Recent cold weather no reason for school closure

Take caution in extreme weather conditions, but there’s no reason to fall behind

Story by Katie Bast, News Editor

As I bundled up for my walk to class early this week, I couldn’t help but be annoyed. After a long-sleeved shirt, sweatshirt, fleece jacket, down coat, fleece-lined leggings, jeans, two pairs of wool socks, snow boots, mittens, a hat pulled down over my eyebrows, a scarf wrapped all the way around my nose and sunglasses, you could hardly tell there was a person underneath.

I know I wasn’t alone in my frustrations, particularly Monday and Tuesday morning, but now that I’ve thought about it, it doesn’t seem like that big of a deal.

The walk Monday was unbearably cold. I had ice crystals on my eyelashes and eyebrows, the scarf covering my mouth froze to my face and the bus was late so I had to brave the bridge. But I made it to campus and thawed out before I headed to class.

It might seem like a cop-out for the university to put the decision of whether or not to come to class on students, but we’re adults. If we can decide we’re too sick to go to class, we can decide it’s too cold.

While it may seem unfair that public schools were closed, Vice Chancellor for Facilities and University Relations Mike Rindo said they have the luxury of adding days to the end of the year.

“Once our semester’s over, it’s over,” Rindo said.

We pay tuition and every class cancellation is money we don’t get back. There’s a difference between not going to class because we choose not to and not going because we’re told not to. I would rather brave the cold than  squeeze two classes worth of lecture into one.

When the university announced that classes would be held on Monday and Tuesday, many frustrated students and parents took to Facebook comments to voice their opinion. Many seemed concerned that administration wasn’t taking student safety into

“Our highest criteria is, is it safe to come to campus, to leave campus and to go back and forth within the facilities on campus,” Rindo said. “That is one of the criteria that we take into really serious consideration in fact, the most serious consideration, when making a decision whether to hold class or not.”

He said there are no hard-and-fast rules concerning school closures, but rather he and the chancellor evaluate the weather conditions as they happen and make a decision that way.

“Even though weather forecasting has gotten more accurate, it still is not an exact science,” Rindo said.

He said while the cold was extreme, the area has been experiencing similar temperatures for the last few weeks.

Nineteen of the first 28 days in January have been below zero. Every day this semester has been below zero and five of the six days have had double digit below zero readings. If class was cancelled every time the mercury dipped below ten below zero, we wouldn’t have had class those five days and likely wouldn’t have them for a few days next week.

I thought it was interesting that there was backlash over having class this week when there was nothing last week. The entire month of January has been very unusual. As residents of Wisconsin, we’re used to the cold and know how to dress for the cold.

According to a chart released by the National Weather Service, being outside for ten minutes in the wind chill could cause frostbite. Student Health Service Clinic Manager Laura Chellman said it’s up to students to use common sense when dressing for the weather. The best way to avoid this is to decrease time spent outside by taking the bus or carpooling to campus.

Chellman said there is no link between having class and getting frostbite and this year SHS has only seen three cases presenting with frostbite-like symptoms. None of them were Monday or Tuesday.

I don’t like the idea of having to use one of my few absences because classes are still being held and I don’t like the idea of missing out on lectures, but I feel comfortable making decisions about my own well-being.

Professors have been understanding of the conditions and I think most of them would be more than willing to work with students who chose to stay home this week.

It’s pretty patronizing to have administration tell us to dress warmly (duh), but I think having class this week really was the best option. There are so many ways to be safe in this weather and people just need to be wise.