Decision to close GTA colleges and universities all over the map

The massive late winter snowstorm that howled through Southern Ontario Mar. 12 left college and university administrators  to decide when and if to close the doors of their schools — decisions that affect the safety of hundreds of thousands of students and staff.

And considering that the storm was widely predicted to be huge and left virtually no part of the GTA unscathed, the decisions had a decided lack of consistency — some closed as early as 11:30 a.m.,  some by 1 or 2 p.m and some not at all.

While this may be in part because each institution has its own set of conditions to consider, it could also be because decison-makers are pretty much left on their own to make the call.

The JNM Journal discovered the Ministry of Colleges and Universities  had no simple answer to the question — does MTC provide guidelines or policies to help colleges and universities decide when to close their doors?

By 5 p.m. Mar. 13, repeated calls to the Ministry either went unreturned or did not result in any definitive answers.

Meanwhile, at Sheridan College administration did not officially cancel classes until 1 p.m. , several hours after the storm had hit with a vengeance.

This left staff and students who had battled their way to the college wondering why the decision came so late.

Steven Parfeniuk, Sheridan’s Vice President of Finance and Administration, said Sheridan does have a local policy to govern the decision about snow days.

1. Is there a policy to guide the college on cancelling classes during severe weather?


2. What is the policy for teachers and staff for cancelling classes?


3. Is there a penalty for teachers making his or her own decision on cancelling classes?


4. Does Sheridan lose any funding if classes are cancelled before 1 pm? Are there any financial implications when the school closes?

While Parfeniuk says there is a policy in place, the specifics remain unclear and few people seem to know what it says.
The Sheridan professors contacted by JNM Journal were unaware of any policy and didn’t know for sure they have the autonomy to cancel individual classes even if the college has not announced a closure.

Kathy Muldoon is the print journalism professor in charge of the Sheridan Sun newspaper. She sat down with us to share her experience on class cancellations.

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