Snow Covers EvCC

How People Across Campus Have Dealt With The Closures

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Snow Covers EvCC

EvCC's Whitehorse Hall covered in a layer of snow on Monday, Jan. 13, 2020, which was the first day of campus closures.

EvCC's Whitehorse Hall covered in a layer of snow on Monday, Jan. 13, 2020, which was the first day of campus closures.

Adrianna Vison-Montgomery

EvCC's Whitehorse Hall covered in a layer of snow on Monday, Jan. 13, 2020, which was the first day of campus closures.

Adrianna Vison-Montgomery

Adrianna Vison-Montgomery

EvCC's Whitehorse Hall covered in a layer of snow on Monday, Jan. 13, 2020, which was the first day of campus closures.

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A fresh blanket of snow in Snohomish County stopped the entire campus in its tracks as all EvCC locations were cancelled on Monday, Jan. 13 for the first time this school year. With nearly a week of snow behind us, frustrated students and staff alike are left with lots of catching up to do.

Student Perspective

Snow days have gotten this quarter off to a slow start, and students say a thaw is overdue. Missing four days of classes has some students worried about falling behind, while others have voiced frustration over campus closures.

RAVE alerts are a helpful way to be notified about upcoming campus closures, but sometimes they aren’t doing their job. “I was [signed up] for the email alerts but for some reason this year I guess they didn’t send me an email,” said EvCC student Alisha Williams. Many students have reported not receiving RAVE alerts which only adds to the stress of campus closures.

Numerous students also complained about the confusion surrounding constantly changing RAVE alerts. EvCC student Gihyeon Roh says that numerous contradicting alerts “brings confusion.” He continued on saying that having one alert at 10 p.m. the night before saying one thing and then waking up to another alert saying something else was inconsistent and “not solid.”

For people who do not receive RAVE alerts there was an alert sent out at 8:10 p.m. on Jan. 15 stating that “Everett Community College will be open normal business hours and classes will be held as scheduled on Thursday, Jan. 16.” By 5:14 a.m. the next morning they had already pushed the campus’ opening to 10 a.m. At 7:58 a.m. the college sent out the final alert saying that all EvCC locations were closed for the day due to “icy parking lots.”

Last minute decisions about closures made people who live far away from campus even more frustrated because they were already on campus or on their way by the time the alert went out that school was closed. Lyle Bridge, an EvCC student who lives in Stanwood, said “I came down here to go to school and then it was closed. I made it all the way down here. I had business, I had to pay a fine, but it was closed.”

Savanna Eickerman
EvCC student Alisha Williams on Friday, Jan. 17. Williams was one of numerous students to voice frustration over campus closures.

Moving on from the snow, students are expressing anxiety regarding the uncertainty of how professors will move forward with their courses. EvCC student, Abigail Facchini, spoke on the challenges that the snow has caused and what it means for the rest of the quarter saying that “it’s jumbled up the schedule and it’s made things more complicated.”

Faculty Perspective

There are two ways to feel about the snow days EvCC recently had, and the school’s faculty and staff are just as divided as anyone else. For some the campus closure was a welcome break, while for others the build up of snow meant an equal build up of work to face after the thaw.

For the campus’ Information Technology department, not having anyone on campus meant no new problems were created. The closure was a small vacation to spend with families or simply binge some TV shows.

For Deanna Nield, an Administrative Assistant, the snow meant that she would come back to a pileup of work that backed up during the closure. Nield also pointed out that while the campus was closed for four days, only the first day was covered. The remaining three days used up time off that normally would have gone towards sick or vacation days.

For instructors it can be a more complicated issue for how they will catch up on curriculum. Due dates may be moved, tests rescheduled and class material will need to be covered in different ways.

EvCC does not have a set protocol for making up for campus closures, so instructors are allowed to choose how they will adjust their own course material.

Kyle Ogle
EvCC nursing instructor, Candace Whedon poses for a photo by her desk that is cluttered with piles of paperwork from the snowed-out week.

According to Candace Whedon, a full-time faculty member in the Nursing department, the snow days will be especially difficult on nursing students. Nursing students are required to meet a state mandated number of clinical hours to earn their nursing license. In order to make up for the lost week nursing students might have to make up hours over weekends, or clinical sessions that are eight hours might be extended to twelve hours.

Since this is the second year in a row that snow has closed down the campus, “students were more prepared” for the closure, said Allison Werling, who works in the TRIO Student Support Services Program.

Werling talked to a few students that are feeling nervous about catching up with school work, and faculty members understand that students will be stressed about what kind of impact this will have on the rest of the quarter.

“We try to prepare students,” said Laura Little, who works in the tutoring center, but also notes that in many classes the same amount of material still needs to be covered, and students are still responsible for their own education.

Maintenance Perspective

Most EvCC students have seen some of the people that keep the college running. The custodians, groundskeepers and even the president can be seen walking around campus getting things done.But what about when campus activities screech to a halt? Most students don’t know about it, but there’s a crew for that too.

It all starts with a list of designated employees — the essentials list, as it’s commonly known. This list is created every fall with HR according to Richard Radcliff, EvCC’s Senior Director of Facilities. It is a collection of people from a few departments on campus who are required to come to the main campus during a closure.

Radcliff explained that the crew has to communicate since there’s a lot of scheduling and working involved. Some people work at night and others will pick up early in the morning. “Custodians at night do a big job to help the grounds team,” said Radcliff. He added there were two custodians on campus every night of the four-day closure, as well as people from campus security. “It’s a joint effort,” he said.

Savanna Eickerman
Purple Heat ice melter located in the maintenance facility on campus. Richard Radcliff stated that they use “as much as two to three pallets of ice melt” during the four day closure.

Once on campus, the crew coordinates. “We attack all the handicapped parking spots, the sidewalks, all of those things to get the campus clear and safe to open,” said Radcliff.

The crew also has to check on EvCC’s Corporate & Continuing Education Center as well as the Aviation campus. On Jan. 13 they found a tree had fallen in the parking lot of the CCEC. “We sent people out and removed the trees from the parking lot,” said Radcliff. Roland Tegman, an EvCC Maintenance Mechanic, works to get deicer down around the main campus at night. His usual work, maintaining places like classrooms and offices, was put on hold because the snow and ice were priorities.

 

Ice was a larger issue than expected. Students noticed RAVE Alerts reporting that the college closed “due to icy parking lots” on Jan. 16. The alerts did not report just how icy the parking lots were.

According to Radcliff, at 10 p.m. the previous evening the lots were damp with a little snow. At 4 a.m. conditions were the same. “Between five and six in the morning, we had just an instant freeze. So the temperature changed enough, just in that one hour period, to cause that black ice in all of our parking lots,” said Radcliff. As Tegman put it, the lots were just “a little too treacherous.”

College closures can be difficult. Tegman said he understands where students are coming from: “Some are happy that it’s closed, others are frustrated. I totally get that.” But students can be sure there’s a crew working to ensure the safety of the campus. Radcliff said, “it takes a lot of effort. But there’s people working in the background to get the campus ready to open.”

The Leadership Team Perspective

With nearly an entire week of campus closures, RAVE alerts were being sent out constantly. While many students are familiar with such alerts, they aren’t necessarily familiar with the people behind the decision-making process that leads to these alerts.

The four people that assess weather conditions to make a recommendation to President Willis regarding campus closures are called the Leadership Team. This team consists of Patrick Sisneros, Vice President of College Services; John Bonner, Vice President of Corporate & Workforce Training; Denise Gregory Wyatt, Vice President of Administrative Services; and John Olsen, Vice President of College Advancement.

Savanna Eickerman
Vice President, Pat Sisneros (Left) and Interim Executive Vice President of Instruction and student Services, John Bonner (Right) are apart of the Leadership Team that makes a recommendation to President Willis regarding campus closures.

A variety of factors are taken into consideration when determining whether or not the main campus, as well as all satellite campuses, should be closed. Some factors are on-campus sites such as sidewalks, walkways and parking lots. The team also considers the condition of roads into the campus and whether other school districts in the area are closing. Staff members were also sent out to EvCC’s satellite campuses to determine the conditions of those locations.

Regarding students’ frustrations about Thursday’s late campus closure Patrick Sisneros explained that sudden changes in weather conditions caused them to come to the decision to close all campuses. Around 4:30 a.m. on Thursday, Jan. 16 when the campus was assessed it was deemed safe to open, but by 8 a.m. the campus was closed due to black ice in numerous parking lots.

While the black ice did eventually melt throughout the course of the day Sisneros said that staff “couldn’t be confident that the black ice would go away in that short period of time. It was like an ice rink. So we made the determination for student, staff and community safety that we needed to close the college.”

Savanna Eickerman
Denise Gregory Wyatt in her office on Tuesday, Jan. 21. Wyatt says she sympathizes with students who are feeling frustrated about campus closures.

Denise Gregory Wyatt said that she understood how students could be frustrated by decisions especially ones that are “done quickly.” However, she reiterated that when making decisions the team is always looking at what is safest and best for students and employees. “It’s a difficult decision at times because mother nature is a variable that doesn’t always do what we think she’s going to do,” she added.

The Leadership Team, like everybody else on campus, is currently trying to get caught up on all the things the snow prevented them from doing. Campus maintenance alongside the grounds crew, custodians and campus security continue to work around the clock to keep campus clean and safe. In the meantime, students and faculty return to their normal classes and schedules, hoping to get back on track.

 

Additional Clipper staff members contributed to the reporting used in this article.