Severe weather closure FAQ - Updated January 19, 2020

What does it mean for Western to be closed?

Closing the university is defined as a suspension of classes, examinations and all other in-person activities on University property with the exception of critical operations necessary to mitigate risk and support the continuance of research, personal safety, and campus infrastructure.

Western will close because of severe weather when normal operation would pose a significant danger to students, faculty and staff, or would inhibit large numbers of them from coming to campus or returning safely to their homes.

The university will be considered open until a decision to close is announced.

How is the decision made?

While there are a variety of criteria that affect decisions about operating a campus in the face of weather disruptions, safety is at the heart of the final decision to remain open, reduce services, cancel classes or close completely. Admittedly, this can be a subjective call.

When a weather threat is identified, a leadership group comprised of the vice-president (Operations and Finance); associate vice-president (Human Resources); director (Campus Community Police Service); associate vice-president (Facilities Management); manager (Landscape Services); and director (News, Media and Community Relations), in collaboration with the provost and vice-president (Academic), gather to examine both the on-the-ground condition of campus and the current/forecasted weather conditions.

They essentially ask: How does campus look now, how will it fare throughout the day and will it be safe for campus community members?

At that point, a decision is made to remain open, reduce services, cancel classes or close completely.

When will that decision be communicated by?

Every effort will be made to confirm a daytime closing by 6:00 a.m. and an evening closing by 2:30 p.m. If weather conditions change throughout the day, the University will make an announcement as soon as possible.

How will that decision be communicated?

A University closure will be communicated on Western’s home page, weather website, and social media accounts (Twitter, Facebook and Instagram). Alert WesternU will also be used to communicate this information and the campus community is encouraged to customize their accounts to receive text messages.

What does it look like for the university to be closed?

If the University closes, all in-person activities, classes and examinations are cancelled or rescheduled, with the exception of critical operations needed to ensure the safety of students, faculty, staff and visitors, support ongoing research and maintain University infrastructure.

For in-person classes, deadlines for assignments and other submissions are postponed until the same hour on the next academic day that the University is open.

Scheduled online learning continues to take place at the discretion of instructors and deadlines for online student assignments and other submissions are due as indicated in the course outline.

In the event of a University closure, students on placements or rotations in hospitals or clinics are usually required to attend those locations, if it is safe to do so. For more information about a specific program’s policies related to weather and attending placements, please review the program policy or contact the programs’ placement coordinator.. Dental and medical learners at Schulich Medicine & Dentistry should refer to the School's Inclement Weather Plan.

In the event of a weather-related closure, students and staff learning and working remotely will continue to have access to virtual tools, support and resources.

Western’s affiliated university colleges (Brescia, Huron, King’s) make their own decisions on closures, but in most instances follow the same course of action as Western. Students at affiliated university colleges should refer to their school’s communications for guidance.

What does it mean to cancel classes?

When Western announces classes are cancelled that means all in-person classes, laboratories, tutorials on main campus will not be held, including Continuing Studies.

Faculty members and academic departments do not have the authority to make exceptions. Students should consult with their instructors regarding any rescheduled in-person classes or activities.

Scheduled online learning continues to take place at the discretion of instructors and deadlines for online student assignments and other submissions are due as indicated in the course outline.

Western’s affiliated university colleges (Brescia, Huron, King’s) make their own decisions on closures, but in most instances follow the same course of action as Western. Students at affiliated university colleges should refer to their school’s communications for guidance.

Do online classes continue if Western is closed?

Scheduled online learning continues to take place at the discretion of instructors and deadlines for online student assignments and other submissions are due as indicated in the course outline.

What is a service reduction?

There may be occasions when weather conditions are such that Western remains open, but it is deemed appropriate to reduce services. The university could cancel classes as well as other scheduled meetings with students (laboratories, tutorials, tests, exams, etc.). In this situation, no student will be academically penalized for being unable to attend campus.

What services are maintained during closure or service disruption?

The University may need to keep certain facilities operating after a decision to close the University has been made. Some departments and services may have to continue total or partial operations depending on the circumstances. It can be anticipated that some or all employees in such departments may be asked to remain at work or be called in to work to provide emergency services. Operations during such closure may be reduced but there are services that will be maintained, as applicable, for students, research, campus safety, and facilities.

Employees required to report to work will be so designated by their department heads (or designates) responsible for those services. Department leaders/managers are responsible for assigning duties to be carried out.

Will I get paid if Western is closed?

In instances where the University is closed, or there is a reduction in services under this policy, employees otherwise scheduled to work will not suffer a loss in salary for lost time incurred. Those who are required to work to maintain services to the community during any period of closure will be paid in accordance with their collective or employment agreement.

Employees who were not intending to be at work and who had scheduled vacation, sick leave, compensating time off for overtime, days off in lieu, normal days off or other approved leave will have their time recorded as scheduled before the closure was announced.

What happens if Western remains open, but I don’t feel safe traveling to campus?

When Western does not close in severe weather, the University will strive to ensure the safety and accessibility of the campus.

Entranceways to all buildings and all accessibility paths will be cleared on a priority basis. Individual circumstances vary widely and, when Western remains open in severe weather, those who judge that it may be unsafe to come to campus should discuss alternate work and study arrangements with their instructor or supervisor.

Faculty (instructors) who are not able to reach the campus to conduct in-person classes should inform their students as soon as possible by whatever means is appropriate (announcement on course homepage, email, etc.).

In the event severe weather results in students missing examinations or graded coursework, faculty may elect to reschedule or provide accommodations.

Graduate teaching assistants who are not able to reach the campus for their scheduled work must notify their course instructor and endeavor, where possible, to find a suitable replacement and determine how to make up missed hours.

Staff members should inform their department leader/manager as soon as possible if they will not be present at work that day.

If Western is closed, are my duties involving the hospital also cancelled?

In the event of a University closure, students on placements or rotations in hospitals or clinics are usually required to attend those locations, if it is safe to do so. For more information about a specific program’s policies related to weather and attending placements, please review the program policy or contact the program’s placement coordinator. Dental and medical learners at Schulich Medicine & Dentistry should refer to the School's Inclement Weather Plan.

Where can I read Western’s Emergency Service Reduction and Closure policy and procedure?

Policy: https://www.uwo.ca/univsec/pdf/policies_procedures/section1/mapp114.pdf

Procedure: https://www.uwo.ca/univsec/pdf/policies_procedures/section1/mapp114_procedure.pdf