Winter weather stops classes


Photo courtesy of Tim Tumelty

AACC temporarily closed all of its campuses after the first snowfall of the season.

Zack Buster, Associate Editor

Before the semester even began, the college closed three times in January for snow days.

Each time, the college closed its gates, revved up its snowplows and canceled in-person classes.

“Our one and only goal is to make sure campus is as safe as possible for [students],” Maurice Chaput, the executive director of administrative services, said. “They’re our customers. If it wasn’t for them, we wouldn’t have a job.”

On Jan. 3, a storm dumped more than eight inches of snow on the 260-acre Arnold campus, which already was mostly closed for the week as a precaution against COVID-19.

The next day was a snow day as well. Crews continued to clear the parking lots and roads. Three days later, another storm left the campus closed again.

Whenever the college closes because of snow, the college follows the same process, according to Chaput.
First, Chaput and his team monitor weather reports for Anne Arundel County. By approximately 4:30 a.m., college officials make the call about whether to cancel face-to-face classes and on-campus work for the day.

The officials base their decision on how much snow falls on the Arnold campus’s parking lots and roads, Chaput said.

Once the snow stops, Chaput said, his department prepares the college’s snowplows to start clearing parking lots and roads.

“We won’t bring anyone on campus until we [clear] all the snow,” Chaput said. “We don’t start clearing snow until the snow stops, and with a snowstorm like we just had, eight or nine inches, that’d be done tomorrow. It takes two full days to clear the campus.”

Chaput said the campus is ready by Dec. 1 every year to put its fleet of snowplows into action.

Second-year creative writing and literature student D’Angelo Williams said the snow days interrupted his winter-session journalism class, which had been scheduled for in-person meetings from Jan. 3 to 14.
The class wound up meeting on Zoom four of the five days of the first week, Williams said, adding, “I do tend to feel a little bit more unproductive on Zoom rather than I do in person.”

School policy requires online classes to continue on snow days and allows in-person classes to continue virtually.

Williams’face-to-face class wound up occurring partly on Zoom and partly in the classroom.

“I feel like winter weather makes me feel less motivated,” Williams said. “If it were nice outside, I’d be more inclined to get my work done and then go and enjoy it.”