Superstorm Sandy Forces Hundreds of Colleges to Close

Superstorm Sandy Forces Hundreds of Colleges to Close
  • Opening Intro -

    First came the warnings and second came the closures.

    As in weather-related closings for colleges and universities across the mid-Atlantic.

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The number of schools affected cannot be precisely determined at this point, but it certainly numbers in the hundreds with perhaps millions of college students and faculty involved.

Storm Impact

Hurricane Sandy became Superstorm Sandy as it slammed ashore on Monday near Atlantic City, N.J., bringing winds of up to 90 mph with it and wreaking destruction hundreds of miles away from its center. Power outages were widespread across New Jersey with Pennsylvania, New York, Connecticut and Massachusetts also experiencing blackouts affecting hundreds of thousands of homes and businesses.

Public elementary and secondary school closures have been numerous, but are easier to reschedule as snow days and vacations replace missed time off. For colleges operating on semester schedules, administrators will need to push closer to Christmas to get the required class hours finished. Some colleges may be faced with finishing the fall semester in early Jan., although no school seems to have made that determination.

Canceled Classes

In New Jersey, Rutgers University reported that its New Brunswick and Newark campuses were hardest hit and would not reopen until Monday, Nov. 5. Its Camden campus was scheduled to reopen today. Rutgers’ fall semester ends on Dec. 21. Ramapo College, William Paterson University, Montclair State University also announced that classes were canceled, with WPU waiting for PSE&G feedback on power before deciding whether Friday’s classes will be canceled too. WPU is expected to make an announcement sometime today about Friday’s classes.

Some schools were closed on Monday and Tuesday, but were able to reopen on Wednesday with generators providing needed backup. SUNY Cobleskill has 1,300 students living on its campus, with emergency power enabling lights and plumbing to function. To conserve energy, the school consolidated dining to one facility, until power is fully restored.

Slopes Open

Further west, some colleges closed as heavy snow moved into the area. Davis & Elkins College in Elkins, W.V. suspended classes on Monday and then for the rest of the week as 18 inches of heavy, wet snow knocked out power. An emergency generator at its Madden Student Center was activated, to provide light, heat and hot food for all students on its campus. The college is located 75 minutes north of Showshoe Mountain Resort, the Mountaineer State’s largest ski resort. More than two feet of snow fell at Snowshoe, with its slopes open for early season enthusiasts.

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