When is it Too Cold for Class?

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MISHAWAKA—From 5 p.m. on Tuesday, Jan. 29 until 5 a.m. on Friday, Feb. 1, Bethel was closed due to the extreme temperatures that shattered records across the region. 

But just how extreme do the conditions need to be for Bethel to close? 

“It’s subject to change, but somewhere between negative 25 and negative 30,” said Dr. Barbara Bellefeuille, vice president of academic services. “Negative 25 would perk my ears, and I’m talking about windchill, that would say, ‘Okay, we’d better start thinking about this.’” 

Bellefeuille said that snow events are much more difficult to plan for. 

“A snow event... hardly ever happens the way it’s predicted, unlike temperature,” said Bellefeuille. “It always depends on when it starts falling... sometimes they’ll say, ‘coming at 3 in the morning,’ and then you wake up and there’s nothing out there.” 

Bellefeuille said that she always discusses major snow events with security, maintenance and the vice president for business services, and while the conversation normally starts days in advance, often it’s difficult to make the call until the last minute. 

“I’ll be looking for a text as early as 5 [a.m.],” said Bellefeuille. “By the latest 6 o’clock we want to make the call... there are more things than you can imagine that play into this.” 

Bellefeuille said that some of the things they take into consideration are road conditions, campus conditions, scheduled events and safety in general. 

Director of Campus Safety Paul Neel said that while keeping everyone safe is their main priority, they also understand that it can be difficult to make up missed classes. 

“We want to keep classes going if at all possible... but we want everybody to be safe,” said Neel. 

Neel also said that students should pay attention to the alerts sent out by Campus Safety. 

“One of the big things we often find though is that students will not check their Bethel mail,” said Neel. “Well, everything goes to your Bethel account... so that’s probably a big thing, check there, because sometimes we’ll get a longer message in the email... than in a short text message.” 

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