Snow days are case by case basis

Students trek across campus with sleds on a snow day on February 5, 2016. (Jason Jiang/The Daily Campus)

With one full snow day, three delayed starts and one early dismissal on the books, snow season at the University of Connecticut is in full swing.

“Each snowstorm is unique based on the amount of snow, the timing, whether it’s accompanied by sleet, which campuses are most and least affected, whether it’s on a weekend or weekday, and many other factors,” said university spokeswoman Stephanie Reitz. “That means there can’t be any single standard to determine when UConn stays open, closes or has early dismissals or delayed openings.”

Compared to recent years, this season has one less full day cancellation than usual, according to up to date information from Reitz.

However, there have been more delayed starts than usual, compared to one in the 2013-2014 year, two in the 2014-2015 year and one in the 2015-2016 year. Last year brought three early dismissals, so it is possible the pattern has just simply switched.

“UConn hasn’t had a particularly difficult winter until recent storms,” Reitz said, regarding the cancellation on Thursday and the delayed start on Monday. “UConn Facilities is updating its budget with new information based on costs of (Monday’s) snow clearing, but its director says the costs remain under budget.”

Reitz said the Office of Emergency Management, the facilities department, police department, provost’s office, president’s office and communications decides when to cancel school.

“The group holds frequent telephone conference calls to go over the forecasts and weather conditions, with public safety being the primary focus of its decision-making,” Reitz said.

Reitz said decisions are made according to the official emergency closings policy: “The safety of our students, faculty and staff is paramount during inclement weather. At the same time, the university has important research, teaching and service missions to carry out, and must maintain effective operations. With all due consideration to safety, the university’s goal is to maintain normal operations to the greatest extent possible.”

Faculty continues to be guided to respect the decisions and accommodations of commuter students who choose to stay home in the case of inclement weather.  This policy is part of official university policy as well.

“Although the majority of our undergraduate students live on or adjacent to the Storrs campus, we know that many of our commuter students drive longer distances to reach their classes and the group takes them into consideration as well,” Reitz said.  “For instance, there may be times when we know that our campus can be cleared in time for a regular morning start, but we don’t know the status of neighboring towns’ roads – in those cases, we make the decisions based on the best possible information we have at the time.”

Krishna Patel, an eighth-semester allied health sciences student, commutes to campus from several miles away. She said she decided to miss her Friday morning lecture because the roads were not clean enough and classes weren’t delayed.

“Most professors are accommodating of when I’ve had to stay home,” Patel said. “Once I get on campus I have an easier time getting around. It’s getting through to campus that’s harder.”

No heavy snow is predicated in the next 10-day forecast, according to The Weather Channel, but the wintry weather is not likely over yet.


Claire Galvin  is a senior staff writer for The Daily Campus.   She can be reached via email at claire.galvin@uconn.edu.