Due to Winter Storm Orlena, Wilkes University closed campus and cancelled in-person classes on Feb. 1 and Feb. 2. This situation is not unfamiliar to Wilkes students and professors, as the university endured a power outage that cancelled classes on the first day of the semester last fall.
In an attempt to limit the number of classes impacted by inclement weather, the university issued a new inclement weather protocol via email on Jan. 26 and on the Wilkes News Bulletin on Jan. 31 that aimed to alleviate some of the worry for students on how their courses would be structured in the event of a campus closure. The protocol stated that the campus would be closed but remote learning and work would continue.
“I believe it’s a great tool that provides a positive impact on students,” said Phil Erickson, a junior financial investments major, on using remote learning despite campus closure to begin the semester. “It definitely keeps us on track. It allows us to stay on schedule for the rest of the semester without cramming more subject matter and assignments into a shorter period of time.”
Staying on track is one goal of the inclement weather protocol, as professors have been able to review their syllabus and course structure remotely for the first two days of classes instead of waiting until later in the week.
Whether a class was held virtually depended on if the class was traditionally a face-to-face course, a hybrid course or fully online. Rather than falling behind with courses being cancelled, professors have the option to hold their lectures via Zoom or Google Meet.
Now, students may be anxiously awaiting emails from their professors as to whether their classes will be held virtually or if the long-held tradition of a snow day will result in professors cancelling classes via email.
“If anything, it’s just changed my schedule around a bit,” said Erickson. “My professors have done a great job of communicating with me during this time. They’ve even sent out recorded videos so that students can watch them at any time during the day when face-to-face classes are cancelled.”
John Pezzolanti, junior mechanical engineering student, echoed similar sentiments to Erickson.
“While snow days aren’t the same anymore, it’s good not falling behind in classes and needing to cram more information into an already chaotic semester,” said Pezzolanti.
In addition to students attending remote classes, the Wilkes News Bulletin outlined that employees should conduct work remotely as well, while essential personnel should report to campus.
Essential personnel includes the cafeteria staff, who as per the usual inclement weather closures, still provide food for students on campus as well as facilities and many other employees working to keep campus safe despite the weather.
Shortly after 4 p.m. on Feb. 1, the university enacted the same protocol for the second day of classes.
Students can receive email notifications or sign-up for text alerts through Wilkes’ emergency notification system by registering their phone number at the following link: https://www.wilkes.edu/campus-life/safety-security/emergency-telephone-number-contact.aspx.