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Major snowstorm on first day of classes causes campus closure

Mark Dodici / The Daily Princetonian
Mark Dodici / The Daily Princetonian

The University’s few hybrid courses were unable to meet in person today as a major nor’easter impacted the region.

Following heavy snowfall, the University announced at 4:37 p.m. on Jan. 31 that campus would be closed for non-essential staff starting at 7 p.m. and lasting until at least 5 p.m. Monday. After continuous snowfall and a Winter Storm Warning from the National Weather Service, the closure has now been extended to at least 8 a.m. on Tuesday.

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While dining halls did open for Monday lunch and dinner, the University’s libraries, athletic facilities, and many study spaces were closed. Along with these closures, Tiger Transit service ended at 5 p.m. Sunday and will not begin until at earliest 8 a.m. on Tuesday.

Outdoor dining tents set up near Wu Hall, Frist Campus Center, and Blair Hall to facilitate social distancing were also closed due to the inclement weather. Dining halls remained open. Students still in arrival quarantine, unable to access dining halls, were assigned specific meal pickup locations via emails from University Health Services.

COVID-19 testing operated on a normal schedule despite the storm, and students living on campus and assigned to the Monday/Wednesday testing schedule were expected to drop their samples off by the standard time of 10 a.m., though kit distribution locations are closed. Students living locally off-campus, or who could not drop off a sample safely due to the weather, were instructed to drop off their next testing sample when campus reopens.

A sizable majority of courses offered this semester are being conducted virtually, and were therefore unaffected by the closures. For the few courses containing in-person elements or offered in a hybrid model, however, all classes will be held virtually through at least 9 a.m. on Tuesday due to the weather.

Dr. Aaron Shkuda, Project Manager of the Princeton-Mellon Initiative in Architecture, Urbanism, and the Humanities, expressed support for the decision. His course, ARC 303/URB 303/EGR 303: Wall Street and Silicon Valley: Place in the American Economy, was scheduled to take place in-person on Monday afternoon but had to meet virtually due to the closure.

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“Given all that's happened over the last 10 months, it seems almost fitting that our first in-person seminar would be delayed by our biggest snowstorm in years,” he wrote in an email to the ‘Prince.’

“But this is clearly the safe thing to do, and I look forward to meeting many of my students in the classroom next week,” he added.

Brian Li ’24, a student enrolled in a hybrid freshman seminar taught by University President Christopher Eisgruber ’83, similarly told the ‘Prince’ that he understood the decision.

“It’s just not the type of weather you would want to encourage people to be out in,” he said.

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“Going along with that point, I do feel for and appreciate the staff members who have been working very hard in the snow through yesterday evening,” Li added.

Along with the cancellation of in-person classes, students were also affected by the closure of athletic facilities. Prior to the storm, gyms were slated to open by appointment beginning on Feb. 1, allowing some student-athletes to exercise in a campus facility for the first time.

Billy Doyle ’24, a first-year student on the track and field team, expressed some disappointment.

“It was a bit of a shame to be honest,” he said. “It was marked as the day where me and a few other freshman guys could finally begin as Princeton athletes.”

“Then again, we’ve waited this long already, so another couple days isn’t that big a deal in the grand scheme of things,” Doyle added.

Another update on the closures is expected to follow by 7 a.m. Tuesday morning according to the latest TigerAlert.

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