Gator News

Winter is Coming - How and When GRC Closes for Winter Weather

By Philip Denman, November 16, 2020

Exterior of Green River College's Technology Center building during the morning after a snowfall in 2017.
Green River College Technology Center and pathways after a snowfall in 2017.

With the winter weather season approaching, Green River is reminding the campus community about how a winter closure is decided, when those decisions are typically made, and the communication channels that are used to relay information.

How a decision is made

The safety of our students, faculty and staff is our top concern when deciding whether to cancel classes or suspend operations. Usually, road conditions serve as the primary factor in making the decision; however, in our current instructional and work-from-home modalities, power outages and internet disruptions pose the largest risks for interruption of instruction and service delivery to students.

In the event of adverse weather impacting driving conditions, GRC will strive to maintain all virtual instruction and student support services, though approved CTE/CE classes operating on campus may be asked to cancel or move to a remote modality. Individuals experiencing localized power or internet outages should immediately contact their instructor or supervisor to discuss their options and to ensure coverage of any essential tasks. Should there be a large-scale event that causes mass disruption throughout GRC’s service area, the College may decide to cancel all classes and suspend operations.

When a decision is made

The GRC Emergency Operations Center (EOC) starts monitoring incoming storms as they are forecasted and begins to evaluate potential impacts 24-48 hours in advance. Prior to a predicted weather event, the EOC will often meet to evaluate any potential closures. Facilities and Campus Safety will meet on current conditions and consult National Weather Service data for future conditions before providing the EOC a recommendation.

Information about a delayed start, class cancelations or full-day closure will be announced as early as possible on the impacted day. GRC will typically not announce a closure or delay the night before, but it will if there is consensus on forecasts and road conditions. This allows GRC and city crews an opportunity to clear roads, parking lots and sidewalks during the night. 

How to find out about closures

GRC issues Green River Safety Alerts to students and employees in a variety of ways:

  • Text messages – Sign Up for Green River Safety Alerts and keep informed of campus emergencies, safety issues and inclement weather emergency closures. Make sure your number is registered and/or up-to-date to receive emergency communications. Subscriptions require renewal each year.
  • Email – All students and employees are registered to receive emergency communications to their Green River email accounts.
  • Website – Weather impacts are posted to the main page, My Green River dashboard and at FlashAlerts.
  • Social media – Green River Safety Alerts are posted to the College's Facebook and Twitter pages.
  • Traditional media – During weather events, traditional broadcast and print media rely on FlashAlerts for updated information on closures, and will also share that information.
  • Phone – During a significant weather event, GRC Telecommunications will keep the primary switchboard updated. People can call 253-833-9111 to learn if the campus is open, on a modified schedule or closed.

What to do during a delayed start or early close

While the majority of GRC courses are being conducted remotely, a limited number of CTE/CE programs have been approved by Washington State's Campus Reopening Guide to operate in GRC facilities. For those classes taught on campus, the following procedures still apply.

In a delayed start, any class that is scheduled to start before the campus is open is canceled. For example, with a 10 a.m. delayed start, any class that starts prior to 10 a.m. is canceled for the day. A delayed start also provides essential staff an opportunity to clear campus roads and sidewalks before the College officially opens. Early arrivals on campus may delay that process as critical needs are being addressed.

In an early close, class is permitted to go until the close time. When the campus is closed, buildings are locked and secured, and only essential staff remain on campus for critical service delivery. Additional cars in parking lots add time for crews to plow snow.

Weather can vary widely throughout Green River's service area. The decision to drive to campus is always at the discretion of the driver. For students, communicate as soon as you can with your faculty that you aren’t able to attend class that day and how to make other arrangements. For employees, communicate with your supervisor to coordinate if you can work from home, call in for meetings or take vacation.

Storms often cause traffic delays and increased congestion on the primary roads, especially the ones that surround campus. Traffic delays should be anticipated and drivers should provide additional time to reach campus during winter weather conditions.

If you encounter an icy area that needs attention, please inform Green River Campus Safety by calling 253-288-3350 or dialing 3350 from any campus phone (for emergencies, always call 911).

Snow days on campus are not a common occurrence, but it helps to be prepared. Dress warmly in layers, use caution, take your time, and be sure to take a moment to enjoy the season and the beautiful scenery on campus! Share your photos of the campus in the snow, or any time of year, by using #GreenRiverCollege and #WeAreGators!

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