Heavy snowfall shuts down EWU campuses for two days

Due to concerns over student safety and snow removal challenges, EWU canceled classes and operations at its Cheney and Spokane campuses on Monday and Tuesday this week


Richard N. Clark IV

A man walks through EWU’s campus during the second of two snow days. Eastern Washington has been facing above average snowfall this month in 2019.

By Dylan Harris, News Editor

Snowstorms and frigid temperatures have taken hold of Cheney over the past week, forcing EWU administrators to cancel classes and shut down campus for two days.

EWU rarely cancels classes due to weather, according to the statement on its emergency closures webpage, but snow removal challenges and safety concerns ultimately led school officials to close the school on Monday, Feb. 11 and Tuesday, Feb. 12.

The school sent out email alerts at around 5:30 a.m. on Monday notifying students that classes and operations would be delayed until 10 a.m. The school then sent out another email alert around 9 a.m. stating that classes were canceled for the day due to snow removal challenges.

“Most of the local schools decided on a two-hour late opening since the roads looked like they’d be cleared by then, and our crews thought they could clear walkways and lots before 10 (a.m.),” President Mary Cullinan said in an email to The Easterner. “We found the situation more difficult than we’d thought—and we were afraid that students and others would be in danger. So, we decided to close.”

At about 5:15 a.m. on Tuesday, EWU sent out an email alert notifying students that campus would be closed all day due to the weather.

“The roads were not safe, and so the decision to close in order to help keep students and others safe was relatively easy,” Cullinan said.

EWU officials consult with Washington State Patrol, EWU police, Spokane Transit Authority and the National Weather Service before deciding whether or not to cancel classes and close the campus, according to the EWU emergency closures webpage. They also consult with EWU faculty members to determine the safety and accessibility of sidewalks and parking lots on campus.

Cullinan said that with over 300 acres and numerous walkways and parking lots, EWU faces substantial challenges regarding snow removal.

“Of course, we would have preferred to let people know the decision earlier,” Cullinan said. “The situation was frustrating on all fronts, but keeping students safe is our first priority.”

Information on school closures can be found at ewu.edu/emergency. Students can also sign up to receive EWU Alerts on their cell phones and through their emails.