Keene State College announced one delay and two closings because of snowy weather in the past two weeks. But how are these decisions made, and how do they affect the community of Keene State College?
Provost William Seigh stated that these curtailed operation decisions are based on numerous factors including road conditions during commuting hours, Department of Transportation alerts for high winds and poor visibility and estimated plowing and clean-up time for Keene State College roads and sidewalks.
He also described services that Keene State College depends on for certain weather sources to make these calls. “KSC depends on two weather services that are constantly monitored. One is a weather consultation service that will call the Grounds Supervisor with the storm updates and timing predictions of the upcoming event. The other service has detailed radar with current temperatures and specific weather location hazards, such as lightning,” he said.
Local Zorn Dining Commons employee Lisa Toledo said that even when class is cancelled, dining commons employees must come in for work. “For us, it’s no big deal because we have to be here to feed the students, so my boss is used to us being here all the time. It’s our job,” she said.
When asked about her commute to the school, she said, “On a normal day, I live about 15 minutes away, not too far, and since I come in at 5:30 in the morning, it’s not usually a challenge to come in. I use the fresh snow to come in since usually they haven’t plowed yet. Once they start plowing, it gets a bit harder,” she claimed.
She went on to describe her coworkers as well. “I’ve never heard any worker complain about coming in. I mean, maybe if they cleaned or plowed better that would help. Otherwise, I think my coworkers do well,” she said.
Everyone on campus reacts differently to the college being closed. Grace Rutherford, a KSC sophomore, said she usually gets excited. “When I wake up to find the college is closed, I’m relieved because I don’t have to go to class, but at the same time, I know that my professors are going to give me some homework or makeup work on Canvas. But, I’m still excited about not having class,” she said.
And, she’s right. Provost William Seigh said some professors have alternatives for students when classes get cancelled. “In some courses, faculty are able to leverage alternative assignments or use technology to still hold classes when weather is threatening. There are also courses that are dependent on students being present in order to effectively engage in that day’s subject matter; in these cases, losing even one class impacts the learners,” he said.
Rutherford, however, said she uses cancellations for her benefit. “Honestly, I usually do nothing on snow days. Sometimes it turns into a movie day with my roommates; other times, I catch up on homework or go to the gym,” she said.
However, Keene State College’s administration does try to avoid closing campus at all costs. “The intent is to always stay open, but snow removal and freezing rain/black ice are challenging to take care of when school is in session. Ideally, plowing takes place by 4 a.m., when campus activity is low, but the event itself determines the timing of snow removal. In most cases, we continue to plow with the storm unless freezing rain is predicted, in which case we may let the snow accumulate to lessen the effect of black ice,” stated Provost William Seigh.
When asked about the possibility of adding days to the end of the year, Provost William Seigh stated that the campus has typically worked to accommodate the needs of the classroom within the academic year.
“Certainly, some schools have faced extreme circumstances and challenges – like Hurricane Katrina – which prompted them to take unusual steps, but student and faculty commitments outside of the academic year would create real challenges if we tried to extend beyond the year as scheduled,” he stated.
Grace Kelly can be contacted at firstname.lastname@example.org