat disorder is measured as danger (see Appendix A). In addition to measuring temperatures at KIOW, the District will utilize data points from indoor heat monitors throughout the District in the decision-making process. A decision will be made no later than 9:00 p.m. the night before a cancellation. **  

    Cancellations include (but not limited to):

    • All District schools and preschools
    • Field trips
    • School events (junior high)
    • Family engagement activities (i.e. conferences)
    • High School activity and athletic event cancellations are determined at the building level and communicated by the building administrator/designee
    • Meetings and activities in a school building or District facility hosted by an outside organization (secondary buildings only)

    Early Dismissal for Heat
    Releasing school early due to heat conditions that are expected to worsen throughout the school day.  This applies ONLY to secondary buildings (junior high and high school).  Elementary buildings are 100% air-conditioned and will not be released early due to heat. 

    When an early dismissal for heat is deemed necessary:

    • A decision is determined by 10:00 a.m.
    • This applies ONLY to secondary buildings (junior high and high school). Elementary buildings are 100% air-conditioned and will not be released early due to heat.
    • Early dismissal time will be 1:00 p.m. for secondary students
    • Students normally transported on buses will be returned by bus according to the early dismissal schedule unless other arrangements have been previously made and communicated to the child’s school 

    Cancellations include (but not limited to):

    • District-sponsored after-school programs (in non-air conditioned buildings) and extra-curricular activities (junior high)
    • Field trips
    • School events (junior high)
    • Family engagement activities (i.e. conferences)
    • High School activity and athletic event cancellations are determined at the building level and communicated by the building administrator/designee

    ** If conditions have worsened following the 9:00 p.m. notification timeline, the District will recheck conditions and make notification no later than 6:00 a.m. 

    Appendix A

    NWS Windchill Chart

    NWS Heat Index