Days off leave same work load, less time

Professors and students cram in extra work

By Claire Fodell | 1/29/14 9:42pm


GVL / Hannah Mico

A recent law signed by Gov. Rick Snyder requires that public schools in the state of Michigan can cancel up to six full days before that time has to be made up. But the “public school” requirement does not extend to universities.

There are no written rules in Michigan’s state laws or the Grand Valley State University Manual about what needs to be done when there are multiple cancellations of classes due to inclement weather, but professors at GVSU are already shifting around lesson plans to make up for lost time.

Professor Len O’Kelly teaches a Monday night class that has only met once since this semester because of cancellations and the Martin Luther King, Jr. holiday.

“Missing the time is a special sort of problem for a once a week class,” O’Kelly said. “We’ll be heading into February and only having our second meeting.”

So far, O’Kelly hasn’t heard anything from administration about specific procedures for this type of problem. Still, he is working hard to find a way to catch up his Monday class with the scheduled syllabus.

“On the one hand you don’t want to trim the material; if the material wasn’t important, we wouldn’t be discussing it in the first place,” he said. “On the other hand, with a course that leans heavily on discussion and synthesis, you don’t want to ‘rush’ the process. I want to be sure that we have enough time as a class to be able to wrap our heads around the various topics and share ideas.”

O’Kelly said he has already spent time creating a curriculum with topics that his students have enjoyed most in this course in the past. He doesn’t want to cut anything else out if he doesn’t have to. This means that students in his Monday night capstone class may have to do more work on their own time.

“It’s very likely that students will have to do some extra reading outside of class,” he said. “One of the misconceptions of the ‘snow day’ is that we put everything off. I still strive to get the students the same experience that any other group of students taking my class in the fall would receive.”

The only instruction for making up canceled classes at GVSU is when it happens on the day of a final exam.

According to GVSU’s severe weather procedures page in the manual, if there is a closing on the day of a scheduled exam, the exam will be taken on the next available day. For example, if the university is closed on the Tuesday, the exam would be taken on the following Saturday.

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