To Close or Not to Close?




Commuter Corner 
By Shani Farrell
To close or not to close?  That is the question.  As I sit up on Tuesday, February 6, 2018, it was the exact question that I asked myself.  As the clock ticked on, I wondered, am I going to be stuck driving to school at the height of this upcoming storm because Fitchburg State University didn’t cancel class?  But that’s impossible, I think to myself.  Of course they will cancel class; half of the students that attend FSU are commuters.
Fast forward to Wednesday morning and no cancellation for classes at 7:00am as I get ready for work, which also didn’t close (story for another day).  The stress I am immediately filled with paralyzes me.  I cannot drive to work in this storm, I simply can’t. It ended up being a moot point as the University did, in fact, cancel classes from 11am on, but the fact remains.  I can’t help but think of the commuters who have a full day of classes on Wednesday that drove all the way to campus, some near, but some quite far away, for one class, maybe two? Just to be sent home shortly after arrival?
I am fortunate to have an afternoon class on Wednesday’s, but had this been a Tues/Thurs my situation would have been that very thing.  So, I guess, if you’re reading this, then you think my answer is to close.  However, as a mother and teacher myself, I do understand the perils of deciding when to close the school and when not too.  I cannot imagine the pressure that our University President, Dr. Lapidus is under.  Close, and no storm comes, or the weather seemingly isn’t “as bad” as we thought then you have staff and students alike up in arms.  Stay open, and you run the risk of having half your students and your staff in serious trouble come the commute home.  It’s a thin line between staying open and closing in this region.  In all my researching I couldn’t figure out how many snow days we had last semester during this time.  Interestingly, on February 7, 2017, we were also closed for inclement weather.  I got that little bit of information from Facebook.
So, in all my infinite wisdom, what is the solution?  Is there a middle ground?  Can one please everyone when it comes to this particular issue?  Not likely is my answer, but I do have my thoughts as a commuter, mother and teacher how to approach the situation.  If the public school system of a town closes for the day, then the subsequent college, university, preschools and after-school programs or anything should also close.  What’s my reasoning behind that? It’s simple.  With no school buses on the road or small children walking, the city will likely hold off on the treatment of the roads until it’s time for folks to drive home.  I assume the thinking is, if all the kids are at home, so are the parents.  Let it snow peacefully for a few hours and then we will go out and hit the roads with our plows.  Sometimes in Fitchburg, the city doesn’t hit the roads at all on the day of the storm (again a story for another day).  So, if on Tuesday evening, Fitchburg Public Schools has officially closed for the day, it would be great to get the email/text/phone call that FSU has closed as well.  Then hooray I don’t have to do that homework that was due the next day, write that paper or get that story in.  I can pop a bottle of something, soda if you’re underage, wine if you aren’t, and quite literally Netflix and chill.
Or you can do something a friend of mine called: snow roulette.  Throw all caution to the wind, and pretend you have a snow day!  Although that could leave you with a mess on your hands, but fun and exhilarating in the moment?  Not sure I’m fully convinced of that, but I am convinced that if the city is closed, so shall the college.  Takes all the guesswork out of it, for all concerned parties.  Making the life of a commuter, this commuter specifically, much less stressful.  Cheers.