Vice Chancellor: Cancelling school never a simple decision

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By Michael Wunder, News Editor

On Tuesday, Feb. 1, UNO closed early at 3 p.m due to unfavorable winter weather. Bitter cold and powerful winds pummeled the metro area while snow shrouded the city.

However, many students didn’t understand why UNO didn’t simply cancel classes Monday night.

Across campus, students expressed discontent at UNO’s remaining open despite decisions by many Omaha school districts to close classes for the day.

“The fact that UNO is a commuter school should be taken into consideration,” said sophomore Kelly Duckert, a Biology major. “I think they made the call too late. Most people are done with school by 3 p.m..”

In an e-mail interview Tuesday, Vice Chancellor William Conley offered some insight into UNO’s decision.

“Keep in mind that the decision process for a K-12 school district is often different than the process for a college or university,” Conley said. “The impact of cold and wind is considered and safety of our students is extremely important. However, closing UNO due to cold and wind alone is less likely than what a K-12 school district might decide to do.”

Students attending K-12 schools are at greater risk when exposed to lower temperatures, Conley said.

The actions of other higher education institutions are considered as well.

“We also look to decisions by other colleges and universities,” Conley said. “Today, Creighton University, UNMC and Bellevue University are open.”

University officials continually evaluate campus road and sidewalk conditions as well as weather forecasts.

“The decision on closing the UNO campus is never a simple one,” Conley said. “We look to the business community and closures as input. To the extent possible, we want to enable classes and university activities to occur.”

If classes are not cancelled, students who feel driving would put them in danger are not necessarily obligated to make the commute to campus.

“The condition of roads throughout Omaha as well as outside of Omaha often varies significantly,” Conley said. “Students should use their best judgment and be aware of road and weather conditions in their area. If any student feels that a trip to campus poses an unacceptable safety risk, they should stay home and contact their professor.”

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