By Alexa D’Aiello
Waking up on a snowy morning to the notification that classes are canceled is a relief that all college students can relate to. Since the pandemic, these notifications are nonexistent as classes can be held virtually, leading many to wonder if the College has had its last snow day.
When students were first sent home last spring, there were no thoughts about how Zoom might affect future snow days amid cool temperature and summer around the corner. Now as society looks to return to normal, it is a relevant factor to consider when thoughts of in-person instruction are brought up for the fall 2021 semester.
David Muha is the Associate Vice President for Communications, Marketing and Brand Management at the College, but most students refer to him as “the snow day guy.”
“Covid has kind of killed the snow day,” Muha said jokingly.
Muha may be the face of snow days around campus, but when it comes to the ultimate decision, he simply makes the announcement. This school year is the first that he is officially part of the snow day decision-making process.
The provost at the College is responsible for assembling the team that comes together and ultimately decides if an incoming storm is severe enough to cancel classes. The College’s current provost is Jeff Osborn, who took over for Bill Keep this past year.
Before Covid-19, professors never thought to use virtual instruction on a snow day, but now times have changed. Muha explained how professors have always had the option to hold online instruction during snow days, phrasing emails a certain way to keep options open. Although the option was available, most professors never opted to use it.
With all classes operating virtually in some way, even flex ones, it’s easy for professors to keep instruction online if there is inclement weather.
Calling a snow day during this spring semester only designates flex students and faculty to hold online instruction he explains. The main priority of the snow day team is to keep those on campus or coming to campus safe from hazardous weather conditions.
“Practically speaking, there is no such thing as a snow day this year,” Muha said. As far as the future, the pandemic could quite possibly change snow days for good. Muha, along with many students, hopes it won’t be the end of the occasional snow day, but professors are on the fence about what they will decide to do when the pandemic is a thing of the past.
Dr. Paul D’Angelo, a professor in the Communication Studies Department and a friendly face at the College, is on the border when considering if he will use Zoom after the pandemic.
He thinks it could be a useful tool, but as far as future snowstorms canceling class, he said, “I probably won’t end up using Zoom if there’s a snow day…. Professors like a little time off too.”
The hassle of making the transition back and forth from Zoom to in-person teaching would be the main issue for professors trying to teach on snow days, D’Angelo explains.
What will happen with snow days in the future remains a mystery. Muha and the rest of the College’s staff are currently focusing on fall 2021 and getting everyone in person 100%. With this goal in mind, students still hope to have snow days in the future.
Tyler Stasienko, a senior communication studies major at the College, hopes for students to still get to experience the relief a snow day has to offer. “A lot of people need that because they’re taking more difficult classes or have stuff going on in their lives,” she said.
No one can know for sure what will happen when classes are back in person, but some faculty and staff are definitely on the side of snow days.
“When we’re back in person, the considerations for calling a snow day are different….there is hope,” Muha said.