As the weather becomes colder and more dangerous, this board would like to bring attention to some of the issues that may arise at Brandeis as we experience winter during the COVID-19 pandemic. 

Because most classes are online or have an online component this semester, many professors may consider outdoor conditions a non-issue when deciding on attendance and deadline expectations for each of their classes. However, a large portion of students are not taking classes on the Brandeis campus this semester, and in many places wind and snowstorms regularly impede people’s access to the internet. Faculty should be aware of this, and they should try to be as lenient and understanding as possible this winter if students let them know that they have not been able to attend class or complete an assignment on time because of weather conditions that are out of their control. Even if there are no power outages or internet connection issues on the Brandeis campus during a storm affecting Waltham, the same may not be true for students living off-campus or nearby in the surrounding area.

As temperatures continue to lower, more students will be in need of the campus shuttles and vans to commute between locations. Many students who are taking evening classes will also rely on the service to travel on and off campus safely. At the same time, as COVID-19 cases keep rising, the capacity of each vehicle to transport students is limited in order to meet the needs of social distancing. Students have also had difficulties reserving seats ahead of time by calling the reservation number. The online reservation system has not been adapted for social distancing guidelines; it still shows 12 available spots for each vehicle, despite the fact that fewer people are now allowed on the van. It is also difficult to determine the location of the next vehicle. As of press time, the live tracking sites provided on the Vans and Shuttles website are all expired. In a Nov. 2 email to the Justice, Edward Callahan, the Director of Public Safety, stated that the department has been and will be “reviewing all factors including weather related ones in accessing the transportation needs of the Community.” 

This board would like to see the related departments make changes to existing transportation, possibly by increasing the number or size of the vehicles. We also encourage the University to maintain and improve its reservation and tracking systems so that the existing services are accessible to students in need.