Tuesday, February 16, 2010

A Conversation about Weather

We have had many questions about weather closings and delays lately. Let's take a moment and discuss how we deal with weather here at Vol State.

Winter weather can be a real pain, and for some a real problem. We have a big service area. Some folks live in the city and some out in the country. Road conditions can be quite different. That's why it's important you make note of the student policies regarding inclement weather.

Here is part of the policy from the Student Handbook:

"It is not necessary to inform teachers in advance of absences due to inclement weather. Even though the College is “open” in full or in part, students and college personnel should not endanger their lives or safety, by attempting to reach campus when their local road conditions prohibit safe travel. Students are on an “honor” system in observing this, but where such local hazardous conditions exist, individual students may be entitled to an excused absence (privilege of making up missed work). Keep in mind, that relative hazards may vary, within the College's 12-county service area and the decision to be opened or closed will relate to the generally prevailing conditions."

"Students will be responsible for any academic work which they missed due to absences caused by severe weather conditions, and it is the individual student’s responsibility to take the initiative to make up class work missed."

To read the rest visit: http://www.volstate.edu/StudentHandbook/?ref=current

So, how is it best to find out about campus closings and delays? The quickest and easiest method is via text alerts. You simply sign up and we send a message to you. It happens nearly as quickly as the decision is made. You can sign up by going here: http://www.volstate.edu/PublicRelations/TextAlert.php

The second best method is to visit the college main website: www.volstate.edu

We have programmed the text alerts to appear on the front page. It takes about 10-15 minutes for it to appear on the front page once the text alert is sent out. You can also see the alert message via Twitter and the College Blog. They come up pretty quickly after the text alert is sent.

We also put the closings and delays on area television stations. However, this system is not very detailed. Most stations only let us say that the campus is opening a certain number of hours late. We always use an 8 a.m. start time as the assumed time. People may have 7am classes. They should still view the delayed opening as an assumed 8am start time. Three of the TV stations will not allow us to be more specific. It is their system and not ours. Channel 5 has a more specific system that allows us to pick the exact time when the campus is opening. No matter what you will have to wait for the college listing to scroll through the other hundred or more listings before it will come up. We have separate listings for the Vol State main campus and the Vol State Livingston campus for Channels 2, 4 and 5. Fox 17 has not provided us a separate listing, so Fox 17 should only be monitored for information about the main campus.

Closings and delays are reported on area radio stations, including Vol State radio WVCP 88.5 FM. WVCP may be your best bet for a radio listing, because they of course report the Vol State closing or delay more frequently than other stations.

The President or another appointed member of the administration makes the call about delays or closings. Usually this occurs early in the morning. Occasionally if conditions develop early the call will be made the night before. As soon as that decision is made many people are notified and the text alert is sent and the media closing process begins. It usually takes about a half hour for the media outlets to be notified.

We hope this helps to clarify things. These decisions are never easy. I wish I could say we won't have to deal with it again this year, but given the weather patterns we may have more weather issues in the next few weeks.

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