RIP snow days: Georgetown implements new instructional continuity policy

In an email sent two weeks ago, University Registrar John Pierce reminded the Georgetown University community that they’ve killed the snow day.

That’s not to say that Georgetown won’t ever close due to bad weather. Instead, the Registrar’s office has put together a robust instructional continuity policy that will ensure that students and faculty effectively cover academic material—even when the weather’s bad.

“[S]tudents should be prepared to participate in the alternate instructional activities planned by their faculty members instead of attending face-to-face class when circumstances prevent on-campus instruction,” Pierce wrote in his email. Much of the online alternate instructional activities will depend on Blackboard, Georgetown’s online course resource, or videos produced by professors to reach students on days when the University closes.

Additionally, the University’s “liberal leave” status, when professors have the option to cancel class due to inclement weather, has been updated. Now, liberal leave means professors have the option to switch to the instructional continuity plan instead of holding class.

Director of Emergency Management and Operational Continuity Thomas O’Regan clarified this new policy in an email to Vox.

“Specific instructional continuity directives will come from individual faculty members,” O’Regan wrote. “Faculty members shall prepare for the possibility of an interruption of face-to-face instruction by establishing a policy within the course syllabus to maintain instructional continuity in the case of an unforeseen disruption. During a campus ‘closure’, the regular class time schedule shall be honored by all campus departments so that students will remain available for those faculty members who wish to maintain continuous academic progress through synchronous distance instruction.”

That’s right. No more skipping that 8:30 class when there’s a snow day. Students gotta get up and enjoy some of that fancy synchronous distance instruction.

According to O’Regan, Blackboard has been tested specifically to ensure that it can handle any extra load it might suffer during snow days.

“All decisions for University openings or closures continue to be dependent upon the severity, scale and scope of the weather and related effects or potential impacts to public safety,” O’Regan wrote when asked if there will now be a lower standard for University closure.

Vox is saddened that the middle school and high school era of true snow days is over, but at least the Registrar is making sure he’s getting his tuition’s worth.

Photo: Ambika Ahuja/Georgetown Voice

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