With the official first day of winter just a few weeks away, officials at Western Carolina University are making plans now for how the campus will respond in the case of inclement weather events that can cause hazardous driving conditions.
WCU Provost Angela Brenton is taking the opportunity to remind faculty, staff and students that the university traditionally does not close its operations or cancel classes on the Cullowhee campus. The university’s weather policy is designed to avoid mass disruption of classes during winter weather situations, Brenton said.
“One change we are making for this year is that all official announcements about weather-related schedule changes will be made on the WCU website (at www.wcu.edu),” she said. “Using our own website will allow announcements to be posted more promptly than relying on local television and radio stations. It also will allow us to include more specific information about closures on the Cullowhee campus, at the Biltmore Park site in Asheville, and other instructional sites.”
Online classes will not be affected by closure of face-to-face classes because to weather conditions, she said.
University officials expect students living on campus to be able to attend classes during the typical winter weather event, Brenton said. Students, faculty and staff who commute to campus should pay particular attention to the section of WCU’s weather policy that states those groups “should exercise discretion and good judgment in deciding whether to attempt travel during hazardous conditions,” she said.
“When inclement weather hits at a time when our resident students are here on campus, we usually will continue with our regular schedule of classes, even though some commuting students and faculty might not be able to travel safely to campus,” Brenton said. “We do expect our students to attend classes, but they also need to pay attention to weather forecasts and local road reports. We do not expect our students to place themselves in dangerous situations. Our faculty members have been advised to accommodate those students who cannot make it to class because of weather conditions.”
In the event that road conditions prevent a faculty member from reaching the Cullowhee campus, the faculty member is expected to notify the department head or dean as soon as possible so that his or her class can be covered or canceled, she said. The instructor also should notify students whenever possible so they will not commute to campus only to find that the instructor was unable to make it to class. Each instructor is expected to develop a plan for making up class time missed due to inclement weather, Brenton said.
The university will continue to cancel or postpone classes in situations when the weather is particularly extreme or when severe winter weather hits the region at a time when students will be traveling back to Cullowhee after an extended break, Brenton said.
For classes held at Biltmore Park, WCU will closely monitor weather conditions in the Asheville area. Closure decisions for those classes generally will follow the lead of UNC Asheville, although decisions for night classes may vary because of the large number of WCU students who commute from other locations. If conditions allow for a late start for day classes, Biltmore Park classes will begin at 10 a.m.
Classes held at Asheville-Buncombe Technical Community College will continue to follow the lead of the host institution and will be canceled only when A-B Tech cancels classes.
Decisions on classes in Cherokee will be made by the director of the Cherokee Center in consultation with the dean of educational outreach, Brenton said.
All faculty and staff members are encouraged to familiarize themselves with University Policy 41, “Leave During Adverse Weather Conditions,” and faculty members should be knowledgeable about section 5.03 of the Faculty Handbook titled “Cancellation/Disruption of Classes,” she said.
Questions about WCU’s response to winter weather events should be directed to the Office of the Provost at 828-227-7495.