Winter Weather

How cancellations are made and communicated

Making the decision

Decisions to cancel classes for an entire campus or to close a regional campus because of dangerous weather conditions usually involve boots on the ground, rubber on the road (or ice), and weather monitoring that begins days before the wintery event.

The final decision falls to the campus chancellor or provost, with input from campus leadership. However, the decision process begins with emergency managers, police, and facility operations staff who monitor weather every day and work to keep campus safe and streets and sidewalks clear. They often monitor storm systems for several days before they reach Indiana.

Sometimes winter storms result in special plans for clearing streets and sidewalks. When safety concerns escalate, a conference call involving senior campus management may be held to consider details such as the status of grounds, buildings, walkways, bus system, weather forecasts, and travel advisories. These discussions include representatives for student affairs, communications, and residential services if the campus includes student housing.

Communications

Once a final decision is made, campuswide cancellations, delays, and closures are announced via IU Notify emergency alerts, local radio stations, and the main social media accounts for a campus. Many campus IUPD divisions also have social media that is used to share these messages.

IU students and staff determine how they receive IU Notify emergency alerts. They can check their settings by searching for IU Notify at one.iu.edu to make sure they can receive alerts at home (rather than at the office or via parent phones).

The deans of the IU School of Medicine and the IU School of Dentistry also can cancel classes and have their own procedures for notifying students, staff and faculty.

We cannot close

Even when classes and activities are canceled, some campuses cannot close completely because of the services needed to maintain residence halls, medical facilities, research labs, and other critical functions. While they may not close, some campuses can restrict who can enter campus.

IU’s adverse weather policy

Sometimes conditions on a campus may be clear yet a winter storm dumped a foot of snow on nearby communities. Students and employees need to assess travel conditions where they live and determine whether it is safe for them to travel to class or work.

Emergency management experts recommend the use of weather apps and online resources to keep abreast of weather and travel advisories.

The university’s adverse weather policy states that all staff and temporary employees are expected to report to work unless otherwise notified. If adverse weather conditions cause extreme travel hazards to or from work:

  • Employees should make every effort to notify their supervisor.
  • Advance notice requirements for use of time off is waived.
  • Non-exempt staff may use paid time off or, with approval, may make up the work time during the same week.
  • Exempt staff may use available PTO.
  • Staff employees without paid time off may be absent without pay, with accruals. Absent without pay must be in whole days for exempt staff.
  • All absences from work for temporary employees are without pay.

There is no adverse weather policy for academics. Classes are in session unless there is a campuswide closure. Students and instructors should determine how to communicate with each other in the case of individual class cancellations or absences due to weather-related adversities.

Helpful winter weather information

Check conditions before you go

Don’t leave your safety to chance. Emergency management experts encourage people with smart phones to use weather apps, which often provide alerts for hazardous conditions, such as tornadoes and heavy winds. Travel advisories can be found online, too.

Things you should do

  • Dress appropriately for cold weather any time you go anywhere, with multiple layers of clothing underneath a water resistant coat; protect your extremities with a hat, gloves or mittens, and waterproof shoes with good traction.
  • Protect your face and lungs with a scarf.
  • Charge your phone fully before going anywhere.
  • Have an emergency kit at home and in your car.
  • Always have at least three days of food, water, and any other supplies you might need should you not be able to leave your home.

Things you should not do

  • Don’t go anywhere underdressed. Your warm car may break down or your destination could be without power, so plan for the worst.
  • Don't rush. Allow for more travel time during and after any wintery precipitation.
  • Snow can melt and refreeze as ice on the road or sidewalk after a sunny day.
  • Don’t use an oven to warm up your home. If you must use a space heater, carefully follow its instructions.
  • Don’t stock up at the last moment before a storm hits, be prepared days before.
  • Don’t travel during a storm unless it is absolutely necessary.