Snow days at BCC

Written by: Tabitha Hanrion
As the Pacific Northwest slowly eases its way into summer, students can look back fondly at the euphoria they experienced when the newscaster announced that school was closed due to snow. For many, a snow day means a day filled with snowball fights, hot chocolate, and sleeping in. However, for BCC students who are parents to school-aged children, the weatherman’s announcement delivers headaches, nervousness, and dread. Parents are left asking themselves, “Great, who’s going to care for my child while I go to school?” BCC’s inclement weather policy appears to be a well-kept secret. The college’s public safety website provides emergency status information, but nowhere on the website does it explain what conditions must be met in order for classes to be canceled. BCC’s murky inclement weather policy has proven time and time again to be a real hardship for students. During one of the more recent snow storms, a vast majority of the local school districts canceled classes for the day. Lake Washington, Bellevue, Snoqualmie Valley, Mercer Island, Issaquah, Skykomish, and Northshore school districts all made their school closure announcements by 6:30 a.m. BCC however chose to keep the college open, not only disregarding the safety of their staff and students, but also adding yet another hardship for students trying to fulfill their academic and family commitments. The BCC website states that the average age of a student attending the school is 31.2 years old. In nearly every class on campus you will find parents working to improve themselves and their families. There is no doubt that most of these students have spent a great deal of time arranging their schedules in such a way that allows them to attend classes while their children are in school. When local schools are closed, parents are forced to make some very difficult decisions. Do they stay home with their children? Do they try to quickly arrange childcare? Many classes at BCC limit the amount of absences a student can have in one quarter. That one day a student stays home to care for their children during a snow day could make a lasting impact on the student’s final grade. Parents are not the only ones who suffer from BCC’s unclear inclement weather policy. The college’s website notes that 63% of their students come from the college’s official service area, which is composed of five east King County school districts: Bellevue, Issaquah, Mercer Island, Skykomish, and Snoqualmie Valley. Running Start students are told by their school district to stay home and not travel on the treacherous roads, but BCC still expects the students to attend classes at the Bellevue campus. A prime example of this occurred during a snowy day in November, 2006. Sammamish High School was closed due to slick roads, however, BCC, located just a few blocks away, was open. BCC must take a hard look at their current inclement weather policy. A sound policy should take into consideration the safety and needs of the students they serve. It just makes sense that if surrounding school districts are closed, BCC should close, too.