Gator News

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

By Philip Denman, January 10, 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 forecasts calling for snowfall, Green River is reminding its 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

Safety for students, faculty and staff is the top concern on decisions to close campus. The primary factor will be road conditions, which is based on information from Green River Campus Safety and Facilities crews, who begin their on-campus evaluation as early as 4 a.m. Other factors include future weather predictions by the National Weather Service and local school district decisions.

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 or full-day closure will be announced by 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.

For an early closure, information will be communicated as quickly as possible, with the goal of at least a two-hour advance notice, but if conditions deteriorate faster, campus may close on an accelerated timeline. Employees and students are encouraged to leave campus before the announced closure time if possible. 

How to find out about closures

GRC uses multiple ways to communicate with students and employees through Green River Safety Alerts:

  • 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

In a delayed start, any class that is scheduled to start before the campus is open is cancelled. For example, with a 10 a.m. delayed start, any class that starts prior to 10 a.m. is cancelled 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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