Polar vortex takes a toll on ECC professors


Victoria Crowe

Many professors had to completely readjust their schedules and print revised ones for their students.

Victoria Crowe, Staff Writer

The polar vortex that swept through the Midwest a couple weeks ago has thrown many schools in the area into a whirlwind, including professors at Elgin Community College.

Various ECC professors, especially those who teach Monday/Wednesday classes, are now having to rewrite their class schedules in order to get their students back on track due to the school cancellations.  Since there were quite a few days that were missed, this raises the question of what would happen if we had to miss any more days of school due to the weather.

Vice President of Teaching, Learning, and Student Development Peggy Heinrich mentioned that she has never experienced anything like this.

“I can say that I have been here over 12 years and have never experienced so many weather-related closings,”Heinrich said. “For these very reasons, our academic calendar is designed to include a sufficient number of days to allow for a number of unanticipated closures, while remaining compliant with Illinois Community College Board (ICCB) regulations.  We did contact the ICCB to ensure we remain in compliance, and they confirmed that we are still offering a sufficient number of class meeting days.”

She shed some light on the issue of further school closings, which many students and staff have been wondering about, and also explained how they go about deciding if school gets canceled.

“At some point, should additional weather closures occur, we will need to address the issue of class make-up sessions, but we believe we still have a small buffer remaining,” Heinrich said. “We consider each weather event on a case-by-case basis and follow our administrative procedure relative to emergency closings. We consider a number of factors, but out greatest concern is to ensure the safety of our students and employees.”

It has obviously impacted professors as well, as they have had to cut assignments, important presentations and push back tests, which sets classes back even further.  Business professor, Kim Walker, shared her concerns about the cancellations.

“I have been an adjunct at ECC for 15 years and, while we have had an occasional snow day, I have never experienced school closings like we had a couple weeks ago,”  Walker said. “My course schedule is still running behind in some of my classes, and I will consolidate material in the next few weeks to catch up.”

She also mentioned the negative impact it has had on her classes.

“In my management class, we have already eliminated a homework presentation day, which is what I found most frustrating,” Walker said. “Learning and practicing communication skills is critical to that course, and we have now missed an opportunity to do that. I always want students to get the most out of their commitment of time and tuition dollars while here, and not being in class makes that a challenge.  In the end, I’m confident we will make this a rewarding semester.”

Humanities professor, Dave Zacker, also had to push back tests in a couple of his classes and, like other staff here, has never seen school cancellations like this one.

“This is the most we’ve had since I’ve been here,” Zacker said.  “The most frustrating thing about it was having to adjust due dates for all of the online homework.”

Zacker added that he has some room in some of his classes to take things out or brush over them quickly, but many of the topics in his classes are necessary and need to be taught in order for students to be successful.