Why HSU Cancels Classes During Power Shutdowns

Some students have asked why Humboldt State University cancels classes during a power shutdown. There are a number of reasons, including the following:

Safety on campus during a power shutdown. Many buildings and their interior spaces (classrooms, hallways, restrooms) receive limited outside lighting through windows. Lights on streets and walkways will not be on. Elevators may not work. Locking systems may not operate as expected. Fire alarm systems can fail after battery back-up reserves have expired, making the buildings unsafe to occupy.

Technology will be inoperative during a power shutdown. Many classes at HSU are conducted with the support of computer technology, internet resources and CANVAS (Learning Management System). During a power shutdown, all classroom computers and video projectors, as well as  scientific equipment used in laboratory classes, will be inoperative.

Safety of students and employees in the community. During a power shutdown, traffic lights often do not work, making it more dangerous to drive. At the same time, many employees have children who are staying home from school or other family members they may need to take care of. HSU can help the entire community by allowing most employees to stay at home during a shutdown. 

Safety in the hours following the end of a power shutdown. It takes a great deal of time to safely re-open the campus, including powering down and disconnecting generators, resetting locks, and ensuring fire suppression systems are working. This is especially true because it can take a number of hours for most staff members to return to work once power is restored. The priority is to ensure residence halls, food service, health services, and other student services are up and running first. Then classes and labs are opened.

Allow a focus on personal safety and well-being. Canceling classes allows students to prioritize taking care of themselves and staying in touch with family and friends. It is difficult for students to focus on learning when their power is out and they are concerned about those in fire-prone parts of the state.

Challenge of maintaining usual services. Staff from a variety of areas - information technology to financial services - are busy with unusual and unexpected tasks during a power shutdown. They would not be able to ensure the usual level of functioning services that would be expected during regular operations.

Reduce the number of faculty and staff required on campus. With classes cancelled, most HSU employees can stay home. Many have children or other family members who need extra care and attention during a power shutdown. Those employees remaining on campus can focus on specific needs related to a shutdown such as ensuring student safety,  powering certain facilities, securing buildings, canceling or rescheduling activities, communications, interacting with county and state officials, and more.