Coe Cancels Classes Amid Polar Vortex Emergency

Coe College joined several other schools in the District on Wednesday, January 30 when it officially cancelled classes because of weather conditions. Cedar Rapids was just one of the cities swept by a deadly polar vortex this week, that brought Arctic temperatures, as low as minus 22 degrees, on the Midwest. As Wednesday saw record-breaking temperatures, Coe decided to put the students’ safety first and cancel classes from Tuesday, January 29 at 4:30 pm to Thursday, January 31 at 12 pm.
“It’s always tricky to predict weather several days out, so we waited to act until we knew it was going to hit Cedar Rapids and be as bad as predicted,” said Provost Paula O’Laughlin. “Once the severity of the Polar Vortex hitting Cedar Rapids was clear, it was equally clear that we would not be able to ensure everyone’s safety with regular daily operations.”

Temperatures at Coe College reached -30 °F (-35 °C). Photo by Claudia Chiappa

Weather conditions sparked alarm all over the country, as several news outlets report life-threatening temperatures. School officials were invited to stay home as the library, the mailroom, the print center, health services, and most offices closed. Only the dining services made sure to remain open to guarantee breakfast, lunch, and dinner to all residents. By Wednesday night, the weather had forced the cancellation of thousands of flights nationwide about 8 deaths were reported in the area hit by the cold air, including an 18-year-old student at University of Iowa. Campus Security and Health Services encouraged students to stay indoors, to wear warm clothes, and to be on the lookout for any symptoms of hypothermia or frostbite. Meanwhile, buildings around campus suffered from frozen water pipes and other cold related-incidents.Coe’s choice to cancel classes arrives despite Coe’s rigid policy regarding closure during inclement weather. The gravity of the polar vortex and the consequences of these low temperatures, however, did not leave school officials any other chance.
No one should be outside walking to classes etc., in this weather even for a couple of minutes,” said O’Laughlin. “No one likes to cancel classes, but no one wants anything bad to happen to members of our community. Everyone in the Coe community’s health and well-being are way too important to put at risk in this weather.”

Article by Claudia Chiappa

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