Break. In Case of Snow Day.

Friday, February 9, 2007

It’s a rarity, but it’s been known to happen: the closing of the University due to hazardous weather – an event known in the more common nomenclature as a “snow day.”

Believe it or not, there is a governing set of rules that University staff is to follow before declaring a school closure and they can found in the U of G’s human resources policy manual. The Hazardous Weather/Emergency Closing Procedures are available to read online here, but to put it simply it says that the decision to close campus down is left to President of the University or his proxy. But before the final call is made by the President’s office, the U of G staff has already begun assessing the situation.

“If the snowfall is overnight, the night shift is responsible for monitoring the roadways, parking lots and walkways on campus in conjunction with the grounds crew that would be working to clear snow,” according to Robin Begin of Security Services. Begin also says that part of this process is to monitor road conditions and weather forecasts.

Another arm of the University to have input into whether a closure is necessary is Physical Resources. In policy, Physical Resources is responsible for monitoring to see if other educational institutes in the City of Guelph and other post-secondary schools in the tri-cities area are closing as well as. Vicki Shearer of the Physical Resources office says that they work closely with Security Services to monitor conditions on campus and double check matters of infrastructure like heating.

When at all possible, this information is gathered and presented to the President or his “designate” by 6:30 am, so that Public Relations can start spreading the word to local media outlets and the U of G website by 7:00 am. If the University should decide to shut down in the middle of the day then a mass e-mail is sent out and notices are posted at various spots around campus.

Then there’s the big part of any school closure: the status of pending exams, assignments and due dates that were supposed to come up that day. As it stands right now there is no policy that standardizes how due dates are rescheduled, although the matter is under review, says Rose M. Diamante of the Office of Registrarial Services. As it stands right now, each individual college sets their own make-up dates as the situation calls for it. The only contingency the registrar goes by is in the event of a hazardous weather closure on an exam day, in these cases the exam day is rescheduled for the next Sunday according to Diamante.

As we shuffle through the dog days of winter, we must remember that there always remains the possibility, even in Guelph, that bad weather will necessitate a university closure. When the weather outside gets frightful consult the local radio stations CJOY, 1460 AM and MAGIC, 106.1 FM, Guelph, the Kitchener CTV affiliate on channel 12 or the main page of the University website to get more information.

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