Purdue revises severe weather procedures

November 30, 2011

WEST LAFAYETTE, Ind. – Purdue University on Wednesday (Nov. 30) issued its 2011-12 severe winter weather procedures,  which include several changes related to timing, definitions and road closures.

The goal will be to announce any decision that affects the suspension of classes or work by 5:30 a.m. whenever possible, said Carol Shelby, Purdue's senior director for environmental health and public safety. If weather conditions prompt the suspension of classes and/or all but essential operations, the information will be sent to the Purdue community by email and text and also will be posted on the university's home page. In addition, local media will be informed.

Tippecanoe County, in which Purdue is located, also revised its severe weather policy,  which, in turn, applies to the university community. The county commissioners have established two classifications - a watch and a warning - that limit road travel. A travel "watch" permits driving on the road only for essential purposes, such as commuting to and from work. A travel "warning" closes the roads to all but emergency vehicles.

"Anyone working in a county that has issued a travel warning should not drive on those roads," Shelby said.

Purdue President France A. Córdova or her designee decides when to suspend classes or other campus activities, based on input from Timothy Sands, executive vice president for academic affairs and provost, and Al Diaz, executive vice president for business and finance, treasurer. In turn, they rely on others across the university, including Shelby, in collaboration with local law enforcement, mayors, county commissioners and emergency management personnel.

They will consider the temperature, forecast, wind speed, ice hazards and the condition of roads, parking areas and sidewalks.

"Students and faculty should discuss what expectations will be if classes are suspended," Sands said. "Students may, for example, submit assignments electronically or receive assignments or instruction by email or Web."

In some instances when classes are suspended, employees are still expected to come to campus - if they can do so safely and legally - because they can park in garages and have shorter distances to walk than most students.

"Those who can't safely come to campus should work with their supervisors to determine if work can be done from home or if it would be more appropriate to take paid vacation or other permitted leave," Shelby said.

Even when most employees are told not to report to campus, those who have essential functions do come to work. Essential personnel are pre-designated by unit heads and involve such areas and services as police, fire, utilities, snow removal, housing and food service, and those needed to prevent irreparable harm to research and mechanical systems. These employees are expected to make arrangements in advance to ensure they can get to campus or use campus housing.

In the past decade, Purdue has suspended classes twice due to weather. On Feb. 1, 2011, snowfall caused Purdue to suspend classes for 24 hours and delay classes until 10 a.m. on the following day. A 2007 snow recess began at noon on Feb. 13 and ended at noon the next day. In both cases, only personnel performing essential jobs reported to campus.

Writer: Jeanne Norberg, 765-494-2084, jnorberg@purdue.edu

Source: Carol Shelby, 765-494-6113, cshelby@purdue.edu