PULLMAN, Wash. — There's a new protocol for cancelling classes at Washington State University in Pullman.
The institution and administration will now make the determination on whether or not cancel classes the day before a major weather event.
Roads and streets in Pullman were mostly clear on Wednesday. WSU's decision to cancel classes was made well in advance, and that will be the new norm, at least for now.
Vice President for Marketing and Communication at WSU Phil Weiler said in the past the inclement weather team would meet for a conference call at 5 a.m. on the day of a storm and decide if classes should be delayed two hours or cancelled for the day. The goal of those calls was to make a decision and send out alerts to the Pullman campus community by 6 a.m.
"That approach has been problematic in the past. We have many students, faculty and staff members who commute to Pullman from Spokane and beyond. These individuals are frequently on the road by 6 a.m. if the weather looks challenging. There were times that these people didn’t get the notification of delay or cancellation until they were already driving to Pullman," Weiler said in a statement.
Weiler added that, parents with children in the local school district wouldn’t have time to make arrangements for their school-age children if WSU didn’t send out our notifications until 6 a.m. the day of a storm.
Now, the WSU Pullman inclement weather team will meet the night before a significant snow event to decide if they should delay or cancel classes.
"Yesterday’s (Tuesday's) forecast from the National Weather Service called for significant accumulations of snow overnight followed by a rain/snow mix. The combination of rain and snow can make for particularly slippery travel conditions both on roadways and on the hilly sidewalks of the WSU Pullman campus. It was for that reason that the team elected to cancel classes and suspend operations for today," Weiler said in a statement.
While it may seem obvious students are happy to have the day-off, they too understand the challenges people may have travelling to campus.
"My mom actually lives in Moscow, so she commutes everyday to work, I'm a student so I'm a little bit biased, but I definitely think it was a good idea," said Claire Lambeth, WSU student.
While about 4,000 people who live on-campus, there's 16,000 thousand who don't. Some might not understand why WSU decided to close and they're okay with that, school officials hope this new approach will keep people safe.
"We'll never make a decision that absolutely works for every member of our 20,000 person community here, but we have to make the best decision for the most number of people," Weiler said.
Technically WSU has never officially "closed," because they're a research institution, there are always people on campus, but it is still rare that they cancel classes.
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