What goes into the decision to cancel classes


Students walk between Curtiss and Beardshear halls in the snow on Jan. 11, 2018.

Tristan Wade

Ames is under a Winter Weather Advisory by the National Weather Service (NWS) from 6 a.m. to 6 p.m. today. According to the NWS, this means “periods of snow, sleet or freezing rain will cause travel difficulties.”

The NWS also advised to “be prepared for slippery roads and limited visibilities, and use caution while driving.”

Iowa State University has policies in place when it comes to deciding whether or not to cancel classes in the event of severe winter weather.

Iowa State’s policy states: “In the event of inclement weather or other emergency, the president or other designated representatives, in consultation with appropriate university administrators, may declare,” either that classes are cancelled or that the university and buildings are closed.

According the the university website, the senior vice president for university services is responsible for making the decision to cancel classes, in consultation with the president, provost and safety officials.

That position was just recently filled by Pamela Cain, who is serving as the interim vice president after Kate Gregory resigned in November 2016. Cain is also serving as the interim chief financial officer for the university. 

If a decision to cancel classes or close the university is made, that information can be found via the university’s home page or local media. The university states that any concerned persons can call the Campus Information Center for information as well. Their number is (515) 294-4357.

The university’s website also states that “most Iowa State students live within walking distance of campus and CyRide routes.” And that normally if CyRide is operating and streets and sidewalks are “passable” the university will remain open.

“We tell our drivers to be safe, the schedule comes second safety is first,” said Sheri Kyras, director of transit at CyRide. “This can lead to delays but you can check the times on the app to stay up-to-date.”

The Iowa State police shared this tweet today:

According to the university website, “safety is the first concern, but a strong second is providing students with a good education. Each class missed is a lost educational opportunity.”

The university’s news page provides an up-to-date list of any events cancelled across campus as well.

The NWS’ release describes the conditions for which the advisory is in place as:

“Mixed precipitation occurring. Any mixed precipitation will change to all snow by early this afternoon. Plan on slippery road conditions.”

The NWS also warns high wind gusts that may lead to blowing snow and poor visibility.