School Closing: What is the Procedure?

By Zack Srnis

Weather in Ohio can cause problems for college commuter students in the winter. Youngstown State University is prepared for winter weather and has a protocol in place for cancelling or closing the university due to it.

“The procedure for a snow event hasn’t really changed much,” John Hyden, executive director of Facilities and Support Services at YSU, said. “I meet with my grounds director and we brief about the snow and ice and what we are dealing with on that given day.”

Hyden said that during a typical day of snow, the grounds crew is out salting the roads and sidewalks as early as 4 a.m. If more snow falls, then the plows come out.

Dave Ewing, associate director of the Grounds Department at YSU, mentioned that they check media for the percentage of snowfall and that they receive a call from the campus police telling them to remove the snow.

“We arrive at 2 [a.m.] to 3 [a.m.], sometimes even 4 [a.m.],” Ewing said. “We have six pickups and three dump trucks and we have a jeep that clears the sidewalks. We are usually done by 7 a.m.”

AccuWeather and other weather programs and apps are used to determine if there will be snow, how much is predicted and the degree of certainty of the forecast.

“I also talk with local police [or] I will go out and drive in it myself,” Hyden said. “That is the best way for me to make my call … I cannot confidently make the call without driving in it first.”

If Hyden thinks the weather is bad enough to possibly cancel or delay classes, he reaches out to YSU President Jim Tressel, who then makes the final decision.

Class can either be cancelled or the university can be closed.

Closing the university, the less likely of the two, means nobody is going to the university on that day. If classes are cancelled, the university is still open. Faculty must report to work even if students do not have to report to class.

After the call to either close the university or cancel class is made, Hyden must then get the word out to the university population.

“Social media has been a huge help in this regard,” Hyden said. “Students are more likely to check social media more so than any other form of media … We also utilize the campus alert system that students get through their email … [and] tell the local news outlets.”

Ron Cole, public information officer of marketing & communications at YSU, said that the alert system is set in place so that students and employees of the university can get alerted of a delay or closing by text or email.

Cole mentioned, however, that the only way to receive text alerts is for them to sign up on the YSU’s website.

“We want as many students as possible to sign up for the text alerts,” Cole said.  “We want to make sure that the students instantly see the alerts and the text almost ensures that.”