UWEC: Closing campus very different than deciding to close K-12 schools

EAU CLAIRE, Wis. (WEAU) -- After several closures on Tuesday, including dozens of schools, businesses and nonprofit organizations, people in the community have been wondering why the University of Wisconsin- Eau Claire didn’t close their doors this morning, despite significant snowfall.

Mike Rindo with UW-Eau Claire says the decision to close the campus due to the weather is a decision that is based on several factors.

Rindo told WEAU 13 News that there are fundamental differences in K-12 schools and UWEC that play into the decision.

Rindo says 40 percent of the students live on campus and another significant percentage of students live close enough to campus that they can walk or take a city bus to campus. Rindo also says, unlike the majority of K-12 schools, UWEC doesn’t schedule snow days into their calendar and they cannot extend their calendar due to graduation. Rindo says that has been the case for several years.

Rindo also says the university is sensitive to the fact that students are paying for instruction.

UW-Eau Claire says that if students, faculty and staff are concerned about their safety or health because of inclement weather, they are encouraged to contact their professor or supervisor to make alternate arrangements or excused absences.

Rindo says other criteria include but are not limited to: “Does the weather pose a serious/immediate danger to health and safety; are campus sidewalks, roads and parking lots sufficiently cleared of snow and ice to allow for normal operations; are primary city streets leading to campus sufficiently cleared of snow and ice to allow safe travel; is the city transit system operating buses to and from off-campus student residential areas; when is the anticipated beginning or end of the inclement weather event?”

UW-Eau Claire Barron County did close Tuesday because they are a largely commuter school and its rural location makes access to the school more difficult in inclement weather, according to Rindo.