SIOUX FALLS, S.D. (KELO) — Snow is blowing in Sioux Falls after several days of freezing rain, and while most communities surrounding the city called off school on Thursday, the Sioux Falls School District did not.

We asked why.

According to Jamie Nold, Assistant Superintendent for the SFSD, there is no hard and fast “policy” for closing school. There is, however, a process.

“A group of individuals — we discuss, we meet, we check with the National Weather Service (NWS), with the City of Sioux Falls — we also talk to the bussing company,” Nold said.

In addition to speaking with all these different parties, Nold says that a group of SFSD staff also hit the streets themselves.

“We have individuals who go out and drive around on the streets early in the morning,” said Nold. “Generally we go out around 4:30 a.m.”

Nold said the street crew drives around to get an idea what the weather is like, even getting out at times to walk around on the sidewalks.

After their excursion, Nold says the group gets together, consults with their sources, and makes a recommendation.

That recommendation goes to the Superintendent, who makes the ultimate decision.

Asked about the various factors that go into this recommendation, Nold says a major one is temperature. “That’s probably one of the easiest ones,” he said. “Either it hits that threshold or it does not.”

In terms of what that threshold is, Nold indicated that a wind chill of -30° F will most likely result in a school closure.

Nold says that the district also factors in their responsibility as the expected caregivers for children during the week. “The parents expect us and need us to be able to help care of their children on a daily basis, and we don’t take that lightly,” he said.

Cancelling or shortening a school day can present difficulties for parents who work, Nold points out.

Asked about why Sioux Falls had school today when communities surrounding it did not, Nold pointed to wind as a big reason. “[Other districts] have rural areas they will have to contend with,” he said. “I know how that is so much different, because of how the wind and the snow drifts — how that impacts the rural area is nowhere near the same as it is in town here.”

In order to avoid hitting parents with surprise closures, Nold says that the district tries to keep parents in the loop.

“We do try if at all possible to announce [things like late starts] the night before,” said Nold. If it’s not done the night before, he says there is an attempt to make a decision on a late start or closure before 7:00 a.m.

“We have an automated system that will contact every single family that has given us their information,” said Nold. He encourages families to make sure their info is up to date. You can do so at the school, over the phone or at this link.

Nold said that when the weather is bad, it’s important to make plans regarding how your child will get to school in the event of a late start, who will watch them if there’s a cancellation, and who will care for them if school is closed early.

One thing Nold says is not a huge factor in deciding whether or not to close schools: year length.

“It’s a very minimal factor,” Nold said. “The individuals that are on that committee are all 12-month employees. I’m going to be here during the summer, they’re going to be here during the summer regardless.”