Inclement Weather/Emergency Closure

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University Policy Number 2207

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Responsible Office: , ,

Policy Procedure:

Related Law & Policy:


I. SCOPE

This policy applies to all faculty, staff, students, volunteers, visitors, guests, tenant organizations and contractors at all George Mason University owned and leased locations. Tenant organizations and jointly operated ventures held at George Mason University facilities will make independent decisions and announcements regarding delays or cancellations due to adverse weather conditions or emergency situations.  Public events, extracurricular activities, and university activities may be held if safety permits and staff are available.   Decisions to close one or more campuses, open late, or close early due to emergency conditions other than weather will apply to all organizations and activities unless specifically exempted at the time the decision is made.   George Mason University reserves the right to restrict access to facilities or prohibit activities in the interest of health and safety or property protection.

 II. POLICY STATEMENT

It is the policy of George Mason University to operate in accordance with the approved University Calendar and to maintain full operations unless specifically closed by university officials. In the event of inclement weather/emergency conditions, the Governor has delegated authority to the President or their designee to close the university.

Decisions to alter the university’s academic or operating schedule for reasons other than weather will be made in response to specific emergency conditions, weather, local and regional traffic, and infrastructure issues.  Changes will be communicated to all affected individuals as quickly as possible in accordance with established emergency notification procedures. Decisions regarding schedule changes or closings will be made no later than 5:00 a.m. when possible.

For the sake of clarity and consistency, all university campuses will follow the same operating schedule to the extent possible, however the university recognizes campuses may not operate on the same schedule due to weather patterns or the localized nature of
emergency conditions.

III. PROCESS

Decisions to alter university operations and/or the university’s academic or operating schedule are made by the Provost and/or the Senior Vice President or the Chief of Staff in the absence of one or both, upon the recommendation of a subcommittee of the Emergency Operations Group.

Anticipated Weather Event: When severe weather (e.g. snow, hurricane, or extreme heat) is anticipated, the decisions to delay opening or close the university must be made by 5:00 a.m. when possible to facilitate public notification.

Mid-Day Weather Event: When possible and safety permits, modifications to class schedules and university operations will be coordinated with the academic schedule.

Factors to Consider: The following are factors that will be taken in account when deciding on the alteration of the academic or operational schedule.  Due to the complex nature of weather emergencies decisions should not be limited to this list.

  • Current and future road conditions surrounding George Mason University Campuses
  • Current and future closures/suspensions of public transportation
  • Current and future status of region and university utilities (i.e., power, water, and sewage)
  • Current and future conditions of roads and walkways on campus

Weather Resources: General weather information, including historical and current data, for the National Capitol Region provided by the National Oceanic and Atmosphere Administration (NOAA) will be consulted as well as local NOAA forecasts for Fairfax, Prince William, Loudoun, Warren, and Arlington Counties.

Extreme Temperatures: When the region experiences extreme heat or cold, all outdoor academic or operational activities will be postponed or limited in duration to avoid harmful exposure unless absolutely necessary.  Instructors must notify their students and plan accordingly.  Facilities Management supervisors are responsible for ensuring that employees are properly outfitted for the weather conditions. The university will communicate the danger of extreme temperatures whenever potentially harmful conditions exist.

Non-Weather Related Emergency: In the event of a non-weather related emergency, the decision to modify the university’s academic or operating schedule will be based upon the unique circumstances of the specific emergency.

IV. DEFINITIONS

Modified Operating Schedule: One or More University Activities is Delayed, Postponed, Cancelled, or Released Early.

  • Classes, work schedules, outdoor activities, and/or events are delayed, released early, or cancelled.
  • Students, Faculty and Staff should observe official announcements regarding operating schedules or conditions posted on the university homepage, Blackboard, Mason Alert, University Information (703-993-1000), or other media outlets.
  • Students should observe modified class schedules and continue to monitor email or Blackboard for additional information or assignments from their instructors or university.
  • Faculty and Staff are obligated to determine if their attendance is required, telework is acceptable, unscheduled leave can be taken, or other arrangements made.
  • Tenant organizations and private event coordinators must coordinate their activities with the appropriate university staff member(s) to ensure that staffing and facilities are available and must consider the safety of their employees and patrons.
  • Language used to announce a modified operating schedule will be consistent with local media outlet announcements.  Examples include; delayed, early dismissal, activities canceled, classes canceled, or open 2 hours late.

Full Closure: All Activities with the Exception of Facilities Management and Resident Student Support are cancelled.

  • The university is closed; all undesignated eligible[1] employees receive university leave.
  • All activities (extracurricular, public, and auxiliary) are cancelled.
  • Only designated personnel are required to report to work.
  • The Emergency Operations Center and Emergency Operations Group is activated.
  • Language used to announce a full closure will be consistent with local media outlet announcements.  Examples include; closed, essential personnel only, closed Thursday, closing at 3 p.m.

Re-opening: Unless specific announcements extending cancellations are made, classes will resume the next regularly scheduled class day and the university will re-open at the beginning of the next morning shift or regular business day.

V. ACADEMIC SCHEDULE(S)

Faculty are asked to discuss the university’s Inclement Weather/Emergency Closure Policy with their classes and to make known their own expectations and plans of action and review how students will be informed of weather-related/emergency decisions; for example via e-mail, notices on classroom doors,  Mason Alert, and University Information (703-993-1000).

In the event hazardous conditions make travel unsafe, even if classes have not been cancelled, teaching faculty will notify department chairpersons when they are unable to conduct classes. Academic departments should make every effort to inform students when an individual faculty member is unable to make it to campus because of travel conditions.

In the event that classes are cancelled during the last week of scheduled classes, the appropriate reading days in the following week are to be used to make up those classes. For example, if one day of classes is cancelled, then the first reading day is designated as a makeup day. If two days of classes are cancelled, then the first two reading days are designated as makeup days. However, no exams may be scheduled during the makeup class sessions. Departments are charged with administering appropriate schedule changes in the event of the cancellation of classes.

Decisions regarding weekend classes will be made using the same procedures as decisions regarding weekday classes. All federal government contract classes at George Mason University are to follow weather-related decisions made by the Federal Government and not by George Mason University.

VI.  REGIONAL CAMPUSES, CENTERS, AND SITES

Regional Campuses, Centers, and Sites are expected to follow the university schedule as determined by university officials.  Under unique circumstances, such as accreditation requirements, research activities, or auxiliary activities, Regional Campuses, Centers, and Sites may be exempt from the stipulations of this policy so long as university or facility services are adequate and the activities do not jeopardize employee or participant safety.  The determination to conduct non-academic activities during a modified or closed operating schedule must be coordinated with Facilities Management, University Information, and university units expected to support operations.  In the interest of student, public, and employee safety, the university reserves the right to suspend all university sanctioned activities at all leased or owned facilities.

VII. COMPENSATION

Compensation of classified staff and wage employees will follow Virginia Department of Human Resource Management Policy No. 1.25, Hours of Work and Virginia Department of Human Resource Management Policy No. 1.35, Emergency Closing. This Administrative Policy complies with, and supplements, the State’s policy.

Although Virginia Department of Human Resource Management (DHRM) Policy Number 1.35 applies only to classified employees, the university extends the spirit of this policy to the entire university community including the section entitled “Alternate Work Schedule”.  In this case, should the university close for a day(s) due to inclement weather or other emergency, those salaried employees on compressed schedules will receive up to 8 hours of university leave for each day the university is closed and will need to make up any additional hours in their alternate schedule by using appropriate leave or working additional hours during the week. Employees on compressed schedules may also go off their compressed schedule during the inclement weather/emergency condition with supervisor approval.  In general, the State’s policy is that persons working on site should be shown forbearance when inclement weather causes them to be late for work.  Further, those classified staff or administrative/professional faculty that are “designated personnel” and required to report to work when the university is otherwise closed will be given compensatory leave for this work.

The following definitions define terms commonly used in employee work profiles and are necessary to understand the impact of modified operating schedules or full closure on the various employment classifications:

Unscheduled leave:  The Provost and/or the Senior Vice President or Chief of Staff may permit employees to utilize appropriate leave (e.g. annual, family/personal, recognition, etc.) during an inclement weather or emergency event.  Non-designated employees who cannot report for work may request unscheduled leave for the entire scheduled workday.  Employees must notify their supervisors of their intent to take unscheduled leave.  Non-wage employees must account for the time period that they are away from routinely scheduled work by using annual leave or compensatory time taken. Wage employees will not be compensated if they do not work.

Designated Employees: Designated employees are expected to report for work on time.  Designated employees are employees assigned to positions identified by their departments as necessary to the maintenance of operations and services to the university. Designated employees may be required to work during inclement weather/emergency conditions in order to perform security functions, maintenance, snow removal, or provide other necessary services. Departments will inform “designated” personnel in writing prior to employment or shortly thereafter, or as needed in the case of emergency conditions.  Designated employees should report to work under all conditions unless conditions prohibit safe travel.  Designated employees receive compensatory time for the period of time worked when all other employees are asked to remain home; all other eligible[2] employees receive compensatory time for any authorized work hours that university offices are closed.
Teleworking: Telework can be approved on a temporary basis with supervisor approval.  Employees that telework on a routine basis are expected to complete a telework agreement.  Employees with formal telework agreements whose scheduled telework day is on the impacted day(s) telework on their regular schedule and do not receive university leave (Flexible Work Policy #2202).

VIII. NOTIFICATION

A. University closings, class cancellations, late openings, or other weather related changes in the university’s operating schedule will be announced on:

  • University Information: 703-993-1000;
  • On line: Homepage, Mason News, and department websites as appropriate;
  • The university’s emergency notification system (Mason Alert);
  • GMU-TV; and
  • all local media outlets (although media coverage cannot be guaranteed)

Human Resources & Payroll and the Environmental Health and Safety Office will utilize their communication networks (HR Liaisons, Mason Alert, etc.) to inform the community when a decision is made by the Provost and/or the Senior Vice President to modify the university’s operating status. Communications will be carried out as outlined in the university’s Emergency Support Function #2: Emergency Communication document.

B.  Decisions to close the university or modify the university’s operating schedule will be communicated to the Associate Vice President for Human Resources & Payroll who will alert the network of HR Liaisons through the Instant HR/Payroll listserv. Early closing announcements will be posted in each of the outlets listed in section VII.A.

Deans, department chairs, department heads, and supervisors will ensure that faculty, staff, and students are aware of inclement weather/emergency conditions, and how information regarding the canceling of classes and the closing of the university will be communicated.  Should conditions warrant, and a decision is made to remain open during inclement weather or emergency conditions, every attempt will be made to provide a mid-day update to the university community to advise them of the decision to remain open.

C.  Parking & Transportation will advise the shuttle operators that the shuttle system will remain open for at least one hour after the official closing of the university to ensure that faculty, staff, and students can get to their vehicles or a public transportation connection.

IX. RESPONSIBILITIES

Policy Administrator: The Associate Vice President of Human Resources & Payroll and Assistant Vice President, Environmental Health and Safety will update this administrative policy as appropriate and ensure that its contents are published and available to all persons within the university community.

X. COMPLIANCE

Teaching Faculty are expected to be present at all class meetings unless classes are cancelled. Administrative and Professional Faculty, Research Faculty, and Classified Employees are expected to be at work, except in exceptional circumstances, whenever the university is open. Classified employees, other than designated personnel, who report to work or remain at work during the period the university is closed, will not be credited with compensatory leave unless their supervisor authorized such leave in advance.

XI. EFFECTIVE DATE AND APPROVAL

This policy is effective October 4, 2002. This Administrative Policy shall be reviewed and revised, if necessary, annually to become effective at the beginning of the university’s fiscal year, unless otherwise noted.

Approved:

________/S/_______________
Jennifer Wagner Davis
Senior Vice President

________/S/________________
Peter N. Stearns
Provost

Date approved: January 7, 2003

Date Revised: November 8, 2004

Date Revised: July 28, 2011

Date Revised: May 28, 2013

 

 



[1] Eligible employees are all salaried faculty and staff.

[2] Eligible employees are all salaried faculty and staff.