With the rise of accessible technology and online classes, snow days are becoming a thing of the past. The ability to run classes via Zoom or Blackboard Collaborate means professors no longer have to completely cancel classes when the weather is too rough for students to be on campus.
Though classes are only starting to return to being in person, they won’t be canceled for bad weather anytime soon. Online classes are attended by most students safely from their homes with no traveling involved.
In December of 2020, the Senior Leadership team met to revamp the Cancellation/Closure/Remote policy of the University. The updated policy now has four categories: Open, Remote, Classes Cancelled, and Closed.
Greg Sanial, Vice President for Finance and Administration, said that for weather-related instances, the university will transition to remote learning instead of closing. Classes that cannot be taught virtually, such as certain labs and courses, will still not be held.
Even when the university has shifted to remote status, essential workers will still be expected to report to work, Sanial said. Essential personnel are designated staff members from the following departments: Department of Public Safety, Facilities Services, Athletic & Recreation Facilities, Food Service, Housing, Information Technology, Library, Facility Services Grand Rapids and Regional Campuses and WGVU Public Media.
However, many employees would have the opportunity to work remotely when the university moves online. They also have the option of taking a vacation or electing to go unpaid.
“Most employees will easily be able to shift to remote work, but some will not,” said Sanial.
Many factors go into deciding when the campuses should switch into a remote version or shut down completely. Each campus must be called individually as weather conditions are not always the same at every location.
Though snow days do not happen often, they are a well-needed break for many overwhelmed students. With the loss of Spring Break this semester, taking away potential snow days weighs heavily on the student body.
“Students need breaks, and honestly those random unexpected days off were the best,” said Reed Barker, a third-year engineering major. “This is just another thing that COVID-19 has taken from us.”