Winter weather is here, and we wanted to provide you with information about how university officials make the decision whether or not campuses will remain open or close for weather concerns.
In rare cases, extreme weather may necessitate a decision to cancel all classes and events and close offices on all campuses, or operate on a delayed schedule during winter conditions. However, the university’s goal is to remain open when possible, in consideration of tuition already paid by students and the university’s mission.
Living in Colorado means living with snowy weather. Unless weather is extreme and street crews are unable to keep up with clearing the snow, the university will likely stay open.
This story provides information about:
- how weather and emergency closure decisions are made,
- how students and employees can learn about closures,
- and what individuals can do if campus is not closed and they are unable to safely get to a campus.
Who makes the decision?
The Public Safety Team gathers information and makes a recommendation to the President regarding whether to stay open, delay the start of classes, close mid-day, cancel evening events and classes, or cancel all activities.
The Public Safety Team and President consider the following information:
- Local school district status. CSU does not automatically close if local school districts close. K-12 students are not adults and have different safety considerations than college-aged students and university employees.
- The status of the city of Fort Collins and Larimer County offices and operations, including the operating status of the city bus system.
- City of Fort Collins Emergency Management recommendations.
- Road conditions to and from campus from within the city and county, as well as road conditions on Main, South and Foothills campuses.
- The condition of campus parking lots and sidewalks, including if Facilities Management has been able to adequately clear most areas.
- Assessments by CSUPD and CSU Facilities Management of safety on campus such as tree damage, sidewalks, etc.
- Personal assessments. Members of the Public Safety Team actually get out on the streets, even during early morning hours, and drive their neighborhoods or to Main Campus.
When overnight storms are a factor, employees tied to the Public Safety Team start gathering information in the early hours of the morning and generally come together on a conference call by 5 a.m. to review information.
Safety is the primary concern in making these decisions, with the understanding that winter storms are common in Colorado and that if the majority of students and employees can safely travel to campus. However, individual students or employees who cannot travel safely should use sound judgment and make arrangements with their professors and supervisors. More information about making accommodations is further down in this email.
Individual departments or colleges do not have the authority to close down university operations. Events may be canceled at the discretion of event planners.
When is the decision made?
Administration aims to make the decision by 5:30 a.m. for overnight storms. On rare occasions, some circumstances push the decision to a later time.
During daytime storms or emergencies, safety officials keep tabs on conditions throughout the day and continually assess conditions. If conditions deteriorate to merit a closure discussion, a conference call is scheduled for as soon as possible to discuss an early closure or other options.
If the university is closed, can I still be on a campus?
Employees and students who do not live on Main Campus are asked to leave campuses once the university is closed. This allows facilities crews to more readily clear snow from parking lots and roadways as it accumulates. Some employees are required to report to a campus even if the university is closed; otherwise, employees are encouraged to stay home.
How are students, faculty, and staff notified?
The university notifies employees and students through a variety of means:
- CSU official social media sites (Facebook and Twitter) including CSUPD and main university sites
- SOURCE story
- An university wide email (This email is sent to all employees and students; individuals cannot opt out of this email. Distribution may take several minutes to hours, depending upon demands on local technology, but generally reaches all subscribers within 15-20 minutes)
- A university text alert
- Employees may sign up via Administrative Applications and Resources portal. Click on “emergency text alerts” under the resources tab
- Students can sign up via RamWeb
- Local and Denver news media (including the Coloradoan, Collegian, Denver TV channels, local radio stations)
- CSU status line at 970-491-7669
**Please note that it may take 10-15 minutes for all news media, the status line and other notification methods to be updated once the decision is made.
University employees with emergency duties should check with their supervisor about whether they are expected to report to work even if the university is closed.
When is a decision made to re-open the university?
The decision to re-open campuses will be made by the President with information from the Public Safety Team, based on weather and road conditions. If the university is currently closed and weather conditions improve during evening hours, a decision to reopen the next day may be made that evening, or before 5:30 a.m. the next day, depending upon the weather forecast and available information.
What should I do if campuses are open and I cannot make it to work or class?
If you are a student, it is your responsibility to make accommodations with all of your professors and instructors to be excused from class prior to your absence.
If you are an employee, it is your responsibility to make timely accommodations with your supervisor. Employees who cannot safely travel to work during adverse weather and who are not authorized to work from home or who cannot work from home should use annual leave or leave without pay if annual leave is not available.
How can I report an accessibility issue or area that needs additional snow removal?
Facilities Management strives to remove snow from sidewalks, parking lots and streets by 7:30 a.m. after an evening or early morning storm when the university is open. If a storm is moving in during operating hours, Facilities Management crews regularly shovel routes during the day. Snow is removed and ice melt is applied according to priority routes across campus, including vehicle, pedestrian, bike and transit routes, with a focus first on the most traveled sidewalks and streets. Some routes may be more clear of snow than other routes in the morning hours, particularly if snow falls during business hours and crews are making their rounds. Please use caution when walking and driving to campus, and wear appropriate clothing and shoes.
Areas of concern, including accessibility issues created by snow, should be reported to Facilities Dispatch at 970-491-0077. Please do not contact the university grounds crew or other Facilities Management employees directly; they may be away from their phones working to clear campus of snow.
Important information for employees
Who should still report to work if campuses are closed?
Some employees may be required to report to work because their job functions include maintaining or protecting the health, safety, or physical well-being of students, faculty and staff, such as police officers, some facilities employees, those caring for certain research laboratories, or employees providing dining services to students. Employees should ask their supervisor for information about their designation.
All other employees should please leave campus in a timely fashion. In many cases, this is essential so that snow crews and others can clear lots and address safety concerns needed to get the campus open again.
How is employee leave handled during a university closure?
- When campuses are closed, administrative leave is granted to regular employees for their scheduled work hours during the period of closure.
- Regular part-time employees who are normally scheduled to work when a closure occurs are given paid administrative leave for the scheduled work hours.
- Temporary (including retirees hired into temporary positions) and student employees are not eligible for paid leave during a closure.
- Employees who are already on approved annual, sick, or other type of leave when a closure occurs are not eligible for paid administrative leave for their scheduled work hours during a closure.
Employees who are required to work are:
- Required to work during a university closure are to be paid at the regular rate for hours worked.
- Required to work during a university closure but do not report to work or leave work early without authorization will not be granted administrative leave and must use annual leave or leave without pay to cover the absence.
- Not required to work or are released early during a university closure will be granted paid administrative leave.
How is leave handled when campuses close early or opens late?
- Regular employees are granted paid administrative leave and released under the guidance of the department head or supervisor.
- The amount of administrative leave granted for sequential/staggered release or early closure is based on the official time of release authorized by the President.
- Regular shift employees are granted paid administrative leave for their normally scheduled work hours occurring after an official university closure.
- Early release time not authorized by the President is charged to annual leave or leave without pay, unless alternate work arrangements or options are approved by the appointing authority.
- Regular employees are granted paid administrative leave if the delay occurs during their scheduled work hours.
- Regular employees who arrive late to work beyond the delayed opening due to extreme weather conditions may be granted administrative leave if their supervisor determines that the lateness was reasonable.
May employees take leave during extreme conditions prior to or in the absence of an official university closure?
Employees should use their discretion in deciding whether they can safely commute to and from work. Employees may request time off prior to and in the absence of an official closure of university campuses. With supervisor approval, and if the employee is unable or not authorized to work from home, employees must take annual leave or leave without pay if no annual leave is available. Supervisors are encouraged to be flexible in authorizing annual leave for employees in these situations.
Are alternate work arrangements available during extreme weather conditions prior to or in the absence of an official closure?
A supervisor may determine that an alternate work arrangement, such as telecommuting, could be used during extreme weather conditions. Alternate work arrangements must be approved by the supervisor.
Contact your supervisor or MyHR at 970-491-MyHR (970-491-6947).
updated Oct. 23, 2020; originally posted November 2, 2015