Winter Weather Delays Spring Semester

By: Sean Smith

At first glance, a typical snow day might be sledding and hot chocolate. But because of limited class time here at Frederick Community College, students aren’t likely to get more of those.

Photo Illustration by Kaitlin McCallion of the Frederick Community College website on the day of a weather delay.

From the beginning of the spring semester, FCC has consistently been at the center of bad weather. In all likelihood every faculty member or student has missed at least one class due to inclement weather.

FCC opened at 11 am on January 31, February 11, February 12, and February 13. The college also closed early on early on January 29, and February 11. Lastly, FCC was closed all day on January 30, and again on Febuary 20. Students and faculty are already beginning to grow tired of the snow days and missed class time.

            “This has been the worst start to a semester since I have been here,” said Heidi Amtower, a meteorology professor at FCC. “And this is my fourth year here.”

            Frederick has seen a decent amount of precipitation this winter, but it has not come in bunches. Snowfall totals are upwards of 15 inches for the winter season. However, the city has not had more than 6 inches for any single day.

The wintery mixes have simply been coming at bad travel times for students and faculty at the college. For working students, a popular class schedule is from 8:00 to 10:45 a.m. Usually, that would mean two classes, but so far this semester, these students have barely had a classroom to attend.

Students with this schedule have currently missed a total of 9 classes. One of the only methods of teaching and learning that has been vital to the beginning of the semester is Blackboard.

“Blackboard has been super helpful for days that we can’t be in class.” Amtower adds.

            Blackboard is an important tool that allows professors to communicate with students and assign work even if the class does not meet that day. A professor could assign a chapter of the course text and give questions based on the unit with the help of Blackboard. Although this tool is very helpful, it does not replace class time.          

The bad news for Frederick is that the worst weather may not have even passed yet. The end of February and the month of March does not mean spring is here. In the past few years, the city has seen at least 6 inches of snow each year in the month of March.

“February and March have to be considered the worst months for winter weather around here,” Amtower said.

Although the professors are having a tough time getting everything to fit in the semester, how do the students feel about not having class?

“I don’t even know some of my professors’ names yet,” said Ryan Smith, a first year FCC student. “My classes start at 8 a.m., so I barely have even been to the classes I paid for.”

If school closings continue to happen, professors may have to add days at the end of the semester for time missed at the beginning. This could put students at risk of interfering with vacation days or other end of the school year activities.

This has not made been made official by FCC but it is an idea that has been tossed around. For a large portion of faculty and students, most prefer going to school in winter rather than summer. It is also no surprise that a student in their last semester at FCC has a different opinion than someone who is at college for the first time.

“The closings and delays haven’t affected me really,” said Dylan Lavern, a student in his last semester at FCC. “I am pretty familiar with Blackboard and most of my classes are later in the day.”

Students viewpoints on closings will vary from person to person based on how seriously the student treats their classes. For most faculty the snow has put a wrench in their plans.

Unfortunately, the only solution is to pick up the entire school and move it down south to where there is no snow. Sadly, that is not possible yet.

In the meantime, students and faculty will have to work together in order to get the time they need to learn the material for the course. This might be through Blackboard, through email, or if faculty and students are lucky, in person.

            Punxsutawney Phil predicted that spring would arrive two weeks after Groundhog Day, but Heidi Amtower begs to differ.

“Winter is definitely here to stay for a little bit,” said Amtower.

Not the best news to hear from a person who teaches the patterns of weather to many students. So, good luck and be sure to drive safe when the weather is bad!

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