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INCLEMENT WEATHER/UNSCHEDULED UNIVERSITY CLOSINGS

Purpose
Inclement weather in Northeastern Pennsylvania is to be expected, especially in the winter months. The University makes every effort to maintain normal operations as scheduled. At times, however, severe weather conditions or other serious emergencies may warrant closing the University and canceling scheduled classes.

The purpose of this policy is to ensure the safety of the University’s students, faculty, staff, and visitors and to ensure that essential University facilities and functions remain operational during severe weather conditions or other serious emergencies.

Determination of Closing
When school is in session, the Vice President of Academic Affairs, in consultation with the Vice President of Finance and Administration, will decide if severe weather conditions or other serious emergency warrants closing the University. In the absence of the Vice President of Academic Affairs, the decision will be made by the Vice President of Finance and Administration.

When school is not in session, the Vice President of Finance and Administration will decide if severe weather conditions or other serious emergency warrants closing the University.

The order of priority of individuals authorized to make the decision to close or delay opening the University in the absence of the Vice President of Academic Affairs and the Vice President of Finance and Administration is as follows:

  1. Vice President Student Affairs
  2. Vice President University Advancement
  3. Vice President Planning, Assessment and Research

Closing the University includes both classes and offices. The decision will be made based on the following information:

  • Conditions of the University roadways, parking lots, sidewalks and the ability of the facilities staff to keep up with the storm
  • Conditions of local roadways and the ability of the state and county to keep the roadways passable
  • Weather forecasts
  • State and/or county restrictions

Types of Closing Decisions
The University will observe one of the following types of closing decisions:

  • Closed: The University, including all departments, is closed; classes and all events are cancelled for that day and evening. Essential personnel are required to report on time for their regular work shift.
  • Delayed Opening or Compressed Schedule: The University will open at a later time than the beginning of its regular business hours (8:00 am class/8:30 am business). Essential personnel are required to report on time for their regular shift.
  • Early Closing: The University will close at a specified time that is earlier than the end of its regular business hours (4:30 pm). Early closing includes all evening classes and specified afternoon classes.

Announcement of Closing Decision
Communication of any decision to close the University is initiated by the Office of the Vice President Academic Affairs or the Vice President of Finance and Administration, utilizing sources such as: the “Information Hotline” (570-674-6311); local media (television); voice mail and e-mail messages; telephone calls to departments for an Early Closing; announcement via the University website; and notification through the MU Alert messaging system.

Extracurricular Activities
Unless otherwise announced, all extracurricular activities (lectures, recitals, athletic events, etc.) are cancelled when the University is closed.

Essential Personnel
Jobs with responsibilities to ensure that vital University facilities and functions remain operational during severe weather conditions or other serious emergencies are considered essential personnel (e.g. safety staff, facilities staff, etc.). When a decision to close the University is made, essential personnel are required to work their normally scheduled shift and/or in excess of their normally scheduled shift as needed.

Other categories of employees may occasionally be designated as essential personnel when circumstances require a change in status. Supervisors will notify the employee of this change in status as soon as practical.

Essential personnel who fail to report to work may be subject to disciplinary action, as outlined in Volume V, section 5.7.1.2 for staff.

Although not considered essential personnel, the library has developed contingency plans so that services can be offered.

On-Call Procedure – Inclement Weather
Essential personnel should also review the link to the On-call Policy. The On-Call Policy also applies during inclement weather in terms of compensation.

Nonessential Personnel
Regular, full-time employees, who are absent from work because the University closed due to severe weather conditions or other serious emergency, will receive regular pay for the day.

Compensation
Non-exempt essential personnel, who work when the University is closed due to severe weather conditions or other serious emergency, will be paid at a rate of time and one half their regular rate of pay, for the hours they work, plus hours worked in excess of 40 hrs./ week will count towards overtime.

Examples:

  • A non-exempt essential personnel employee who has 72 total regular hours worked for the pay period, and who reports to and works 8 hours when the University is closed due to severe weather conditions or other serious emergency (within the same pay period), will be paid 72 hours at their regular hourly rate of pay and 8 hours at time and one half their regular rate of pay.
  • A non-exempt essential personnel employee who has 72 total regular hours worked for the pay period, and who reports to and works 10 hours when the University is closed due to severe weather conditions or other serious emergency (within the same pay period), will be paid 70 hours at their regular hourly rate of pay and 10 hours at time and one half their regular rate of pay. In addition, 2 hours will count towards overtime and the employee will be paid 2 additional hours at their regular hourly rate of pay.

Exempt essential personnel, who work when the University is closed due to severe weather conditions or other serious emergency, will be paid their regular pay amount and are not entitled to additional pay.

Employees on pre-approved leave due to vacation, personal, or sick days, will not be charged leave for the day or the portion of the day the University closed due to severe weather conditions or other serious emergencies.

Individual Class Cancellations
Weather conditions in a particular area that are not severe enough for a University closing or delay still might make it hazardous for an employee to make it to campus. Each employee is expected to use discretion in determining if travel is safe. Individual faculty members must also take into account that the cancellation of one or more of their classes while the University remains open, may have a negative impact on the number of students who attend other classes.

In extreme weather conditions, if a faculty member determines that it is too dangerous to come to campus or remain on campus, that faculty member must immediately contact the office of the Vice President of Academic Affairs and their respective Department Chair/Dean. In addition, the faculty member must change his or her voice mail greeting on their office telephone explaining which class or classes will not be held. The greeting change must be made at least two hours in advance of a scheduled class. It must be made clear that other faculty may be holding classes and students are expected to attend. While each faculty member is asked to make every effort to hold classes when the University is officially open, said faculty member will be expected to make his or her own professional decision in this area. Faculty members must fully explain this policy to all students at the beginning of each semester and include the meeting time of his or her class in the event of a compressed schedule and his or her office telephone number in the class syllabi.

In extreme weather conditions, if a non-essential employee determines that it is too dangerous to come to campus or remain on campus, that employee must immediately contact his or her supervisor. In addition, the employee must change his or her voice mail greeting on their office telephone. Non-essential employees who are absent from work because of extreme weather conditions, while the university otherwise remains open, normally must use their personal day, vacation day, leave without pay, or with the permission of their supervisor, make arrangements to make up the hours of work.

All employees must familiarize themselves with the process of changing their voice mail greeting from a remote telephone.

Snow Removal
Vehicles parked in areas identified for snow removal will be towed at the owner’s expense. It is the owner’s responsibility to move vehicles upon notification by the University.

Emergency Response Plan
During severe weather conditions or other serious emergencies, The Campus Safety Department will follow the protocols outlined in the Emergency Response Guide.

Revised: December 18, 2012

Approved: December 18, 2012

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