Winter Delays for Bluefield College By Jacqueline Puglisi | January 17, 2011 | RSS Students were granted an easy transition into their spring semester of classes the first week of school as snow cascaded heavily on the mountain campus of Bluefield College. After a three-week break from school, both commuter and resident students returned for their first day of classes with a two-hour delay on Jan. 12. As snow continued to cover the campus, the call was made Jan. 13 to cancel all classes and close administrative buildings for the day. Students returned to their normal schedule Jan 14 before a three-day weekend around the corner. The school was closed Jan. 17 for Martin Luther King Jr. Day. Decisions to delay or cancel classes due to inclement weather are made by 5:45 a.m. by the Director of Maintenance, Blair Taylor, and the Vice President for Academic Affairs, Robert Shippey. They carefully assess road conditions, keeping in mind the commuters and teachers who will need to travel to the college. The Director of Public Relations, Chris Shoemaker, then sends e-mails to faculty, staff and students to notify them of any changes in the schedule, as well as posts the information on the school website. Most students spent their extra time sleeping in and gathering with friends to play games and watch movies in the Student Activity Center. The overall attitude seemed to be upbeat as the students had fun spending time together. However, there were a variety of opinions on how the delay would affect the beginning of the school semester. Alli Spraker, a resident Bluefield College student, was happy to be able to spend some extra time with friends before diving into her studies. “I think it’s a good way to get socialization out of the way so I can put more focus on my homework later and not miss spending time with my friends,” Spraker said. Commuter student Thomas Estep was thankful for the delay on Jan 12.“ I thought it was a relief and enjoyed the extra sleep,” he said. He added that he didn’t mind coming in to school, even though some of the roads were still in bad condition. On the other hand, some thought the delays would cause a lull in studies and productivity for the beginning of the semester. “I think it’s going to put a damper on the attitude toward schoolwork so that we may get lazy and not start out the semester focused on our work,” Sasha Dove, a resident student at the college, said. He has a fear that if students are lax in the amount of studying done early in the semester, it will have a negative impact on the semester as a whole. Also, some of the students have been concerned about being able to get to class safely. The resident students are especially concerned about walking the icy sidewalks. “The school should have been closed Wednesday because a friend of mine fell on the ice on the sidewalk,” said Carrie Smith. Natasha Wood agreed. “I think on days that [the weather] is supposed to get worse later in the day, they should just close instead of having a delay,” she said. “They made a very smart decision by closing on Thursday.” Faculty and staff have also been affected by the changes in the schedule in different ways. Jenny Phillips, the Food Service Director for the college, said the biggest challenge the cafeteria faces is being able to serve the students at the standard times for each meal since those times cannot be altered. She wants to be able to serve all three meals to the students, but when the schedule changes she is worried students may get slighted and not be able to have a meal due to the change in class times. She also commended the maintenance team on the job they do. “Maintenance works very hard, sometimes coming in as early as 4 a.m.,” Phillips said. Dr. Tracey Stout, Associate Professor of Christian Studies, admitted that the delays and cancelations were a bit of a hassle, but added that he was thankful to have the college’s MyBC website where students could access their syllabus for the classes they missed. Some commuter students were not able to attend some of Dr. Stout’s classes due to weather and travel conditions. With more winter weather likely to fall on Bluefield in the following weeks it is hard to predict if the school schedule will soon be altered again. Commuter students, faculty and resident students will continue to follow possible updates each day on the college’s website and e-mail. Some will hope for a delay while others simply want to make it to campus safely. Overall, the school schedule will continue to shift as more snow covers the ground of the campus, until the warming temperatures of spring melt away winter’s ice and snow.