February 25, 2020
UCCS students are disproportionally affected by school cancellations because of the nature of attending a commuter school. Since students, staff and faculty have varied schedules and commuters unpredictable weather patterns affect them differently. The university cancellation policy has a large impact on the safety of travellers and campus residents.
Chuck Litchfield, Vice-Chancellor of Administration and Finance, makes the final call to close campus due to weather conditions.
He said that the major source of information for UCCS to use when determining weather conditions is the National Weather Service Forecast, which is regularly monitored. The campus provided with notifications about worsening weather conditions up to 72 hours before they happen.
Several people on-campus work to determine what services, classes etc. will be affected, and Litchfield said that these are complex matters to assess, given a set of rapidly changing weather conditions, a large amount of commuter students across a large area, as well as a limited amount of contact hours between instructors and students.
Because of all of these factors, making a call on whether to delay class or cancel it is a difficult decision to make, and in the most extreme cases these decisions cannot always be made the same way they would be with more time available.
One of the best ways for students to stay aware of campus delays and closures is to sign up for Rave notifications to receive text and email alerts from campus.
Due to the fact that many different students’ needs must be met, Litchfield says that students should be prepared to make their own judgement calls on whether or not it is safe for them to travel to campus. “We do expect our students to make that call,” Litchfield says. He said that the faculty is currently working on a revision to policy that helps students understand what to expect from faculty members, and said that faculty at UCCS understand that there are several different students that live in different places with varying weather conditions across the state, and that cases of absence may be necessary to prevent an accident.
In an emergency, where traveling in poor weather conditions is unavoidable, there are certain precautions a student can take to be prepared and to take responsibility for their safety. The Colorado Department of Transportation lists different ways a student can plan ahead, and also safely navigate snowy conditions.
Ensuring that students’ vehicles are in good traveling condition is essential, and the Department of Transportation advises keeping a kit of supplies that include food and water, warm clothing/blankets, as well as flares, reflectors or a flashlight to be used to signal help. Winter driving tips include such as reducing speed and making sure that additional time is given to stop at lights.
The full article can be found here.