Students prepare for classes to resume

A+tree+covered+in+ice+on+Marshall+University%27s+campus

Sara Alasttal

A tree covered in ice on Marshall University’s campus

Marshall students are preparing to brave the winter weather as classes resume following a week of cancellations and delays due to weather conditions and power outages.  

“Out of all the time I have been at Marshall, which has been a little over three years now, we have never been off for so long,” said Darby McCloud, a senior commuter student. “I know we have had a snow day every now and then, but I have never seen something like a week off at Marshall.”  

Marshall began to respond to the winter storm by closing campus at 4 p.m. Wednesday, Feb. 10.  

The university canceled both in-person and virtual classes on Wednesday, Feb. 10 and Thursday, Feb. 11. Then the university ordered a two-hour delay and the early closure of campus on Monday, Feb. 15, which led to the cancelation of classes for the entirety of the week. 

McCloud said she believes it was necessary for Marshall to close all week.  

“When this all happened, the first thing I thought of was ‘how am I going to get to campus?’ I have one in-person class,” said McCloud.  

McCloud said she commutes from a hollow in Chesapeake, Ohio, where it is difficult to drive to campus in icy weather.  

“Last Thursday, we lost power for a couple of days, and then it came on, and now since Monday, we have not had anything,” said McCloud.  

McCloud said that virtual classes were equally necessary to cancel due to the mass power outages leaving students without internet access.  

Sara Al-Astal, a senior commuter student, said she lost power the evening of Friday, Feb. 12.

“I got lucky because we have not had class since the power went out Friday. It was just really hard because my brother and I would have to wake up every morning hoping that classes were canceled because we did not have internet access or electricity, and I could not charge anything.”  

Al-Astal said she could not make any arrangements to do her homework for her classes. “There are no hard and fast guidelines,” said Ginny Painter, Senior Vice President for Communications and Marketing, regarding the process of deciding university closures and delays. “Each situation is different, and judgment calls have to be made each time.”  

Al-Astal said she and her brother would have benefited if the school was Feb. 15 instead of the two-hour delay that the university issued.  

“Generally, an ad-hoc group representing the offices of the president, provost/academic affairs, public safety, operations/physical plant, human resources and university communications meets by phone to discuss the condition of campus grounds and facilities. They review road conditions and the power outage situation,” said Painter.  

In-person classes may be delayed or canceled if the weather impacts roads, while virtual classes may continue. 

“I know a lot of people like myself; we have hills leading up to our houses that are really dangerous and do not get salted when weathers get bad,” said Al-Astal. “Anything small could have happened driving on them, and it would have been a very dangerous situation.”  

The ad-hoc group uses information from agencies such as the Department of Highways, National Weather Service, regional power utilities and other sources to determine what to do during extreme weather, said Painter.  

“If there are also widespread power outages and large numbers of students and/or faculty may not have power, then virtual classes may also be delayed/canceled,” said Painter.  

Al-Astal said that given the situation as a commuter student, she would appreciate it if all professors understood their students’ varying situations.  

“Even other faculty members that they work with are also without power, so the only reasonable and humane thing to do is to postpone everything simply a week back, even though some things would be cut out of the material,” said Al-Astal.  

Al-Astal said it is unfair to put the additional stress of assignments being due while classes are canceled because some students have no way to access them without WiFi at home.   

“I know some professors that have still been uploading lectures and saying that this is basically class time and [students] should still be watching these videos,” said Al-Astal.  

Al-Astal said she has had many professors adjust their class schedules to accommodate the inclement weather.   

“The safety of students should be the most important thing,” said Al-Astal. “No student should be sitting in the dark worrying about whether they are going to fail a class or not because professors have not moved their deadlines back.”  

Classes are set to resume this week, and there is no current forecast predicting another major storm.