WEBSTER CITY, Iowa — “The bottom line is safety first,” explained Dr. Mandy Ross, Webster City Schools superintendent. Ross joined dozens of her colleagues Wednesday in announcing the decision to cancel classes on Thursday due to the blizzard warnings.

“We cover almost 500 square miles,” she said of the Hamilton County district. Ross was concerned about all her 300 staff and 1,750 students. But she said that she had particular concerns about those students and staff who drive in from outside of town.

“The number of high school kids that we have driving in from rural areas,” Ross said, “…it’s like what are the roads going to be like for them? And less experienced drivers?”

“A lot of our staff drives in from maybe 45 minutes to an hour away,” she added.

She closed schools two hours early to try to get travelers home before the storm’s fury hit. “I always try really hard to recognize that our families are going to have to make adjustments in what they are doing with their students, so I try to make the call as early as I can,” Ross said, “Sometimes, it’s possible. Sometimes, it’s not.”