When many students were holding their breath in anticipation of a snow day Sunday evening, an email from University Registrar John Q. Pierce dampened the exciting prospect of a three-day weekend.
Almost three hours before students received notice that classes had been cancelled Monday, Pierce informed the Georgetown community that the university had exceeded its capacity for snow days. He proposed three alternatives in his email: synchronous online classes that day, asynchronous online classes later that week or using Tuesday, April 29 — a study day before final exams — to make up those classes.
Although the availability of university technology provides the opportunity to conduct makeup classes online, the option to hold “face to face instruction,” as Pierce called it, is inherently more enticing.
However, taking away one of the three study days scheduled before exams begin is not a fair solution. With Snowpocalypse in 2009, Snowmageddon in 2010 and this year’s Polar Vortex, the trend of heavy snowfall in D.C. is here to stay. Georgetown should prepare for the possibility of snow days by scheduling more study days than needed before final exams in May. This would allow professors and students to make up classes if necessary without jeopardizing preparation for final exams.
Even if these additional study days were to go unused in some years, students would stand only to gain from having additional time to prepare for exams. While the additional study days would extend the academic year by a day or two, such an extension is warranted if the alternatives are missing out on course material or failing to provide enough time for exam preparation.
With increased flexibility, the university would be able to base the decision to cancel classes with a focus on the safety of professors rather than the security of their syllabi.