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Emergency Closing Policies and Procedures
The chancellor has the responsibility for making decisions relative to closing the campus in the event of severe weather or other emergencies. At UMD, the following procedures will be implemented:
1. The chancellor, or a designee, will make the decision to close the campus under emergency conditions.
2. When the decision is made to close UMD, the Chancellor’s Office will notify the President’s Office and the Board of Regents Office.
3. As soon as the decision to close has been made, the Chancellor’s Office for UMD classes, or Continuing Education (CE) for evening classes, will notify the Director of External Affairs who will immediately initiate action to inform the UMD community and the public. The Director of External Affairs, or a designee, will update the UMD Snow Advisory Hotline (726-7669). Offices having reason to doubt the authenticity of the message should first call the hotline before contacting External Affairs or the Department of Police.
4. The Director of External Affairs, or a
designee, will call the following Duluth media for immediate broadcast:
5. Closing for the Day: When possible, the decision and announcements are made by 6 a.m. Closings due to weather will normally cover only the day of the announcement. If it is intended to cover a longer period, the time covered will be specifically identified in the announcement. Unless otherwise noted, cancellation of Saturday or evening classes will cover classes only for the day the announcement is made.
6. Closing Continuing Education (CE): In the event that day classes are canceled, CE classes will also be canceled. Should a storm develop after day classes have begun, the CE director, following consultation with the chancellor, is responsible for the decision to cancel CE classes. This decision will be made no later than 4 p.m. on the day in question for evening classes, and by 7:30 a.m. for Saturday classes. Class cancellation does not include other university events, services, or programs. It is possible to close evening classes even if day school classes have not been canceled; however, should day school classes be canceled, evening classes will also be canceled.
7. Closing for Special Events: Events with UMD sponsorship and non-UMD events held on the campus — college entrance examinations, for example — are subject to the official general closing. Major public events such as men’s and women’s intercollegiate athletic events, concerts, and lectures will be canceled/postponed through a special or additional proclamation and are not subject to the official general closing announcement.
8. University Units Operating During Emergency Closings:
Because of the nature of their activities, the following university departments having critical units must remain open during an emergency closing: Department of Police, Facilities Management Heating Plant, Food Services, Housing, Animal Facilities, and Information Technology Systems and Services. (For policy purposes, “critical” is defined to be “required to protect the health and safety of human and animal life and the basic security of the university’s physical plant and equipment.”) Critical employees in these functional areas will be expected to report to work during emergency closings. In the event these critical employees leave their work assignment without permission during an emergency closing, they are subject to discipline. Critical employees not reporting to work will receive no compensation (pay) for their time. Supervisors are responsible for designating (and notifying in writing) critical employees. Employees expected to work will be awarded equivalent time off as noted in item 9.
9. Pay Provisions During Emergency Closings
The primary premise for weather-related closing of the University of Minnesota Duluth is that the institution will remain open unless there is unreasonable risk or danger to a substantial number of students and employees due to unreasonably hazardous driving conditions within a reasonable distance of the campus.
Following are some explanations and interpretations of the general statement:
• Unreasonable risk or danger is the touchstone in the decision to close the University. It can be argued with considerable justification that there is real risk and danger whenever one ventures forth on the streets and highways of Duluth and Minnesota during the winter. It is not uncommon that ice and slippery spots persist all winter on some streets and roads and that this is dangerous. Snowfalls that we consider moderate and present no more than normal risk or danger would close down whole cities or areas in other sections of the country. Being better equipped and more experienced, we routinely handle rather extreme weather and driving conditions. The point is, we all face some risk and danger in driving to and from work on winter streets and roads in Duluth and Minnesota. The decision to close the institution focuses on whether or not the weather has created a condition where there is unreasonable risk and danger.
• Extremely hazardous driving conditions are the primary basis for determining that there is unreasonable risk and danger. It could be concluded that with a two-inch snowfall compacted on the streets, hazardous driving would exist by definition. Few of us, living in this climate and area, would consider these conditions serious enough to prevent our driving on the streets or getting to or from work.
A number of steps are followed to determine whether or not unreasonably hazardous driving conditions do, in fact, exist. The ability of Facilities Management to clear and maintain parking lots and campus roadways is of critical importance. Weather conditions and forecasts are checked with the weather bureau. Driving conditions are judged in a number of ways: the State Highway Department is contacted regarding the condition of roads in the area; the City Street Maintenance Department is contacted regarding the condition of city streets; the UMD Facilities Management and Department of Police are consulted regarding the campus streets, surrounding area and the main city streets.
Travel advisories are noted but are generally of little help in reaching a conclusion on closing. The Weather Bureau and the Department of Transportation issue storm warnings and travel advisories for large areas and often have little relevance to local weather and travel conditions.
Other considerations are the status of plowing and sanding the roads and streets. On most occasions maintenance crews do an exceptional job of plowing and sanding to keep main thoroughfares open in the city and surrounding area. Whether or not bus service is available is also a serious consideration.
• The number of students and employees affected by the inclement weather is a major consideration in reaching a decision to shut down. It has been concluded, based on review of the information available on addresses, that 90 percent of the students and employees live within two miles of the campus and probably as high as 75-80 percent live within one mile. Some employees and students commute 60 miles and more to campus. It is possible that driving conditions may be judged to be extremely hazardous, involving unreasonable risk and danger at some distance from the campus, and not considered so within a mile or two of the campus. The decision to close is largely based on the travel conditions in fairly close proximity to the campus.
Closing the institution generally involves considerable additional expense and cost, as well as the loss of productivity. Therefore, the decision to close the campus is given very careful consideration.
One final issue which is extremely important is that all employees must decide whether unreasonable risk will be encountered if they report to work or do not leave until the end of their scheduled shift. Supervisors are instructed to make special allowances for all employees (other than those in the “critical” categories) who have reason to believe their personal safety or that of their family is in jeopardy. Arrangements will be made for the use of vacation or to make up time at the supervisor's discretion for any work shift missed. The supervisors shall inform the appropriate administrator of their action.