Winter Storm Policy
Campus closing vs. cancellation of classes
In almost every case, the decision to be made will be whether classes are to be canceled rather than whether the University will be closed. The University of Wisconsin-Green Bay is a state agency, and an actual campus closing has financial and legal consequences that we will make every effort to avoid.
Who makes the decision?
The decision to cancel classes or close the campus is made by the Chancellor, on the recommendation of the Vice Chancellor for Business and Finance and the Provost. They are advised by the Director of Public Safety, who monitors road conditions in our region and the ability of the campus grounds crew to keep the campus accessible.
What if a faculty member is unable to reach the University to hold a scheduled class?
If an instructor is unable to hold a schedule class because he or she cannot reach the university during a winter storm, the instructor is responsible for notifying his or her students, unit, Public Safety, and Student Information Center. Notification procedures are available below. Students are responsible for checking their campus email accounts for notices of class cancellation. In the event that a student does not have access to email, he/she may call a classmate or the University Information Center at (920) 465-2400.
What are the criteria for making the decision to cancel all classes?
Recommendations to the Chancellor are based on a number of factors. In formulating a recommendation, the Vice Chancellor for Business and Finance and the Provost take into account reports on area road conditions, forecasts of storm continuation, predicted snow accumulations, temperature and wind chill, and the ability of the grounds crew to keep the campus parking lots cleared. One key indicator is whether city streets are open enough to allow continuation of city bus service to the campus. If city bus service is canceled or it appears that there will be trouble getting buses to campus, the Chancellor receives a recommendation to cancel classes.
Who decides whether students, faculty or staff should try to get to campus?
The judgment about whether or not to come to campus rests with the individual. Nobody who feels it is unsafe should attempt the trip. Driving conditions may vary across the wide geographical region served by UW-Green Bay. Individuals need to take their own local conditions into account as they make their judgments.
What should faculty do about students who are unable to reach campus in bad weather?
Each faculty member has authority to determine how missed class meetings should be handled. Bad weather creates additional complications for students who live in outlying areas and students who have children in schools or child-care centers that have closed. Because we are operating in a context where the expectation is that we will try to keep from canceling classes, it would be reasonable for faculty to be flexible in addressing individual student circumstances. In any event, each faculty member should communicate his or her expectations clearly to their students.
Why should the campus set a high standard for canceling classes?
UW-Green Bay does not use the same standard as the public schools for deciding whether to cancel classes. There are significant differences in our circumstances. First, we have a substantial population of resident students. Second, all of our students are adults who can make their own judgment about road conditions. Unlike the public schools, we do not schedule additional instruction days in anticipation of winter storm closings. Finally, our service area is much broader; there may be poor road conditions in some of our communities while others are quite open.
Many faculty fully schedule their course syllabi, leaving little time to complete missed work. On any given day, some faculty members will have assignments due or exams scheduled. Canceling classes for the whole campus would have a high probability of creating complications for many instructors.
Faculty establish expectations for learning at the beginning of the semester when they establish a syllabus. If that syllabus includes scheduled class meetings, then students have a right to expect that those meetings will take place. This is not to say that faculty cannot arrange for alternative forms of learning.
This policy is not based on the assumption that classes must be held — come what may. It is based on the assumption that instructors have a professional responsibility to follow the expectations they have set. Not holding class in the absence of an established alternative creates confusion and bad feeling. Not holding class because students are engaged in an alternative learning experience that has been defined and established in advance is well within instructors' professional purview.
How will an all-campus closing or cancellation of classes be communicated?
If the entire campus is closed or if classes are canceled by the Chancellor, it will be announced over Green Bay radio and TV as part of the standard "school closing" reports. If you do not hear the announcement, it is highly likely that the campus remains open and classes are expected to be taught.
If a decision is made to close campus or cancel classes, an official message will be posted via campus e-mail. If you do not hear of a closing/cancellation on local radio or receive an e-mail message, presume the University will be open for classes and business.
- University Information Center:
- Driving Conditions, WDOT