At Elizabethtown College, our first priority is to attend to student and faculty’s safety,” Vice President for Administration and Finances Robert Wallett said.
There are multiple people, such as Campus Security, Facilities Management and academic workers, involved in making weather-related decisions. Students, employees and those traveling to and from the College are taken into consideration by Wallett and others.
“Inclement weather decisions are always a judgment call because the weather has a tendency to be fickle, so you have to be flexible,” Wallett noted.
Inclement policies refer to any weather that deviates from common “safe” conditions. For instance, this may include snow, ice, tornadoes and flooding.
If there is warning of any of these situations, then Wallett and his team of consultants discuss all the possibilities for how to address these issues.
If there is warning a day or a few days in advance, the Emergency Management group is contacted, and they incorporate their input on the matter.
If there is forewarning of an adverse weather condition, facilities will have a meeting prior to it and determine the plan of action.
When, on occasion, undesirable weather conditions are not predicted, or not to the severity of the situation, Wallett, Campus Security, Facilities Management and Academic Workers generate a college message.
There are multiple ways for students, staff and other individuals concerned to be notified of the inclement weather decisions.
Wallett emphasized that the executive decision is made as quickly as possible, so that those who are impacted can be alerted.
The message is usually released around 5:30 a.m. If there is advanced notice about inclement weather, individuals will receive a notification the day before.
Wallett noted that the worst thing that can occur is when people do not see the messages and try to travel in the undesirable weather; this is especially true for those who have long commutes to campus.
There are several ways one can be informed about inclement weather decisions.
People can be notified through EC alert, which is a text message that provides viewers with essential information regarding the College. This is created by Campus Security.
On the campus website, there is a red notification that directly states the inclement weather decision, which is done by the Office of Marketing and Communications.
The LiveSafe app may also be used to provide information about weather conditions on campus.
“Potential weather events are closely monitored throughout the academic year,” Wallett stated.
The College utilizes Accuweather information online and via apps.
By doing so, Etown gains knowledge about timing, as well as impact on the students, employees and travelers (people who are commuting to and from the College).
A large impact is how local school districts are handling the weather conditions.
“Many of the staff have children; if their child(ren) are on a delay, they may need to come in late, or they may be unable to make classes at all,” Wallett explained.
He noted that the College needs to think about these circumstances when determining the College’s decision. Wallett said that he and others pay close attention to local news stations to see “the projected road conditions, local road conditions and further conditions.”
“It is important to take into account staff that do not live nearby, some have an hour or more commute,” Wallett added.
Most often, the College will delay classes when necessary rather than resorting to closing the campus.
“Students pay to receive an education, so the College won’t close unless there are safety risks involved with the weather,” Wallett said.
Unlike high school and lower levels of education, colleges do not extend the academic year.
“Delays and dismissals coincide with the beginning of classes,” Wallett said.
Moreover, events and activities for the day are reviewed and are delayed or stay as scheduled.
Wallett and others contact the necessary individuals to discuss these changes.
Facilities clear all pathways for students and staff.
There is not a set time they arrive to campus because each inclement weather situation is unique.
Delays permit facilities an extended amount of time to work on clearing the pathways, but they will still start their work early in the morning.
It is essential that students and staff check to see if there are delays or early closings. They should stay informed and updated on the latest information.
In order to prepare for inclement weather, Wallett encourages students to have the necessities, food, clothing and shelter.
Dining Services is always open, so students do not have to worry about not being able to eat.
If there is ever an issue during poor weather conditions, students are advised to contact Campus Security.
Campus Security houses about 25 snow shovels that are made available for students to borrow after a snowstorm. They ask that students sign out one of the shovels and leave their student ID with Campus Security.
Once the students are done shoveling, they return the shovel and get their ID card back. This service is available at any time, seven days a week.
As a reminder, all Campus Security officers and dispatchers are essential employees, so they are always open and always on duty, even if the College should close for inclement weather.
Students and staff should remember to stay warm and safe during the cold weather. If there is snow or ice, they should allow extra time to get to classes, especially if they commute.