Thursday, February 05, 2015

Snowy Days and Mondays

Thanks to snowstorms, we’ve already lost the first two Monday nights of the semester to closings.  According to the folks on the Weather Channel, it’s entirely possible that we’ll lose the third, too.

That would not be good.

Day classes usually meet at least two or three times per week.  If you have a class that meets every Monday, Wednesday, and Friday, then losing the first two Mondays is frustrating, but it amounts to two out of forty-five meetings.  With a bit of adjustment, it can be managed.

But evening classes usually only meet one night per week.  Instead of losing two out of forty-five, they’ve already lost two out of fifteen, and may soon miss three out of fifteen.  That’s a much more significant hit.

Many classes have web-based components, so they can achieve something productive during snow days.  But not all of them do.  (I hope that this year’s weather will prompt more faculty to add online components, but that doesn’t help right now.)  As luck would have it, the lost days were the first days, so the classes haven’t even met yet.  I know that many professors get student contact information on the first day of class, so they could reach out to students that way even if they didn’t have a full-blown online component to the course.  But when the first days are missed, that workaround hasn’t been established yet.

We have makeup days at the end of the semester, and that helps.  But the logistics of attending on a different day of the week can be an issue, especially for evening students and adjunct faculty.  Childcare arrangements and work hours sometimes prevent folks from making it to makeup days, even with the best of intentions.  

Obviously, the best solution would be for the snowstorms to cooperate.  If they would at least pick different days of the week, the scheduling issues would be much easier.  But this year they’ve picked Mondays, and they’re stubbornly resistant to entreaties.  And given that many evening students are already scheduled to within inches of their lives among their various obligations, there are limits to the amount of flexibility we can expect them to have.

Wise and worldly readers, have you seen reasonably elegant workarounds to use when snowstorms stubbornly insist on picking the same day of the week over and over again, even after you’ve politely asked them not to?