College closed for several days during historic snow storm

OCCC was closed 7 times in 2 weeks because of winter weather, which included ice, historically-low temperatures and wind-chill factors as well as nearly a foot of snow.

Also factoring into the closures was the threat of mandated rolling blackouts, which OG&E said could impact its customers several times this week and into the future. 

The blackouts were expected to be last to two hours each time.

The first closure came Feb. 9 when glazing ice covered the trees, walkways and roads on and around campus.

While not as thick as the historic ice storm of October 2020, the ice was enough to cause administrators to send an email announcing a closure which lasted two days.

Members of the OCCC community took to social media and said the new college administration was showing through their actions how much they cared about the safety of employees. 

“OCCC has all commuter students. This makes sense. Way to go guys!” Sam Mckee-Webb, former college student and employee, said.

Ethan Burchett, senior Accounting and Business Lab Assistant, also approved. He said he had a long and dangerous drive to the campus.

Several noted the push for safety was a positive change from choices made by former administrators who often did not close the school even though all other colleges and universities in the metro and surrounding areas did.

“I would rather close and no one gets hurt. When I was there, we had [a lot of] ice and we had school,” former student Tracy Gaines said.

The college closed again Feb. 15-18 when records for cold and snow were smashed in the metro.

At OCCC and surrounding areas snow covered the streets and parking areas, with drifts up to 2 feet.

With already 8 inches on the ground, up to 6 more inches piled atop it Feb.16-17, making traveling even more treacherous. 

More dangerous than the snow, though, was the historic February cold which saw highs hovering near 0 degrees and lows well below -15 degrees. 

While the college was showing its care for students and employees, some faculty who were teaching the few on-campus courses said students were missing a lot of important material by not being able to come to campus for their hands-on courses.

Other faculty said closures due to weather were another reason the forced 8-week class scheduling was opposed by so many educators and proof the push for condensed courses doesn’t work.

“If the college was not virtual this semester, this week is one of the concerns that faculty raised about eight week classes. Because, in one week, you have effectively lost an eight of the course material” retired Mathematics professor Jay Malmstrom told the Pioneer through social media.