With a windchill watch – meaning wind chills could drop as low as -50 degrees in parts of northern Iowa — set to begin at 9 a.m. Tuesday and last until Thursday morning, I reached out to the superintendents who lead the districts that Nevada Journal and Tri-County Times cover: Nevada, Colo-NESCO, Collins-Maxwell and Ballard, to find out what would likely happen concerning school closings this week.

One thing that was nice to find out is that superintendents of Story County have been working together to come up with consistent policies on issues such as this.

Ottie Maxey, superintendent of both Ballard and Collins-Maxwell schools, said superintendents are using a windchill threshold that determines the amount of time exposure that is dangerous.

“Fifteen minutes is typically our criteria, but it can be more depending on the circumstances. Blowing snow and drifting are also considered due to the impact on bus routes, especially on gravel roads,” he said.

Maxey said that each district makes decisions independent of one another as conditions can differ between districts.

“Above all, we make the safety of students, staff and parents a priority within the context of the reality that we live in Iowa and we experience cold temperatures every winter. In addition, it is always the prerogative of parents to keep students at home if their unique circumstances warrant that decision in their opinion,” Maxey said.

Jim Walker with Colo-NESCO and Steve Gray with Nevada both said Maxey has summarized the matter well.

“Our biggest concern as in all districts in Story County are students who walk to school and the time spent at bus stops by students waiting for buses,” Walker said.

With windchill levels expected to drop to dangerous levels this week, parents will want to keep an eye on school delays and closing announcements.

So far this school year, Nevada, Ballard and Collins-Maxwell schools have all missed two days. Colo-NESCO has missed three.