Campus News

Don’t count on UB moving classes online for snow days

Hayes Hall during a 2016 snow storm. .

Photo: Douglas Levere

By JAY REY

Published December 1, 2021

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“If you are considering remote options to maintain academic continuity, please note that the cancellation of classes and events due to severe weather applies to remote as well as in-person classes. ”
Graham Hammill, vice provost for academic affairs

When classes are called off due to inclement weather or unexpected emergencies, they are canceled for all students — whether in person or remote, UB officials say.

The university clarified its snow-day procedures with winter approaching and questions about UB pivoting to remote classes during bad weather, just as it had for the pandemic last year.

“If you are considering remote options to maintain academic continuity, please note that the cancellation of classes and events due to severe weather applies to remote as well as in-person classes,” Graham Hammill, vice provost for academic affairs, wrote in a recent memo to faculty.

UB cites the need to provide an equitable work environment for students. Severe weather could result in power outages and prevent students from joining class online. Students also may find themselves in surroundings that are less conducive to learning.

If classes are canceled, course content may be provided remotely, Hammill says, but it must be delivered asynchronously, such as a pre-recorded video. Ample time also must be given to students for review.

Faculty can find helpful strategies to promote the continuation of coursework on the newly launched Maintaining Instructional Continuity website

During winter session, when the majority of classes are fully remote, courses offered synchronously online should move to asynchronous if classes are canceled, Hammill says. Winter session runs from Jan. 5-25.

And in cases where classes are not canceled, but students still feel it is unsafe to travel to campus due to the weather, they should notify their professors and arrange to make up all assignments. Students are not penalized if they can’t make it to class because of severe weather, according to UB policy.

A few other things to keep in mind as UB gears up for wintry weather:

  • UB’s Emergency Planning Oversight Committee, a cross-section of representatives from around the university, will conference call as early as 5 a.m. to discuss whether conditions warrant recommending to the president that he cancel or delay classes and activities for the day.

That recommendation is made after considering the regional weather, forecast and road conditions; area travel bans and restrictions; capacity to clear campus roadways, parking lots and sidewalks; and the ability to provide bus service on and between campuses. Safety is the primary consideration.

  • If the decision is made to cancel classes, the UB community is primarily notified through UB Alert. The system sends emergency texts to cell phones and emails to everyone who has a UB address. Notification also will be made through UB’s social media and the 645-NEWS hotline, as well as traditional media outlets.
  • Employees should review procedures for cancellations due to adverse weather. As per state policy, employee absences in these cases will be charged to appropriate leave accruals. Those deemed essential employees are still expected to report.