Canceling school: how admin makes the decision
Published: Monday, February 10, 2014
Updated: Monday, February 10, 2014 23:02
The storm on the night of Feb. 4 brought the UConn campus 10 inches of snow and a day off for its students.
Text and email notifications were sent out to students that afternoon alerting them that the following day’s classes were cancelled
Feb. 5 marks the second time that UConn cancelled classes for snow this academic year.
The storm brought almost the entirety of February’s average snowfall, just over 11 inches, according to the Connecticut Department of Energy and Environmental Protection, with still almost three weeks left in the month.
When a snowstorm is predicted, a committee representing several university offices meets on a conference call to discuss whether or not to close school, according to Stephanie Reitz, the university spokesperson and a member of the committee.
Other members of the committee include employees of the police department, facilities operations, the provost’s office, emergency services, student life, and communications.
“When a storm is forecast to arrive overnight, we schedule a conference call at 4 a.m.,” said Reitz. “We always try to communicate our decision by 5 a.m. so students and employees can plan their day accordingly.”
The committee considers conditions across the state in regards to the school’s commuter student population, as well as walking conditions around campus.
The committee’s main priority is the safety of the students and faculty on campus, but also maintaining the effective research and teaching operations of the university, according to Reitz.
Once a delay or cancellation is announced, the university communications office sends out text and email messages to students alerting them to the closing, and Facilities Operations workers start the long process of plowing the streets and clearing sidewalks.
According to their website, Facilities Operations clears the roads and sidewalks on a priority basis, focusing on the areas with the most traffic.
Inclement weather and the hazardous driving conditions that accompany it can often cause problems for UConn’s commuter students. The university makes allowances for those unable to make the drive due to weather, but missing classes can still put them behind.
“It’s not really a problem for people who live on campus,” said Rebecca Edwards, a sophomore pre-education and math major. “It’s more of a problem for people who need to travel to get to campus.”
Edwards, also a student employee with Transportation Services, said that her job driving school vans becomes more difficult with snow.
“UConn specifically urges faculty to respect the decisions of commuting students who decide not to travel to classes, and provide options for them to make up missed work,” said Reitz.
In a time where classes have a greater digital presence, some students don’t think missing class is that big of an issue.
“I feel like it shouldn’t affect the overall class. Teachers can email students the assignments. There shouldn’t be an issue. A lot of teachers put the notes online, too,” said Matthew Cassidy, freshman accounting major.
UConn classes also suffered a significant number of cancellations in 2011 when Connecticut was hit by the Halloween snow storm, and again in 2012 when Hurricane Sandy made landfall.