Weather, flu did not keep students home first day

Despite the flu epidemic, professors reported normal attendance.

Marion Renault

 

While the cold may seem insufferable to University of Minnesota students on their first day back to class, the temperatures still have a long way to drop before school closes.

The process for a school cancellation due to extremely low temperatures is complicated, said Tim Busse, communications director for University Services. This batch of cold weather has not been severe enough to start those conversations, he said, and it’s not always clear when those steps need to be taken.

“There’s no magic number,” he said. “Just like there’s no magic snow depth.”

The last time the University was closed due to extreme cold was in January 1997 when former Gov. Arne Carlson closed all Minnesota public schools after the wind chill dipped to 32 below zero in the Twin Cities.

The wind chill Tuesday morning fell as low as 19 below zero, and it dropped to 27 below zero the night before.

For a closing to happen again, Parking and Transportation Services, Metro Transit, the Minnesota State Patrol, the vice president of University Services, officer of the day and the provost would all need to be involved in the decision.

“We’re not there yet,” Busse said.

Flu doesn’t keep students home

Minnesota may be experiencing a flu epidemic, but that didn’t necessarily keep University students out of the classroom Tuesday.

In an informal poll of instructors by the Minnesota Daily, four out of 36 had any noticeable attendance issues.

Last week, the University suspended its policy requiring first-day class attendance and a doctor’s note after the recent influenza outbreak.

University officials also emailed students Friday urging those who are sick to stay home and notify their professors.

Lecturer Bruce Fall said he was contacted by five members of his 400-student biology class saying they would miss class.

“I think they saw this and just took the U’s advice to heart,” Fall said.

Some students would skip class with or without the policy change, said Alex Jassen, Classical and Near Eastern Studies associate professor.

“People who are not going to be honest will find other ways to cheat the system anyways.”