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Responding to winter weather

With winter’s arrival, Dan Langham and David Patterson plan to monitor the weather conditions as closely as any meteorologist.

[Winter Campus Scene]
University officials consider a variety factors when determining the operational status of the university during times of inclement weather.

That’s because Mr. Langham, the director of Environmental Health and Safety, and Mr. Patterson, the director of Campus Security and Emergency Services, play key roles in the university’s inclement weather response procedure. The information they gather helps senior administration decide the status of university operations during times of inclement weather.

“We look at a range of factors that could impact the safety of faculty, staff and students while on campus and while travelling to and from the campus,” says Mr. Langham. “Deciding to reduce the operation levels at the university and cancel classes is a major decision so it’s vital we provide as much information as possible to the senior administration.”

When Mr. Langham and Mr. Patterson learn about a potential overnight storm, they inform the Provost and Vice-Principal (Academic) and the Vice-Principal (Finance and Administration) about the possibility of a conference call early the next morning to decide the operational status of the university. Mr. Langham and Mr. Patterson report on:

  • Environment Canada forecasts;
  • Accessibility of campus roadways and parking lots;
  • Status of public transportation;
  • Operational status of other local institutions, businesses and services, and road and highway conditions; and,
  • Road and highway conditions for the Kingston area.

The Provost and Vice-Principal (Academic) and the Vice-Principal (Finance and Administration) make the final decision on the university’s operations based on the information they are provided. A decision is made by 6 a.m. The same process is followed when the storm develops during the day, with a decision about the status of the university coming no later than 3 p.m.

The university communicates its operational status during inclement in a number of ways. An updated message is recorded on the Queen’s status phone line (613-533-3333), and a weather alert notice is posted at the top of the Queen’s homepage (www.queensu.ca), and a tweet is sent from the Queen’s Twitter account. University Communications also notifies the local media. When there is a change of status during the day, additional steps are taken including departments communicating the information in their work areas and a list serve email distributed to all computer users on campus.

Inclement weather may make it difficult for employees to get to work even though the university is maintaining normal operations. Employees are expected to notify their department head if they are going to be late or absent because of the weather conditions. The university will not penalize an employee if a genuine effort is made to get work. Employees are normally given the option to make up the missed time, use vacation leave, use lieu time if applicable or take leave without pay. More information about the university’s inclement weather policy.