I had my second exam scheduled today and next week is Spring Break. From the inbox:
All classes are canceled Friday, March 7. Campus is closed until noon for employees.
This makes an entire week that the university has canceled my MWF 10-10:50 Stats II class. Each time the cancellation was a good decision. With most students living off campus and public transportation not running, it is just too risky to have thousands of people on slick roads.
That said, a week of class is a long time. A significant chunk of material that I (optimistically) hoped to cover will not be covered this semester (nonparametric statistics, time-series analysis). Several years ago the TR morning classes missed two weeks of class. A few falls ago the university basically canceled finals week due to snow.
There are significant educational costs that have been ignored as part of our adverse weather policy and there is too much snowy weather in Boone to ignore these costs. The only things I can think of is to have (a) some extra class days built in to the academic calendar or (b) have all classes with web content to mitigate the cancellations. When will this happen? Maybe never. In terms of (a) the academic calendar is already too jam packed with two sessions of summer school and a two week break for 12 month contract upper administrator vacations. Our "reading day" before final exams has routinely been moved to a Saturday. In terms of (b) the majority of faculty still don't have the technical skills to get a lecture or quiz online. And given the low morale in the UNC system, faculty are in no mood to have the legislature, UNC general administration or Appstate upper administration pile on any sort of extra work.
The university makes sure to tell faculty that if we are out of town for a conference then we need to have some sort of educational opportunity as a substitute (guest lecture, online quiz). There is no such thing when the administration decides to cancel class. How seriously should I, as a part-time administrator (i.e., department chair), take the upper administration's mandate that I monitor all classes and make sure that faculty don't simply cancel class when they are out of town on university approved travel?
Which brings me back to the awkward logistics of my class. When do I have the exam? Most of the students had already studied by the time class was canceled. The Monday after spring break doesn't sound appealing (half the class will still be on their way back from their Colorado/Utah ski vacation). The Wednesday after makes it two weeks since the last lecture on the material on the exam. Complicating that is the CEO lecture that my students will attend on Friday during class time (I'll be at a conference and business students are strongly encouraged to attend the CEO lecture).
Update: The roads were fine by 11 am. The decision to cancel Friday afternoon classes was nothing more than a "hey, it is spring break and classes won't be doing anything anyway" decision. Sad that the administration has the same attitude as the college students.