Emergency closing policy gets update

A new-and-improved policy for deciding how to close campus in cases of emergencies, including severe weather, will provide the campus community with clearer directions on what to do and where to look for the information.

“It’s about keeping the community safe,” said Lynn Logan, Vice-President (Operations and Finance). The policy and procedures were last updated in 2011 and “we found we needed to update it and provide additional guidance.”

Although the policy applies to all possible reasons for closing, weather closures tend to dominate campus conversations. Last February, the university shut down twice six days apart because of weather.

Under the revised procedures, university officials will ordinarily decide by 6 a.m. if inclement weather requires daytime closings and before 2:30 p.m. on any changes to evening operations.

Western will use a variety of ways to communicate changes to scheduled operations.

Members of Western’s community should double-check that the Alert WesternU app is downloaded on their phones – it appears as ‘Everbridge’ on mobile devices – and set their personal account preferences on the app to allow push notifications.

The community can also check official Western social media channels, including the Western Facebook page, Instagram @westernu, and Twitter @WesternU for the latest weather information. The Western Weather Page will also be updated, as needed.

If the university remains open during inclement weather, Western will strive to ensure campus is safe and accessible, by clearing snow from sidewalks and roads on a priority basis, for example.

In those circumstances, anyone deciding it may be unsafe to come to campus should make alternative work and study arrangements with their supervisor or instructor.

The policy says closing the university under any condition would mean suspending classes, tests and exams (including online exams); deadlines for student assignments would be postponed to the same hour on the next academic day the university is open; and deadlines for job applications would be postponed to the next open business day.

Even during a closing, essential operations such as critical research and facilities heating would continue to take place.

If a change to operating hours is required at some point during a workday, the community would be told whether the closing is immediate or at a specified time.

In most cases, any class or exam already under way could continue until the specified closing time.