At the time of writing this article, a new storm blankets campus. As what remained of the last storm freezes again, one is reminded of the rather nontraditional change to the idea of a “snow day”. Last week’s nor’easter, which started on Sunday, January 31, found many people in the Tri-State area bracing themselves indoors.
At around 7:00 p.m. that Sunday, Governor Murphy declared a state of emergency to ensure that all nonessential state personnel did not risk their safety due to the storm. According to Diane D’Amico, Director of News and Media at Stockton, University Relations and Marketing (URM) had sent out a message cancelling in-person classes prior to Murphy’s statewide order. This cancellation would later be extended through the following day at around 4:30pm to include classes held on Tuesday February 2nd.
The university considers many factors in the decision making process for campus closures, especially noting the high commuter population and faculty requirements to get to campus on time. Since Stockton is relatively close to the ocean, a maritime effect is at play, allowing for the weather around campus to be slightly milder than areas to the north and western parts of the state. Though for a majority of the faculty and student body, classes were unaffected by the storms due in large part to the virtual learning environment that has been in place due to the pandemic.
Students required to have in-person classes were informed by their professors of changes to the schedule and planned accordingly. A prime example of this quick change can be seen in the NAMS department as many in person labs on Monday and Tuesday were changed to later dates or were swapped to one of the virtual labs that was planned for a week after.
For a majority of the student body and faculty, the idea of a traditional snow day has vanished. As long as wifi and power held during the storms, Zoom classes or other virtual platforms could still be accessed and work could be accomplished. Speaking with Diane D’Amico, she confirmed that while traditionally snow would be a disruption of classes and thus impede student learning, with virtual classes there is less of a disruption due to the weather and not all classes would need to get cancelled. There still would be times in which large cancellations can occur outside of major weather events if a large majority of students and faculty are unable to access virtual classes due to power outages or downed internet connections.
For students wishing to be as up to date as possible about school cancellations or other Stockton alerts, D’Amico advises students to sign up for text alerts if they have not done so already. Go to the “Student Service” tab in GoPortal and look for the “Personal Information” box. Here there should be a hyperlink to update text message contact information for students. Otherwise, the second best option is to check the university’s website and social media accounts. With virtual learning a major part of college life, there is a lower chance of a snowstorm hindering education.