Webster’s Florida campuses reopened to students and faculty Monday, September 18 following an 11-day closure due to Hurricane Irma.
The campuses closed because of the anticipated storm Thursday, September 7. Irma was only days after category four Hurricane Harvey made landfall in southern Texas.
Webster University has eight campuses in Florida: Orlando, Lakeland, St. Petersburg/Tampa, Jacksonville Metro and Naval Air Station, Melbourne, Merritt Island and Ocala. Hurricane Irma was recorded at 425 miles wide. The hurricane had the ability to stretch across the entire peninsula and all eight campuses were in the path.
All members of the Webster community in Florida, South Carolina and Georgia were reported as safe and unharmed, according to Webster’s press release.
Hurricane Irma caused campuses to be shut down for nearly two weeks, which also meant nearly two weeks of classes were missed. Regional Director of Florida Operations Nicolas Spina said instructors are being directed to reconfigure course syllabi to make up for lost class time. Extended campuses in Florida do not have fall breaks and therefore lack the ability to extend the Fall 1 term into Fall 2.
“This will be an instructor/course based adjustment that will incorporate many creative approaches,” Spina said. “As long as instructors document and follow through on how the contact hours will be made up, our academic standards will not be compromised.”
The Merritt Island, Melbourne and Ocala campuses reported minor damages such as water damage from leaky roofs or loss of power and internet. All campuses were assessed prior to reopening to students, faculty and staff.
Director of Public Relations, Patrick Giblin, said each school prepared for the storm based on the individual needs of the campus. Melbourne is on the east coast and preparations were more extensive than schools located farther inland. Preparations included backing up data to servers in case of water damage, moving equipment away from windows to elevated ground and placing paper documents in waterproof safes.
Webster is encouraging all students to sign-up for the Webster Text Alert System in light of these weather events. Webster Alerts allows the university to send updated information about weather events or dangerous situations evolving on campus.
Students can sign-up to receive text message updates through My Connections on the webster.edu website under the Webster Alerts Section.