How the Public Safety Team, president determine snow days

Julia Trowbridge

Although rare, Colorado State University does sometimes give students a snow day.

The decision to give a snow day is determined by the Public Safety Team and CSU’s president. It is based on operations of local public schools and city and county offices, the City of Fort Collins’ Emergency Management recommendations, road conditions, the conditions and safety of the campus and personal assessments, according to University guidelines.

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How snow days are determined:

CSU tries to make their decision on whether to close the campus or delay the start of classes by 5:30 a.m. for overnight storms, according to the guidelines.

The Public Safety Team and the University president also make the decision to re-open campus the next day if the weather clears up. That decision is announced the evening before or by 5:30 a.m. the following day. 

Although students are still expected to attend their classes if they are not canceled due to the snow, the University advises students and employees to make accommodations and to use good judgment if it is unsafe for them to travel to the University based on individual circumstances.

If the campus is closed, students and employees are asked not to be on campus.

Students and employees are notified of school closures or delays through CSU’s social media, a SOURCE article and a University-wide text and email. The Collegian will also notify students and employees of school closures or delays.

Helpful tips for staying safe on the road in the snowy weather from the American Red Cross:

Make sure everyone has their seat belts on and give your full attention to the road.
Don’t follow other vehicles too closely. Sudden stops are difficult on snowy roadways.
Don’t use cruise control when driving in winter weather.
Don’t pass snow plows.
Ramps, bridges and overpasses freeze before roadways.

How commuting students, faculty work around snow day decisions:

Although it might be difficult to walk from a dorm to a class across campus, it might not always be safe to go to campus if CSU doesn’t close campus for the day, according to students and professors.

Nick Teslish, a junior physics major, commutes from Cheyenne, Wyoming. Although he hasn’t experienced a day that he couldn’t make it to campus in the past year and a half, he said he’s been lucky and hopes to be able to get to campus in the future.

“It’s always been a worry in the back of my mind, because if they do close that road down, I have no way to get to my classes,” Teslish said.

Deborah Dimon, an English professor who commutes from Greeley, said both official snow days and individual classes canceled due to personal safety issues can be a disruption to their course schedule.

Dimon said she hasn’t experienced too many days where she couldn’t make it to Fort Collins when the campus was still open, but when she couldn’t make it to classes, she had the tools to inform the department and her students to make accommodations.

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The University closing campus isn’t that much of an inconvenience, but bad weather is an inconvenience with keeping the course on track, Dimon said.

“I think (CSU does) a pretty good job,” Dimon said. “It’s hard to make a call like that at four or five in the morning. … Maybe to err on the side of safety is the better way to go, but I’m sure they have their reasons. Mostly, it’s done well, but if you do leave at about six in the morning and if it hasn’t been called yet, it’s dicey, but I certainly didn’t have many problems this semester.”

Collegian reporter Julia Trowbridge can be reached at news@collegian.com or on twitter @chapin_jules.