The end of snow days: Provost launches initiative to hold class during campus closures
While Georgetown students frolicked and pranced in the fresh snow last Tuesday, little did they know that they were witnessing the end of an era. As snow descended and twilight fell, each snowflake marked the fast-fleeting moments of perhaps the last true snow day at Georgetown University.
Provost Robert Groves has launched a new policy to have classes during a school closure, such as a snow day or hurricane. On Friday, the Main Campus Executive Faculty, a legislative body comprised of representatives from each of Georgetown’s departments, voted in favor of the initiative, Ian Gale, Chief of the MCEF, told Vox in an email.
There is no word yet on when exactly this policy will be officially enacted, but the approval by the MCEF is certainly a step towards its debut.
Groves’ initiative, called Academic Continuity Planning, asks professors to plan ahead so that they may hold class in some capacity despite a campus closure. That capacity could range from a blog post on an assigned reading to recording a lecture capture to holding a Skype session with the class in real time. Other suggestions for faculty on how to maintain ‘academic continuity’ can be found on the Provost’s Academic Continuity website. (The site’s graphic of the Hilltop under inhospitable weather conditions is especially ominous).
The Provost’s new policy creates a differentiation between previously synonymous terms: campus closure and class cancellation. A letter from the Office of the Provost to Georgetown faculty explained the new policy: “During a campus closure, the regular class schedule will be honored and remain in place for those faculty who wish to maintain continuous academic progress through synchronous instruction.”
With this new policy implemented, campus closure will entail students feverishly checking Gmail and Blackboard for the day’s assignment, rather than care-free tromping through snow drifts and sipping marshmallow-filled hot chocolate.
The impetus for this initiative was born in part from the well-remembered Snowpocalypse of 2010, where the Georgetown campus was closed for four days.
“A few years ago about a week of school was missed due to snow, and it really threw a wrench in the semester. Now that we have the technology, professors can make a plan for what to do,” said Professor Wayne Davis, Chair of the Philosophy Department and his department’s representative on the MCEF. “It is perfectly rational to me for the executive faculty to support such a plan. If the school can find a way to continue class, that is a good thing.”
Vox is waiting for comment from the Provost’s Office on the change, and will update the post accordingly.