Inclement Weather FAQ
What is defined as inclement weather?
Inclement weather can include any kind of extreme weather, usually snow or ice, which might create hazardous driving conditions or significantly impair normal operations at the University of Arkansas. Inclement weather also may include severe thunderstorm activity, tornadoes, flooding or other natural perils.
How does the university respond to inclement weather?
In general, the University must continue certain operations during periods of inclement weather due to the needs of students, the requirements of ongoing research activities, and other factors. However, the university has a policy on inclement weather, which clearly defines how such declared days impact faculty and staff (see the Inclement Weather Policy page). Generally, there are three possible responses to incidents of inclement weather:
- Delayed opening. During a delayed opening, University officials will publicly announce the specific time at which the University will open. This policy only affects students, classes, and "non weather or event essential" employees who will be allowed to report to work by the designated opening time.
- Early Dismissal. In the event of an early dismissal, the University will cease all academic classes and regular business operations at a publicly announced time. This policy only affects students, classes, and "non weather or event essential" employees who will be dismissed to go home.
- Closure of offices and business operations. In the event of a closure, all day and evening classes will be cancelled. All offices and regular business operations will be closed. Students, faculty, and "non weather or event essential" employees should not report to campus that day.
What should employees know about declared inclement weather days?
Under a delayed opening, the delayed opening time will apply to University classes, offices and regular business operations and will be determined with each incident of inclement weather. Employees who are not identified as "weather or event essential personnel" are expected to arrive at work by the designated opening time; if they do so, they will not be charged for late arrival. Employees arriving after the designated time will be charged the full amount of time that they are late, and employees who do not come to work will be charged a full day's absence. Employees whose shift begins after the delayed opening time should report to work as regularly scheduled. Employees identified as "weather or event essential personnel" should report by their regularly scheduled start time regardless of the announced delayed opening, unless otherwise advised by their supervisor. "Weather or event essential personnel" arriving after their scheduled start time will be charged the full amount of time that they are late, and employees not coming to work will be charged a full day's absence.
In the event of an early dismissal, the designated early dismissal time for University classes, offices and business operations will be determined with each incident of inclement weather and followed consistently. Employees who are not identified as "weather or event essential personnel" will be dismissed to go home and will not be charged any leave for the balance of the employee's work day. Employees who leave earlier than the designated dismissal time will be charged leave for the full amount of time that they are absent prior to the dismissal time and employees who do not come to work will be charged a full day's absence. "Weather or event essential personnel" are expected to remain at work as regularly scheduled, unless otherwise directed by their supervisor. Employees who have not been identified as "weather or event essential personnel" who have shifts beginning after the designated early dismissal time should not report to work.
If inclement weather conditions warrant a decision to cancel classes and close offices and regular business operations, employees who have not been designated as "weather or event essential personnel" should not report to work. "Weather or event essential personnel" are expected to report to work as regularly scheduled, unless otherwise directed by their supervisor.
Are extra-help hourly employees eligible for inclement weather pay?
Extra-help hourly employees who miss work due to inclement weather will not be paid for time missed, unless the inclement weather has affected the operating status of the University for the time they are scheduled to work. If the University has a delayed opening, early dismissal, or closure due to inclement weather, extra-help hourly employees will receive inclement weather pay as defined in the policy, unless they are designated as “weather or event essential.”
What is meant by "the full amount of time that they are late" when an employee arrives after the designated opening time?
The employee will be charged leave for their absence beginning at the designated opening time until the time they arrive. For example, if the designated opening time is 10:00 a.m. and the employee arrives at 10:30 a.m., they will be charged ½ hour leave.
If I had received prior approval to be absent from work on an inclement weather day, will I receive inclement weather leave with pay (IP)?
Employees who are not scheduled to be at work on an inclement weather day will not receive inclement weather leave with pay. The absence should be charged to annual or sick leave as appropriate.
How do I know if my position is defined as weather or event essential or non weather or event essential personnel?
Individual departments are responsible for designating "weather or event essential personnel" and ensuring that all such employees are aware of their responsibilities. These duty areas might include positions in facilities management who assist with snow and ice removal, personnel working in residence halls, or employees performing important services in the Arkansas Union. Individual staff members who are uncertain of their designation as essential or non-essential during inclement weather should consult with their supervisor.
I live an area that is particularly hazardous to drive through during inclement weather. What should I do if I can't make it into work?
Employees should make every attempt to get to work within the bounds of their personal safety. Faculty and staff who face particularly dangerous hazards in transit to work during inclement weather should consult with their supervisor before inclement weather strikes. Depending on the circumstances surrounding an individual's responsibilities on campus, it may be possible to arrange for making up lost time or using annual leave when weather conditions prohibit an individual from traveling to campus for a regularly scheduled shift.
How does the university decide to remain open, delay opening, or cancel classes and close business operations?
In the event of inclement weather, the University recognizes the need to address how such conditions may affect the overall operations of the institution. In general, the University of Arkansas Police Department and Razorback Transit authorities check road conditions in the early morning hours when inclement weather is expected to occur. Conditions are reported to university administrators who discuss via conference call whether the university should delay opening or cancel classes and close business operations. They make this determination based on the following four criteria:
- designated university transit bus routes are open to travel;
- major commuter parking lots are accessible;
- Interstate 540 from County Line Road in Springdale to West Fork city limits is open for travel, and;
- conditions appear to be such as to allow students, faculty and staff to reach campus.
Details on the university's policy for weather emergency procedure can be viewed on the Weather Emergency Procedure page.
Will the university make the decision to remain open, delay opening, or cancel weekend classes and business operations?
Yes. The procedures are similar to the decision-making process for Monday through Friday operations. Details can be viewed on the Weather Emergency Procedure page.
How do I find out if the university delays opening or cancels classes and closes business operations?
The university's primary means for communicating emergency information to students, faculty and staff - including information on weather-related delays, closure of non-essential offices and cancellation of classes - is the Inclement Weather Notification. All students, faculty and staff are automatically enrolled in Inclement Weather Notification, which will issue alerts via web, e-mail and voice mail, and also via SMS text messages to those who provide mobile phone numbers.
In most cases where decisions on the university operating status can be made in the overnight and early morning hours, information on weather-related delays or closure of non-essential offices and cancellation of classes will be made via Inclement Weather Notification by 6 a.m. Further details on the process and timeline for weather emergency decisions can be viewed on the Weather Emergency Procedure page.
In addition to Inclement Weather Notification, the university employs secondary communication methods to aid in disseminating weather related closures, delays or other emergency information through the following sources. These sources are activated after Inclement Weather Notification, and should not be relied upon as the most timely and accurate information sources, since some of these sources further down the list are outside the university's direct control:
- Weather information hotline: individuals may call 479-575-7000 for recorded announcements about the university's operating status;
- university home page: in the event inclement weather affects the university's operating status, a graphic link to detailed information and policies will be placed prominently on the university's home page;
- university switchboard: the switchboard, at 575-2000, provides information about the university's operating status when inclement weather strikes; this number often may be busy due to volume;
- KUAF radio, 91.3 FM: the university's public radio station makes regular announcements if the university's operating status is impacted, and assists in correcting errors in external media announcements;
- UATV: the university's student-run television station manages the RIBTV Information Board in the early morning hours and makes announcements regarding the university's operating status;
- university supervisors: supervisors can arrange to notify employees in their unit, or employees can call supervisors for instruction;
- External media: local radio and television stations will be informed whenever the university's operating status is affected, but should not be relied upon as a primary source of information.
If the university cancels classes for the day and closes business operations, when does it officially resume normal operations again?
Normal University operations, including all academic classes and business operations, will commence at the regularly scheduled time on the next work day.
Why doesn't the university close when local school districts close?
Local school districts build snow days into their annual schedules and must make decisions that involve the transportation of small children - often across rural bus routes. Universities, on the other hand, are essentially residential communities, where students depend on the campus to provide essential services like food and shelter. Because of this, the campus never actually "closes" since it must support the students who live in the residence halls.
Who is responsible for snow and ice removal on campus?
Multiple departments across campus coordinate to remove snow and ice from sidewalks, roadways, parking lots, and building entrances. Specific information about these departments, including prioritized areas of snow and ice removal, can be found in the university's Snow and Ice Response Plan (Adobe PDF).
Are there other weather-related emergency procedures I need to know, such as severe thunderstorms and tornadoes?
It is not uncommon for severe thunderstorms in northwest Arkansas to produce localized flooding, tornadoes and strong straight-line winds. In the event of a tornado threat, the campus is equipped with sirens that will go off if a tornado has been reported in the area. If a siren is heard in connection to a weather emergency, individuals should follow the tornado drill procedures appropriate for their location at the time. If an individual does not know the tornado drill procedure for their workplace, they should consult with their instructor or supervisor.
General tornado safety tips include:
- Do not go outside;
- Seek shelter immediately in an interior hallway or a lower floor, away from windows;
- Get under sturdy furniture if available;
- Stay indoors until the all-clear signal is transmitted through the campus siren or other emergency notification system.