2020-21 Severe Winter Weather and University Closure Procedures

With many employees working remotely and a reduced number of face-to-face classes, we expect winter weather to have less of an impact on an employee’s ability to perform their job responsibilities this winter than in previous years. Supervisors should continue to be flexible as employees working from home fulfill child and/or eldercare responsibilities. Please review the information below regarding the university’s procedures for severe weather and employee reporting expectations during those times.

University Operations During Winter Weather Conditions
Over the winter months, weather conditions can develop which require the university to consider the status of operations. Factors considered include the weather forecast, snow removal, class cancellations, students who must stay on campus and maintenance of necessary services.

The decision to declare an emergency weather suspension of campus operations (including class cancellations) is a consultative process involving several administrative areas responsible for the safety and operations of the university. The provost finalizes decisions about class cancellations and presidential authorization is required for an emergency weather closure of the university.

As a rule, the university is always open and campus operations remain in effect (except for classes canceled by individual faculty members). During severe winter weather that warrants suspension of some or all campus activities, two options are generally possible:

  1. Some classes are canceled at one or more NIU campus locations to which weather has prevented travel.
    Online classes continue to meet as usual. Faculty are asked to be flexible with attendance and to communicate with their students about the status of their classes. All services, offices and facilities remain open but may operate remotely, when possible. Employees should check with their supervisors for direction on their remote work assignments, as needed.
  2. Emergency closure of campus and all classes are canceled at one or more NIU campus locations.
    Only offices, services and facilities that maintain business operations for NIU, support the physical operations and safety of campus or provide services to our on-campus student population remain open. All classes are canceled, including those taught online; all other offices and facilities are closed.

Employees who work remotely, should continue to do so. Those who do not wish to work remotely may utilize benefits time. Supervisors are encouraged to continue be flexible during such times, as employees who are working remotely may need to be assigned different tasks or may also be caring for children whose school days were canceled or altered.

Employees who work in roles that support the physical operations and safety of campus or provide services to students who remain on campus are required to report to work unless otherwise advised by their immediate supervisor. Supervisors also should extend appropriate and reasonable accommodations to ensure the safety of those employees who must still report for duty.

The university’s administration will work to make the best decision possible concerning general conditions and the overall needs of the campus. However, specific situations and travel circumstances as they relate to individual members of the campus community must be independently evaluated. Employees should always exercise judgment in terms of travel conditions.

Online Weather Status Updates
Information concerning the operational status of the university during winter weather events can be accessed on the university’s Winter Weather Information page which provides detailed information in the event of a change in operational status at any of the university’s campus locations. The page also includes links to the National Weather Service’s Winter Weather Advisories, Watches and Warnings for the area and a list of television and radio stations that broadcast information on changes in operational status at NIU.

Operating hours of several campus units and services during closures and cancellations are posted and updated online.

Specific notices regarding winter weather will only be posted on the NIU Home Page when all classes are canceled at one or more NIU campus locations or in the event of an emergency closure.  Changes in operational status also will be posted to NIU’s official Facebook and Twitter accounts. For the latest NIU Winter Weather Status information, you also can call the NIU Toll-Free Weather Status Hotline at 1-815-753-OPEN (1-815-753-6736).

Employees will be notified via their official NIU email address in the event of campus-wide class cancellations, delayed start times, and/or weather emergency closures at the DeKalb, Naperville or Rockford campus locations as well as via text message from the university’s Emergency Notification System.

Have a safe winter weather season and thank you for your service to our community.

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