As the snow banks grew and temperatures dropped, students slept in the warmth of their dorms houses while members of the on-campus grounds team worked through the evening to clear snow-covered paths last Sunday night. The evening’s blizzard deposited over a foot of snow that had accumulated on the paths within a few hours.
First and second period were cancelled by the PA Storm Team due to safety concerns posed by the heavy snowfall. Boarders were given the late start, while day students and some faculty received more time to get onto campus.
“This particular storm, the timing of it, where it was so much snow expected overnight, and heavy snow because the temperature was high enough that [the snow] was going to be really heavy to move, the concern mostly was that our grounds team that was working all night would not have the paths cleared in time and the buildings cleared in time for 8:00 a.m.,” said Patricia Russell, Dean of Studies and Instructor in Biology and member of the PA Storm Team.
Led by Christopher Joel, Director of Business Services, the members of the PA Storm Team communicate with each other and the school to facilitate the clearing of snow on campus. Composed by a mix of faculty and administrators, the PA Storm Team coordinates with the Office of Physical Plant (OPP) and Phillips Academy Public Safety (PAPS) to ensure the safety of the community.
“There’s a group of us who discuss… how we’re going to proceed with calling people and [helping] people going home… PAPS, Public Safety, is here 24/7, even in the worst of weather. So here, we’re essential personnel. So we have to be here, much like the police department [has] to be down there. We’re not sworn officers, but we have a sense of duty and obligation to the school and the school community,” said Thomas Conlon, Director of Public Safety.
Despite the historically difficult winter weather in New England, Andover has had very few snow days in the past. The most notable were during the Ice Storm of 1921, the Blizzard of 1978, and the record-breaking snowfall in 2015. According to the Andover Newsroom, the winter of 2015 topped the record of the Blizzard of 1978 with 50 inches of snow over the course of two weeks.
“It’s just the weather is unpredictable, but the nice thing here is that with all the people who are living here, as well as an incredible grounds team, things get cleaned up really fast. It’s really dependent on the student shoveling — that makes a huge difference for safety and that’s the thing that we’re worried about most, is keeping students safe. So between the grounds team and all the students and faculty who live here shoveling, we get things cleaned up pretty quickly,” said Russell.
Besides the increase in snow-shoveling, the recent snow on campus has caused difficulties among the day students at Andover. A common sentiment among days students is that their commute to campus has become more treacherous. Last week, with the sudden snow storm and dangerous roads, some day students missed school, while others were accommodated in dorms to sleep overnight.
“As a day student, snow makes it very difficult to get to school, especially when [Andover] is so reluctant to give us a snow day. Even with delays and stuff it can make it really difficult because I usually have to plan out whether I’m going to stay on campus for the night or something,” said Sarika Rao ’19.