Perspective on ...
Winter weather has arrived.
There is difficulty inherent in making the perfect call for the entire university community so far in advance. The process of making a closing or delay decision begins at about 5 a.m., when the police chief, facilities leadership and I evaluate a number of factors related to the operation of an institution as large as ours. It is possible that a delayed opening may be the best course of action; in some cases and over some time, a closing may become the best course of action to take. I encourage you, whenever the weather becomes questionable or when you are in doubt, to keep alert to communications coming from whatever channel you choose to remain apprised of weather-related closing information. This can be from a departmental phone tree, FlashALERTS or on our Web site, or television and radio stations.
Snowfall amounts and road conditions will usually vary substantially across the region served by Kent State. In determining whether to cancel classes, our primary focus is on the Kent Campus and the major roadways in close proximity. Please exercise your best judgment when determining whether it is safe for you to drive from your home to your campus.
Campus closings throughout the Kent State system have already taken place this calendar year. I commend all of our staff who assisted in getting the word out to staff and the general public about these closures.
There are numerous ways of learning about campus closings. One 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. Another communication channel 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.
Another 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.
I encourage you to sign up for Flash ALERTS if you have not done so.
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.
As with the closings in January, a special edition of Management Update was distributed the Monday morning after the closings occurred. This special edition informed supervisors on how to account for employee time as a result of the closings. If closings take place in the future, look for this type of communication again as circumstances warrant.
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.
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