Officials Clarify Bad Weather Procedures
Posted: December 6, 2002 at 1:00 am, Last Updated: November 30, -0001 at 12:00 am
By Daniel Walsch
Officials representing each of George Mason’s campuses, led by Senior Vice President Morrie Scherrens and Provost Peter Stearns, have clarified the university’s procedures for deciding and announcing weather-related schedule changes. The following points were agreed on.
- The decision on whether to close the university will be based on the condition of campus roads and parking lots and the surrounding main arteries.
- Each year, the university’s inclement weather policy and procedure will be communicated to the entire university.
- When Mason opens late, the opening time will coincide with class and/or exam schedules. In addition, to reduce possible confusion, a precise opening time, such as 10 a.m. or 11 a.m., will be announced rather than a statement such as “George Mason University will open two hours late.”
- The changing of messages on Mason’s main information line will be kept to an absolute minimum to further reduce possible confusion.
- Under “liberal leave,” any employee may charge an absence to annual leave or other available balance without advance supervisory approval if weather conditions make the commute to work too hazardous even though the university is still open.
- “Essential employees” refer to those employees required to work during emergency closings because their positions have been designated as essential to their specific operations.
- When it comes to decisions about weekend classes, Mason will follow the same procedures to which it adheres throughout the week.
- For the sake of clarity and consistency, each of Mason’s three campuses will follow suit as much as possible when it comes to closings and/or delayed openings. However, the university recognizes that at times all the campuses will not close or open at the same time because of weather patterns.
- When Mason announces that classes for the day are cancelled, the following message will be communicated to the media and placed on George Mason’s main information line: “Classes at George Mason University are cancelled for the day, and only essential employees are to report to work.”
- The American Type Culture Collection (ATCC) and the Freedom Center at the Prince William Campus will make their own decisions and announcements regarding closings and/or late openings.
- On inclement weather days when Mason remains open while other institutions are closing or opening late, no external announcements will be made. Only internal announcements will be made.
- Regarding closings or late openings, every attempt will be made to have the decision made by 6 a.m.
- The Office of Human Resources is responsible for maintaining and running Mason’s internal snow tree. The snow tree is triggered when a decision is made by the senior vice president and/or provost to close the university early. The snow tree operates as follows: (1) the Senior Vice President’s Office calls Human Resources with the decision; (2) Human Resources calls all academic and administrative units or offices at each of university’s campuses; (3) the Senior Vice President’s Office contacts the Office of Media Relations; and (4) the Office of Media Relations contacts Information Services, the Information Technology Unit, and the external media.
- Academic deans and departmental chairs will ask faculty to discuss the university’s inclement weather policy with their classes and make known their own expectations and plans of actions, including review of how students will be informed of weather-related decisions such as via e-mail or posting notes on classroom doors.
- When the weather is bad but the university remains open, some students may be unable to get to class because of treacherous conditions. Faculty should take this into consideration.
- Academic departments should make every effort to inform students when an individual faculty member is unable to make it to campus because of inclement weather.
- If the federal government does not close, federal contract courses will be held.
- On days of early closings, external groups sponsoring events complete those events at their own risk.
- Coordinators of events for the Patriot Center, Johnson Center, Center for the Arts, and SUBs I and II at the Fairfax Campus; the Professional Center at the Arlington Campus; and the Freedom Center, the Verizon Auditorium, and ATCC at the Prince William Campus are responsible for making all decisions affecting the schedule of their events and activities that involve external groups and/or renters.
- When appropriate, the Office of Events Management will include in contracts with external groups and/or renters a clause stipulating that if the university closes on days their events are scheduled, then their event will automatically be cancelled. This decision also covers events and activities at the Johnson Center and SUBs I and II at the Fairfax Campus, the Professional Center at the Arlington Campus, and the Verizon Auditorium and the Freedom Center at the Prince William Campus. When possible and appropriate, Events Management will identify an alternate day for events scheduled between September and March of each academic year.
Inclement Weather Procedures
The following procedures will be followed during inclement weather:
Cancellation of Classes or Late Openings (This procedure applies to weekdays and weekends. Options include (1) cancellation of classes and only essential employees report to work or (2) cancellation of classes but employees report to work; however, liberal leave may be used. These decisions are made on a day-to-day basis.)
- The chief of police and the director of Physical Plant collect all pertinent information by contacting state police, highway officials, and point persons at the Arlington and Prince William Campuses. In addition, the chief of police and the director of Physical Plant maintain current information on all major events or activities occurring at Mason.
- They contact the senior vice president and provost to share all relevant information and discuss the possible cancellation of classes for the entire day.
- If the decision is made to cancel classes or delay the opening, then the director of Physical Plant contacts the director of Media Relations.
- The director of Media Relations and designees pass along the decision to the manager of Information Services and to all pertinent media outlets.
Early Closings (This procedure applies to weekdays only.)
- The chief of police and the director of Physical Plant collect all pertinent information, as stated previously.
- They contact the senior vice president and the provost to share all relevant information and discuss closing early.
- If the decision is made to close early, then the Office of the Senior Vice President contacts the assistant vice president for Human Resources and the director of Media Relations. The assistant vice president for Human Resources is responsible for triggering the university’s internal snow tree, while the director of Media Relations is responsible for contacting the manager of Information Services and all pertinent media outlets.