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What does it take to get a snow day at Ryerson?

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By Hayley Hanks

It’s been more than four years since Ryerson had a snow day.

The university was closed on Feb. 8, 2013 when it snowed more than 30 cm. Since then, Ryerson has remained open during major snowfalls.

“It really has to be an all day long snow event that is fairly significant. It would have to be something that the staff can’t keep up with,” said Dan Batko, a supervisor of custodial services at Ryerson who works with groundskeeping on snow removal. In his past 12 years at Ryerson, Batko can remember only two snow days.

The school’s groundskeeping team has seven members. According to Batko, when a snowstorm hits, the team clears the stairs, paths, sidewalks and ramps in cycles on campus throughout the day. When the university is closed, the rest of Ryerson’s staff usually stays home.

“From a custodial standpoint, it can be a little tricky because there’s still a lot of things going on inside the school. Just because they declare it a snow day doesn’t mean that people leave,” Batko said.

When there’s a major snowfall, groundskeepers arrive on campus anytime between midnight to 4 a.m. to begin clearing the snow before the arrival of staff and students.

Anoojan Sriharan, a fourth-year chemical engineering student, commuted from Markham to Ryerson for three years. In order to be on time for an 8 a.m. class, Sriharan would have to leave home by 6 a.m., which is usually the time when Ryerson notifies students about closures.

Sriharan said “it’s a gamble” when leaving for school on snow days because he doesn’t know what Ryerson’s decision will be. Sometimes, snowstorms made Sriharan’s commute up to three hours each way.

Snowdays are decided by Ryerson’s office of the Vice President, Administration and Finance, according to the University’s Administrative Policies. They consider information from Environment Canada, transportation services like the TTC and Metrolinx and police and fire services.

The office then communicates the closure to different departments before 6 a.m. After that, the Assistant Vice President, Communications, Government & Community Engagement office communicates to students, staff and faculty that Ryerson is closed.

“The decision on whether to close the school is based on a number of factors, including student safety, availability of transportation and whether other schools are closing,” wrote Lauren Clegg, a media relations spokesperson at Ryerson, in an email response.

Second year computer science student Akaash Moorshed said he commuted from Brampton to  Ryerson during the winter months before moving downtown this school year.

“It’s not even your fault at all that you’re late. You show up on time for everything and you don’t have control over [the weather].”

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