October 29, 2009 12:00AM
Long before the leaves began to change and thoughts of winter returned, PSU administrators were thinking about a new inclement weather policy. The policy, which includes the provision for closing the campus, will go into effect this fall.
Historically, the university has very rarely closed because of bad winter weather. Depending on this winter's weather, that may be about to change.
"If this is a typical winter, it is possible we may decide to close the campus as a matter of safety for students, faculty and staff," said President Steve Scott. "Another option is that we may want to delay the opening of the campus in order to clear parking lots and sidewalks."
The president pointed out in the past there were times that although the university officially remained open, great numbers of class cancellations by individual faculty members essentially closed the campus.
The new policy, which will be posted on the Web site this week, outlines a process which begins with an assessment of weather and road conditions by the vice president for administration and campus life. Based upon the vice president's recommendation and in consultation with the provost and the vice president for university advancement, the president will then make a decision about implementation of the inclement weather policy. The president's options include closing the campus completely; keeping the campus open, but canceling classes; or keeping the campus open and holding classes as scheduled.
Communication with faculty, staff and students regarding initiation of the inclement weather policy will use traditional broadcast media, bulk e-mail, emergency text messaging and the PSU Web site.
John Patterson, vice president for administration and campus life, said an identified group of employees will be expected to report to work to perform snow and ice removal, maintenance of boilers, police, food service, and other essential services. Non-exempt and exempt employees who earn annual leave who perform essential services shall be eligible for compensatory time (hour for hour) in addition to pay for hours worked during the Declaration. Employees who are not expected to report will receive regular pay.
President Scott said he knows the decision, whether it is to close or remain open, will not be an easy or sometimes popular one.
"The weather is unpredictable. It can be snowing in Pittsburg and clear in Parsons and the forecast may change dramatically in just a few hours," Scott said. "We will make these decisions together with the best information we have at the time. We probably won't always be right, but we will always base these decisions on what we think will keep our students, faculty and staff safe."