Although UW’s Stratford campus closed on Friday February 28 due to severe weather conditions, all other UW campuses will resume business as usual.
UW’s website published a weather statement on Feb. 26, warning students about the severe weather expected in the days ahead.
“Snow accumulation around 10 cm is expected between Wednesday evening and Thursday morning. Experts warn people should be on the lookout for adverse weather conditions and take necessary safety precautions,” UW’s statement read.
It added that UW will continue to monitor weather conditions and post relevant updates to its homepage by 6 a.m.
On Friday morning, UW’s homepage announced that the Stratford campus would be closed for the day but all other campuses would remain open.
“Stratford campus closed today – Friday, February 28, 2020. Due to road and weather conditions in Stratford, University of Waterloo’s Stratford campus is closed today. All other campuses remain open at this time,” UW’s statement regarding the closure read.
According to UW guidelines, the University and affiliated colleges are forced to close during extreme weather conditions since normal operations under this weather can be potentially dangerous for students and employees.
“The decision to close a satellite campus is taken by the UW administrator taking into account local conditions in that area,” Matthew Grant, Director Media Relations at UW said.
“The safety of students, faculty, and staff is a top priority for the University. The University has weather closing guidelines that [it] uses in making decisions on campus closures.”
Some students, however, were disappointed with UW’s decision to stay open during a snowstorm, arguing that the university should have closed its main Waterloo campus on Friday.
“[This is] the biggest [snow storm] we have had this year. Not only was it snowing heavily for three consecutive days [but] it has been cold and windy, [aswell]” Deman Dulat, a third year Arts student said.
Dulat believes that the main campus should have closed on Friday. He explained that although he lives on Phillip St., a five to seven minute walk from UW, he had difficulty walking to campus because the road and sidewalks were not shovelled and the strong wind was blowing in his face, making it difficult to see ahead as he walked. As a result, Dulat said that because of the adverse weather conditions, he resorted to taking the bus, which added an extra 10 to 15 minutes to his commute to campus.
Dulat believes that UW could have afforded to give students a day off on Friday, noting that many students did not have classes on that day and he thinks that UW faculty and staff would have appreciated not having to drive to work given the circumstances.
“The snow storm was pretty bad. The most difficult part about getting to class these past [couple of] days was walking to the train stops because the sidewalks and roads were covered in snow and not plowed much or at all – which meant it took longer to get to wherever I was going,” Tiffany Needle, a third year Arts student said.
Needle said that she noticed her classes were missing a few people and a lot of them came in late.
Needle also believes that UW should have closed its main campus on Friday since a lot of people rely on public transit and driving which where both deemed unsafe during this time.
On Thursday evening Environment Canada issued a snow squall watch and a blowing snow advisory for Waterloo Region.
“Conditions are favourable for snow squalls to develop off Lake Huron [and] this snow squall event is expected to last until Saturday morning. Travel will become hazardous, and people are advised to consider changing their travel plans accordingly,” Environment Canada’s statement read.
Environment Canada had also issued a snow squall warning for Stratford on Friday .
“A couple of well organized snow squalls southeast of Lake Huron will continue to move southward tonight. Widespread blowing snow with local whiteout conditions are occurring. Travel remains dangerous and is strongly discouraged. 10 to 30 cm of new snowfall is expected tonight,” the statement read.
UW’s Weather Closing Guidelines, which were last revised on December 7th 2016, specify that the decision to close because of severe weather will be made UW’s Provost in consultation with the Director of Police Services, the Associate Vice-President, Communications, and the Director of Custodial & Grounds Services. “The information will also be monitored from the municipal and provincial police, Grand River Transit, Environment Canada, and other relevant agencies and institutions,” UW’s Weather Closing Guidelines reads.