With temperatures falling well below zero Thursday, many Ohio State students called for classes to be canceled.
The National Weather Service predicted a high temperature of 4 degrees and a low of minus 11, with a windchill as low as minus 22 degrees.
Although it’s rare for OSU, canceling class is not unprecedented. Last year, classes were called off for three days. The low temperature was at least minus 7 each time.
Administration and Planning spokesman Dan Hedman said before last year, a full day of classes had not been canceled since 2009. Overall, OSU has only canceled classes on roughly 11 occasions since 1978.
Bob Armstrong, the director of emergency management and fire prevention, said input for canceling classes comes from multiple groups on campus, including the Department of Public Safety, Student Life and CampusParc, among others.
“If anyone within that group thinks that the weather conditions may warrant a discussion … I’ll pull the group together and we have that talk,” he said. “Our goal is to make a decision before 5 a.m. the day of.”
Armstrong also said the group of organizations would make a consensus recommendation, which is sent to senior management at Bricker Hall.
The senior management then discusses the issue and sends its thoughts to the university president and provost. Armstrong said the president and provost make the final decision.
“There is no absolute temperature, snowfall amount or other specific hazard that triggers a closure,” Hedman said in an email. “Each situation is considered holistically — analyzing the entire picture rather than each individual component.”
Armstrong discussed three factors the group of organizations will look at when making its decision: Snow, ice, and temperature.
Thursday’s forecast called for extreme cold but no precipitation.
“Its all about the different conditions,” Armstrong said. “How long is the wind blowing? Is it a sustained wind or is it wind gusts?”
All of these questions are asked and discussed before the decision to cancel classes is made.
If the university decides students should attempt to brave the weather, Hedman offered a few tips.
“We recommend that students dress appropriately for the weather,” he said. “If they cannot attend class due to weather, as with any missed class, students are encouraged to contact the instructor and make arrangements. The university takes very seriously its obligation to provide the full measure of instruction to tuition-paying students, and for that reason, we try to remain open.”