Severe Weather Closure

Policy Approval Authority President
Responsible University Office Office of the President - University Administrative Services
Responsible Officer(s) Chief of Staff
Contact Person Matthew Streb
Primary Audience Faculty
Status Active
Effective Adoption Date 05-01-2018
Last Review Date 11-14-2022
Policy Category/Categories Campus Safety / Security

Severe Weather Response Options

As a general rule, the university is always open. With the exception of certain designated essential service personnel, it is the personal responsibility of all faculty, staff, and students to make their own decisions and judgments concerning travel conditions and the danger of attending classes or coming to work under conditions which they personally believe to be unsafe.

When severe weather warrants suspension of some or all campus activities, the following generally occurs:

Regular online classes continue to meet as usual. Face-to-face classes attempt to continue in an online modality or cancel as necessary. Faculty are responsible for communicating with their students about the status of their classes and are asked to be flexible with attendance.

All services and offices remain open virtually and employees who can do so should work remotely, except for employees who work in essential service operations.  Essential services are those designated by the divisional vice president and are generally defined as critical to 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. Additional details about the Essential Service Protocols and Suspension or Closure of University Operations Pay and Benefits can be found in the policy library. Employees who do not work in essential service operations should not report for in-person work. Provisions of Collective Bargaining Agreements will be applicable with respect to negotiated staff.

Those employees who normally are not able to work remotely and do not work in an essential service operation should complete tasks or professional development as assigned by their supervisor during regular work hours. Examples of professional development tasks can be found on the HRS website.

All hosted events should be canceled or moved to a virtual format unless permission is received from the President’s Office to go forward with the event.

In rare instances, an emergency closure of campus may occur. In that case, all classes are canceled, including those taught online; all offices and facilities are closed; and except for specifically selected employees working in the essential service operations described above, employees would not be expected to work. All hosted events should be canceled. 

Weather Forecasting

The Meteorology Faculty Consultant (MFC) provides the President’s Chief of Staff with a weekly weather report on Sunday of each week between November and March. Weather reports are updated as needed depending on changing weather conditions. Although weekly reports are not provided by the MFC from April through October, the MFC is expected to notify the President’s Chief of Staff if severe weather appears likely during those months. 

The MFC follows the NIU Severe Weather Model for School Closures (SWM) when making recommendations to the President’s Chief of Staff. 

Remote Operations/Closure Decision Process

When the SWM score ≥50 is determined OR at least one of the following triggers are met, a Preliminary Weather Assessment call will be initiated with the Campus Closure Advisory Group (CCAG).

  • Negative 10 degree temps
  • Negative 30 degree wind chill
  • >2” snow event
  • Any freezing rain condition
  • 40 mph wind gusts

The CCAG is comprised of the following individuals:

  • President’s Chief of Staff (chair)
  • Executive Vice-President & Provost
  • Vice President for Administration and Finance
  • Associate Vice President for Facilities Management and Campus Services (AVP for FMCS) (advisory)
  • Chief of Police or designee (advisory)
  • MFC (advisory)

The MFC is expected to provide an updated weather report. The AVP for FMCS is expected to provide an update on current conditions on campus. The Chief of Police or designee is expected to provide a report on the conditions of local roads and interstate highways.

The executive vice president/provost finalizes decisions about class modality adjustments and presidential authorization is required for a move to remote operations or full closure.

Closure Notification Process

When a decision has been made to either be open only remotely or to close the campus, the President’s Chief of Staff notifies the designee from Institutional Communications and Internal & Web Communications.  Information concerning the operational status of the university during severe weather events will be posted on the university’s Severe Weather Information page, which provides detailed information in the event of a change in operational status at any of the university’s campus locations. Specific notices regarding severe weather will only be posted on the NIU Home Page or NIU’s official Facebook and Twitter accounts in the event of a change to virtual services or an emergency closure.

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