|Emergency Closing Policy
|Office of the President, Office of the Provost, EVP/CFO, Human Resources Department
|Faculty, Staff, Students, Others
|All campuses except UConn Health
|August 30, 2023
|August 31, 2023
|For More Information, Contact:
|Office of Faculty & Staff Labor Relations and the Department of Human Resources
|(860) 486-5684 or firstname.lastname@example.org
(860) 486-3034 or email@example.com
During inclement weather and other emergency situations at the University of Connecticut, the safety of our students, faculty, and staff is paramount. At the same time, the University has very important research, teaching, service, and outreach missions, and must maintain continuous and effective business operations. With due consideration to safety, the University will remain open and operate normally to the greatest extent possible. Faculty, staff, and students should evaluate their own circumstances carefully, exercise appropriate judgment, and take responsibility for their safety when making decisions during inclement weather.
The purpose of this policy is to provide direction to the University community in the rare circumstances when the University Administration decides to cancel classes; delay opening, release employees early, or close operations at some or all University campuses. This policy also explains how employees will be notified of the University’s decisions and clarifies expectations regarding attendance and performance of job-related duties. The policy applies to the entire University community, including administration, faculty, staff, and students, at all campuses except UConn Health.
Decisions to alter the University’s normal operations and schedule for all campuses are made jointly by the President’s Office, Provost’s Office, Executive Vice President and Chief Financial Officer (EVP/CFO), and the Head of Human Resources. Decisions about such alterations are made with full input from Public Safety and Facilities Operations and Building Services for all campuses. Careful consideration will be given to the particular conditions and circumstances at each campus, and decisions will account for variations that may exist among the situations at different campuses.
When the University is open and operating normally, all employees are expected to make every effort commensurate with their personal safety to be at work. Individual academic departments and administrative units are not permitted to close and release employees. Those decisions will be made on a university-wide basis. Departments, regional campuses, and units may cancel special events they sponsor at their discretion and are responsible for communicating such cancellations.
If an emergency occurs that may require an adjustment in work schedules for an individual unit or small number of units (such as a power outage or flood in a single building), employees should work from another location if possible. Supervisors must obtain permission from the President’s Office, Provost’s Office, and Executive Vice President and Chief Financial Officer (EVPA/CFO), as appropriate, before releasing employees from work for more than a short period of time.
The University will make announcements about closings or delayed openings as soon as feasible, and generally no later than 5 a.m. When conditions change rapidly or unexpectedly, however, the University may need to make or update decisions about classes and business operations on short notice.
UConn’s Alert website, alert.uconn.edu, is the definitive source of information about the University’s operating status. All announcements regarding changes to the University’s operating schedule will be posted to this site as soon as decisions are made.
In addition to the Alert website, text message alerts may be issued regarding closings, cancellations, early dismissals, or delays. UConn community members should register to receive the University’s text message alerts at https://www.alert.uconn.edu/.
Community members may also call the University’s 24-hour emergency closing information number, (860) 486-3768, to check the University’s operating status for all campuses. Second and third shift employees are urged to call this number for information.
Individual units are responsible for communicating decisions about whether any special events they sponsor are postponed or canceled. Community members should contact the sponsoring units directly for information about such events. This applies to athletic events, performances, conferences, lectures, presentations, workshops, and other events hosted by a sub-unit of the University.
Expectations for Employees
This section summarizes the information applicable to:
- All Employees (except essential/emergency support services staff)
- Faculty/Class Instructors
- Essential/Emergency Support Services Staff
All Employees (except essential/emergency support services staff)
When the University is open and operating normally, employees are expected to report to work. During inclement weather, employees are expected to plan accordingly, including accounting for extra time needed to travel to and from work. If an employee decides not to remain at or report to work because of concerns about travelling safely, employees may use vacation, personal, or other accrued time without advance approval. Employees must promptly notify their supervisors in these situations. Employees who anticipate concerns may discuss in advance the possibility of flex time or telecommuting with their supervisors.
When the University directs employees not to report to campus during a closing, delay, or cancellation, employees will not be charged leave unless their time off was already scheduled and approved. If an employee is on a scheduled day off due to sick leave, vacation, personal time, earned time, or leave of absence without pay during an official University closing, delay, or early release, the employee’s time will be charged accordingly.
Since employees who are not on a pre-approved leave during a closing would normally be present at work, employees are expected to be accessible and responsive to their supervisors as needed during their regularly scheduled work hours. Supervisors may require that employees check and respond to email regularly, respond to work calls, or attend virtual meetings, and may expect that assigned work that can be accomplished remotely is completed on time regardless of emergency cancellations. Likewise, supervisors may make reasonable adjustments to be able to continue University business, including holding meetings by teleconference and handling normal business by email, and employees who would normally be present at work may be required to participate.
All faculty at all campuses must abide by the University’s decision to remain open. If the University does not cancel classes, faculty are expected to hold classes as scheduled, except in circumstances when a faculty member determines that they are unable to travel safely to campus. In these exceptional cases, the faculty member must notify their dean and department head and must also notify all students in the class. Faculty must not cancel class prior to the University’s decision about whether the University will alter its normal schedule. Faculty may elect to hold classes virtually using online methods.
Only the instructor of record for a class may decide to cancel a class. Teaching Assistants may not make independent decisions to cancel classes or other activities related to classes; they must consult with the faculty member for the course.
Instructional time that is cancelled is expected to be made up in accordance with the By-Laws, Rules, and Regulations of the University Senate. The University’s academic calendar includes specified “emergency closing make-up dates.” Faculty who plan to use these times to make up class must inform students as soon as possible and reserve a classroom through the Registrar’s Office. Faculty may also make up classes at other times but must be sensitive to students’ availability to attend.
Faculty should respect the decisions of commuting students who decide not to travel to campus, or to leave class early in order to get home safely, and provide options for them to make up missed work. The Dean of Students Office is available to assist faculty and students with concerns about missed work.
Essential/Emergency Support Services Staff
Operations including public safety, residential and dining services, health services, animal care, facility maintenance, information technology services, student support services, transportation, and other important services may be required to continue even in severe weather or during other circumstances that require the University to cease other operations.
The University may designate employees as “Essential” employees (also known as “Emergency Support Services Staff”) if it determines their job functions are necessary or potentially necessary to conduct the University’s business even when the University is not operating normally. Employees designated as essential are typically expected to report to or remain at work when the University has a delayed opening, early release, or closure.
Individual Departments determine which, if any, of their employees are essential. Further, Departments may require all essential employees to report during any closure. Alternatively, Departments may develop a procedure that limits the number of essential employees required to report based on the nature or duration of the closure, the nature of the functions the Department performs, and the level of staffing needed. This approach is typically implemented through an “on call” notification system or a rotating assignment.
Departments are responsible for notifying essential employees annually of their designation. Employees hired into positions that are essential are first notified of their designation at the time of hire. In addition, the business needs of the University may change in ways that require other employees to be deemed essential even if they were not designated so at hire. In such cases, the Department will notify affected employees at the time of their designation. By October 1st of each year, Departments with essential employees must provide a list of these employees to the Office of Faculty and Staff Labor Relations and the Department of Human Resources.
Unless provided in the applicable collective bargaining agreement or authorized by the Governor, the University is prohibited from awarding compensatory time or extra compensation to essential employees for working during their regularly scheduled hours when the University has a delay, early release, or is closed.
Violations of this policy may result in appropriate disciplinary measures in accordance with University By-Laws, General Rules of Conduct for All University Employees, applicable collective bargaining agreements, and the University of Connecticut Student Code.
RELATED PROCEDURES AND POLICIES
Time and attendance procedures for employees and supervisors are posted on the Payroll Department website at www.payroll.uconn.edu.
Requirements with respect to instructional time and making up time are defined in the By-Laws, Rules, and Regulations of the Senate (http://policy.uconn.edu/2011/05/19/by-laws-rules-and-regulations-of-the-university-senate/) and the University’s Credit Hour Policy (http://policy.uconn.edu/2012/08/22/credit-hour).
Policy adopted: October, 2012
November 26, 2014
August 27, 2015
August 30, 2023 (Approved by the Senior Policy Council and the President)