Snow Day Brings Celebration, Scheduling Problems


Snow Day

Yesterday afternoon Dean of Students Ellen Cosgrove emailed the Harvard Law student body to tell them that classes would be canceled due to the forecasted blizzard on Wednesday, Jan. 12. Facebook, chat statuses, and apartments erupted with excitement over the rare treat at Harvard Law School: a snow day.

Faculty who have been at the Law School for some time say this may be only the third closing for inclement weather in more than 30 years. According to Cosgrove, five years ago Cambridge saw over two feet of snow, but Winter Quarter exams were still held as scheduled. Just last year, Cosgrove emailed students to let them know that “each year a few hopeful students inquire about snow days – the answer is that Harvard remains open in snow – always has – sorry about that.”

This year, though, presented several new problems, according to Cosgrove. With the storm predicted to start overnight, commuters would have more trouble in the morning compared to previous storms that stared at noon, which could be addressed with small adjustments to keep the day’s schedule on track.

“It was a relatively unique combination of intensity and timing,” Cosgrove told the Record via email. “I also think that the state and local governments have put increasing pressure on businesses and schools to close in order to keep people off the roads, which allows the emergency crews to do their jobs. This is a real change in culture in the last few years.”

Unfortunately, the combination of an already compressed January term and the unexpected closure presents a relatively unique scheduling problem. Because of the ABA’s regulations governing class time, professors will need to reschedule their missed classes. That make-up time may bleed into the upcoming holiday or the day previously reserved for students to study for exams.

“It will depend on the class,” Cosgrove told the Record. “We need to make up work in a condensed time frame. Some faculty might schedule a make-up over the holiday, others might schedule on the reading day. Neither option is ideal but it is also hard to schedule exams on the weekend and conflict with religious observance.” 

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