UW-Eau Claire cancels in-person classes due to winter storm

Over 10 reported inches of snow fall onto Eau Claire

Cade Fisher

More stories from Cade Fisher


Photo by Cade Fisher

Some classes were held online during the storm, while other classes were fully canceled.

On Feb. 22 and 23, the UW-Eau Claire campus canceled all in-person classes due to a winter storm. 

UW-Eau Claire’s Chancellor’s Office sent out an email at 5:17 p.m. on Feb. 21, the day before the storm was set to hit Eau Claire. The email stated all in-person classes were canceled after 3 p.m. on Wednesday, until 8 a.m. on Friday.

All in-person classes were canceled at the Eau Claire, Barron County and Marshfield campuses. However, dining options like Riverview Cafe at Hilltop and Marketplace in Davies Student Center remained open.

Paula Gilbeck, the interim chief communications officer at UW-Eau Claire, said conversations started 48 hours before the storm, focusing on the weather forecast and weather patterns before making any decisions.

Gilbeck said facilities, campus police, deans of schools, executive officers, chancellors and even UW-Stout and UW-River Falls were in communication to decide if classes needed to be canceled on Feb. 22 and 23.

“We really value everyone dropping everything, coming to the table and discussing it together,” Gilbeck said. “There’s a lot of us that weigh in.”

Once the decision was made, the aforementioned chancellor’s office email was sent out to students, faculty and staff to share the information. The facilities team then began working to prepare the campus for the winter storm.

Jennifer Allen, the grounds crew supervisor for UW-Eau Claire, said that the grounds crew team is made up of nine people and they began clearing snow at 2 a.m. Wednesday and continued through Friday.

As we were anticipating this storm, we came up with a plan at the beginning of the week and took the opportunity on Tuesday to start brining the lots, roads and sidewalk areas to help with the snow sticking to the pavement,” Allen said.

According to Allen, Wednesday had just under 4 inches of snow and almost 6 inches on Thursday. Facilities coordinated with campus police and administration to keep all of campus on the same page about the snow removal and the safety of students.

“Once we start to get such accumulation, we begin to run out of space,” Allen said. “Safety is always our top priority so we wanted to make sure the piles didn’t impede any line-of-sight in lots and roadways, and also keeping doorways, utilities like around fire hydrants clear to ensure access if needed.”

The same group of people gathered again when another winter storm was set to be over Eau Claire on Monday, Feb. 27.

At 6:37 a.m. on Feb. 27, the chancellor’s office sent out another email stating the campus would be open for in-person classes. The grounds crew team began preparing campus at 2 a.m., just as they did on Feb. 22 and 23.

According to WEAU News, Eau Claire received a total of a 4.8 inch snowfall on Wednesday and a 5.7 inch snowfall on Thursday. In the month of February, the next largest amount of snow was a total of 1.9 inches on Feb. 21.

According to Gilbeck, UW-Eau Claire was ready to handle this weather emergency as the campus had to handle a winter storm during finals last semester.

The chancellor’s office sent an email out at 11:26 a.m. on Dec. 20, 2022 canceling in-person exams for the rest of finals week. 

“We all look at what that message might be and craft it together,” Gilbeck said. “We really watch the weather forecast and make sure we have all the latest information and that we’re making the proper decisions. We’re always focused on the safety of the students.”

Fisher can be reached at [email protected].