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5.1.10 Severe Weather and Natural Disaster Policy


The University has traditionally remained open for classes and regular work schedules during severe winter weather and emergency events.  Severe weather include events such as ice storms and major accumulations of snow.

University Course Of Action In The Event Of Severe Winter Weather

The final decision to close the University, to cancel classes, or to take other appropriate actions in response to severe winter weather conditions shall rest with the Vice President for Finance and Planning and the Provost or their designee's.  Environmental Health and Safety will be responsible for monitoring weather conditions and advising the Vice Presidents of the severity of the weather situation.  In the case of severe winter weather, the University may choose one of the following courses of action:

University Weather Advisory

A University weather advisory will be issued when weather conditions are such that some employees and students could experience difficulty in getting to and from the University and/or classes.  However, the majority of employees and students would be able to maintain their normal schedule.  During an advisory, classes will not be canceled and the University will continue to operate on a normal schedule (classes and work operations).

Only Classes Canceled

An Only Classes Canceled course of action will be taken when weather conditions are such that most students would be prevented from getting to classes safely. 

On occasion, daytime classes will be conducted, but due to weather conditions and poor visibility, night classes may be canceled. When on-campus evening classes are canceled, the announcement of this decision will normally be made by 2:30 p.m. and all classes starting at or after 5:00 p.m. will normally be affected.

University Closure

University closure will be declared when weather conditions are such that it would be very unsafe for students or employees to attempt to go to work or class.  Only weather-essential personnel will be required to be at their workstations.

Actions To Be Taken When Severe Weather Occurs

When severe weather is predicted, Environmental Health and Safety will initiate the procedures and monitor weather reports and forecasts.  They may contact city, county, and state agencies for input on weather and road conditions.  They will review the present weather conditions, the forecasted weather conditions, trafficability within the immediate University area (particularly for day classes), trafficability of outlying roads (particularly for night classes), and outside temperatures.  Based on information received, Environmental Health and Safety will convey the weather information and a recommended course of action to the Vice President for Finance and Planning or designee.

The Vice President for Finance and Planning or designee will confer with the Provost or designee and they will jointly make the final decision as to the course of action to be taken.  It is anticipated that the decision to alter class schedules will be made by 6:00 a.m. prior to the beginning of the regular daytime workday and/or 2:00 p.m. during the regular daytime workday.  The course of action chosen will be disseminated to selected offices and the public no later than 6:30 a.m. and 2:30 p.m. respectively.

Once a course of action has been determined, the following departments will be informed of the decision:

The Provost's Office will notify the Presidents Office, Vice President for Student Affairs, Vice President for University Advancement, and Environmental Health and Safety

Environmental Health and Safety will notify the University Police, Telecommunications/Telephone Operators, Director of Laboratory Schools, Facilities Management, Director of University Housing, and Media Relations/News Service

Vice Presidents will notify their respective departments when a weather advisory is issued.  Media Relations/News Service will notify selected television and radio stations whenever class or work schedules are altered.

During daytime working hours, faculty and staff will be advised of severe weather conditions over the University Emergency Radio System, the University HOTLINE (438-8371), and on the EHS Campus Alert Web Page.  Personnel hearing these advisory messages should pass on the information to others who may not have heard the message.

Essential Personnel

Selected positions within a variety of departments (i.e.: University Police Dept., Facilities Management, Campus Dining Service, Environmental Health and Safety, University Housing Services, Telecommunications, Student Health Services, Office of Energy Management/ Power Plant) are designated as essential to the safe and effective operation of the campus. These positions are exempt from the provisions noted above. In the event of severe weather, employees in "essential positions" may be expected to remain at work or come to work. 

Safety of employees is essential. If travel conditions exist that endanger the safety of an "essential" employee, the supervisor should be made aware of such situations immediately.

All departments, especially Facilities Management, University Police Dept., Environmental Health and Safety, Telecommunications, Student Health Services, Campus Dining Service, Human Resources Office, Office of Energy Management/ Power Plant and University Housing Services are responsible for designating essential personnel, for developing procedures for emergency response, and for providing training in how to respond to emergencies.


Personnel scheduled for work shifts subsequent to a weather advisory should report to work as usual.  Each employee will individually determine if the weather is such that they cannot get to work safely. If it is determined that due to weather or traffic conditions, they can’t report to work, they must contact supervisory personnel.  Management then knows that the employee will be absent and is not experiencing travel problems en route to campus. The employee may request to use vacation, dock time, or banked compensatory time (non-exempt only) for the time missed. 

If conditions are such that employees should not report to work, employees will be advised via announcements over local radio and television stations.  In this case, the employee will be paid for the normal time they would have worked during the closure.

An employee on sick leave or vacation the day before or the day after his/her work schedule is altered due to severe weather, shall use vacation or sick leave, as appropriate.

Procedures When Severe Weather Occurs Prior to Working Hours

  1. Employees are expected to make a reasonable effort to report to work at their regularly scheduled time.
  2. If the University is open and an employee is unable to report on time for work due to the weather or an emergency situation, the employee should notify the supervisor or leave a message at the office.  The employee may request to use vacation, dock time, or banked compensatory time (non-exempt only) for the time missed.
  3. If conditions are such that employees should not report to work, employees will be advised via announcements over local radio and television stations.  In this case, the employee will be paid for the normal time they would have worked during the closure.

Procedures When Severe Weather Occurs During Working Hours

  1. If severe weather emergencies develop during the work day but the University remains open for operation, employees should contact their supervisor or designated representative for permission to leave work.  Work time for those leaving early will be charged to vacation, compensatory time, or dock time. 
  2. If severe weather emergencies force cancellation of classes and work schedules during the day, employees can leave to go home, unless they are considered essential personnel.  Employees are eligible for pay for those hours normally worked during the period of closure.

University Student Workers

Student workers are expected to coordinate absences with their supervisor.  Student workers who do not work during advisories or closures will not be paid.  Supervisors should consider rearranging work schedules when possible so student workers will be able to make up lost work time.

Students are to report to classes as scheduled unless they are canceled.  Students should review the attendance policy as stated in the Illinois State University Undergraduate Catalog if they are unable to attend a class due to severe winter weather.

Special Circumstances

Extension Classes

Extension classes are canceled upon agreement of the College Dean and the Extended University office by noon if possible.  The instructor who becomes aware of severe winter weather situations affecting operation of an extension class should request that the Dean of the College consult with the Extended University office to determine whether to cancel the class. 

Weather at the extension site and roads traveled by the instructor and students will be assessed and closures determined on a site-by-site basis.  Instructors should have a phone tree established by the first night of classes so as to notify the contact person at the remote site and request a note be posted at the classroom.  This information is ordinarily not put on local radio so as not to cause confusion with the on-campus classes.

University Laboratory Schools

The Director of Laboratory Schools has the delegated authority with approval of the Provost or designee to cancel classes at University High School and Metcalf Elementary School.  The Laboratory Schools Director will make closure announcement directly to local news media and to a representative of the Medial Relations staff.  When the Laboratory Schools are closed but the University is open, designated building support staff is required to report to work.  All other non-designated Civil Service staff, under the direction of the building Principal, will not report to work unless the building Principal approves that option. 

Those employees not reporting to work will not be paid unless they use accrued vacation or compensatory time.  Since the schools are required to make up the days lost for school closings, the Civil Service staff on academic year contracts will have the opportunity to make up the lost time.  In the event the University cancels classes or modified work schedules due to severe winter weather, the Laboratory Schools will follow appropriate University guidelines identified in this policy.


The University Library will remain open if other administrative offices are open for business.  Based on a recommendation of the Dean of Libraries, with concurrence of the Provost, the University Library may be open for business even when other administrative offices are closed due to severe winter weather.

Miscellaneous Items

If severe winter weather requires alteration of class schedules during the return to campus by students after any break, statewide radio stations will be utilized to disseminate information on cancellations and closure.

All questions from news media about the status of work and/or class schedules should be directed to Media Relations/News Service.

If necessary, an Incident Operations Center will be established in the Conference Room of the Office of Human Resources during periods of severe winter weather.

If the University is closed, University Housing Services will, if possible, provide food and housing for "emergency/weather-essential personnel" who are required to stay on campus.

Facilities Management/Grounds Management will attempt to clear all sidewalks and parking lots by 8:00 a.m.

Media sources generally notified by News Service are:



Office of Environmental Health and Safety

Initiating body: Office of Environmental Health and Safety

Contact: Director, OEHS (309-438-8325)

Revised on: 12/2002

2018-01-29T14:19:10.35-06:00 2018