BY SARAH ALLISON
On Wednesday, Feb. 5, weather conditions left roads covered in ice and snow, slowing traffic and increasing the risk of travel.
As a result, Franciscan University of Steubenville was closed, and all classes were cancelled for the day.
“If it happens once or twice a year, that’s a lot,” said Joe McGurn, director of Physical Plant Services. “We try never to let it happen.”
There were rumors the week before that classes might be cancelled due to the frigid temperatures, but the priority was safe travel for students, faculty and staff. Cold weather may not tilt the balance, but icy roads will.
The process of cancelling class includes Dave Skiviat, Franciscan University’s vice president of finance, and McGurn. Because workers at Physical Plant oversee care of grounds and sidewalks, they determine whether it will be possible for students and faculty to safely navigate around campus.
On the occasion of a weather event, McGurn consults with the grounds manager before making recommendations to Skiviat around 5:30 a.m. With this input, they determine whether campus will be ready by 8 a.m.
On Feb. 5, employees were working to clear the roads and sidewalks as early as 3 a.m. At first, it seemed that there would be only a two-hour delay in classes, so that was the message sent out on the university alert system around 6 a.m.
Skiviat is responsible for contacting the Office of Information Technology, which is in charge of Franciscan University’s website and phone alerts. McGurn works with Switchboard, Security, and TV and radio stations.
A few hours after the initial alerts, around 8:30 or 9 a.m., McGurn spoke with the grounds manager. With the ground covered in “frozen slush,” he said, it was unrealistic that they would be able to provide a safe travelling environment on campus by the expected time of 10 a.m. McGurn spoke with Skiviat by phone and they agreed that it would be best to cancel all day classes.
Anyone who visited the Franciscan website Feb. 5 may have noticed a text box with the news of the cancelled classes. This message changed several times during the day, increasing from a two-hour delay, to a cancellation of all day classes, to a cancellation of day and evening classes.
This was due to a mistake. When the new round of alerts were sent through phone calls and texts, people were told that all classes were cancelled. This implied that night classes as well as day classes would not be taking place, causing some confusion. In the interest of avoiding any more confusion, it was decided that it would be best to simply cancel all Wednesday classes, including night classes.
Snow days at Franciscan University tend to be rare, and are usually only determined when the scenario is unavoidable due to bad weather conditions.