By Diamond Victoria
When local media announces a chance of sleet, snow, ice or freezing temperatures for North Texas, some Brookhaven College students immediately take to social media to see whether the campus will be closed for a snow day. Seven campuses make up the Dallas County Community College District, and when one closes its doors due to inclement weather, they all do.
Inclement weather is a seasonal concern for college and other school districts alike, and when deciding whether or not to close, the presidents of the district’s colleges must assess the consequences of the choice.
The decision to close for inclement weather starts with an early morning conference call involving Thom Chesney, Brookhaven president; the presidents of the other six colleges in the district; Justin Lonon, the chief officer of the R. Jan LeCroy Center for Educational Telecommunications; and the vice chancellor of public and governmental relations, according to DCCCD’s safety program emergency plans.
“I feel like they should alert the students earlier,” Mariela Tinoco, a student, said. “They should [send] a text message because many students don’t have social media, or they’re not on it to check and see if the school is closed.”
Chesney said everyone involved keeps a close eye on the weather as part of their daily responsibilities. Yet every year, prior to the first weather event of the fall, a reminder is sent to administrators to be prepared for severe weather.
“When considering inclement weather closures, the safety of students and employees is the priority,” Chesney said. “Because a third or more of our students take courses at more than one DCCCD college, we make a system-wide decision so that everyone is equally impacted and informed.”
To support continuity of instruction, faculty members adjust their assignments and teaching schedules and utilize distance education resources such as eCampus during these interruptions. Chesney also said online classes are not typically affected by weather.
“One of the things with weather is that we’re consistent across the board for ice or snow, typical events that shut us down,” Chesney said in a 2015 interview with The Courier. “If at Cedar Valley and Mountain View, the roads are dry and it’s a crisp 33 degrees, but Richland and Brookhaven and North Lake are getting sleet, and ice is accumulating, and it’s 29 [degrees], we don’t say, ‘Mountain View and Cedar Valley are going to stay open.’”
The administrators always err on the side of safety, Chesney said. Yet in the event Brookhaven is affected by icy weather and the district opts to remain open, he said, the campus is prepared to maintain student safety.
“We have people on this campus 24/7, from police to facilities,” Chesney said. “So I can call someone at 2 a.m. or I can text them at 10 p.m. and say: ‘At 2 a.m., what I want from you are parking lots and sidewalks conditioned.’”
Students can check the Brookhaven website for information regarding school closings or delays. The official DCCCD and Brookhaven social media profiles will also be updated in the event of a closing.