Perspective on ...
Winter weather is quickly approaching.
The warmth of summer is quickly fading, giving way to colder wintery weather in Northeast Ohio. In my role as vice president for finance and administration, part of my responsibility includes final advice on campus cancellations and closures. After consulting with the primary resources guiding these decisions (the Department of Public Safety and Facilities Planning and Operations), the general policy and priorities used in guiding such decisions are as follows.
Staff members at all eight campuses work very hard to keep campus sidewalks, roads and parking lots clear for your convenience. Occasionally, weather conditions may delay classes or result in cancellation of class schedules. Typically, these decisions are made prior to 6 a.m. for morning and all-day cancellations, 10 a.m. for afternoon classes and 3 p.m. for evening classes. In most instances, university services and offices remain open and operate when classes are cancelled. Only when the university is “closed” due to weather are offices closed and some services unavailable. Even in that situation, critical staff members must report to work so that operations needing 24-hour attention are maintained, such as providing essential services for students living in the residence halls.
Supervisors and employees are expected to exercise good judgment during severe weather conditions. Travel conditions may cause an employee to arrive to work late, be absent or leave work early. Employees should notify their supervisors if they are unable to report to work or feel it necessary to leave early for safety reasons.
At times there has been confusion when the Governor’s Office issues a closing order, or when the local sheriffs’ departments have posted snow emergency advisories. Please note that a closing order from the Governor’s Office is issued primarily for state office buildings and other state employees in the field. Colleges and universities do not fall into this category. Sheriffs’ departments issue snow emergency levels ranging from one to three. These orders do not apply to employees required to provide critical functions at their workplace. Kent State’s Department of Public Safety monitors this information very closely and considers all information during a severe weather situation. They are in constant contact with the Ohio State Highway Patrol, local police departments and the National Weather Service to monitor the current and predicted conditions.
There are three ways of learning about campus closings. The first is Kent State’s Advisory Web page available at www.kent.edu/advisory. This page lists any closings across the university’s eight-campus system. The second is through television and radio broadcasts. For a complete listing of all of the television and radio stations to which cancellation information is reported, please visit the Advisory Web page listed above.
The third method is through the general Flash ALERTS message and FlashLine e-mail. The Flash ALERTS message will notify subscribers to check the university’s Advisory Web page for up-to-the-minute reports on campus and class status. Individuals can subscribe to the Flash ALERTS service online.
Kent State’s operations involve special duties that exceed the expectations of private businesses, public schools and even some other colleges and universities. Serving residential students, maintaining the operation of a power plant, keeping roads and parking lots, open as well as attending to research and computer activities are some of the many responsibilities that necessitate that the eight Kent State University campuses remain open if at all possible. At the same time, everyone’s safety is a priority, and good judgment should be exercised during severe weather conditions.
Gregg S. Floyd