Policy Information

Date Established: 2/19/2007
Date Last Revised: 6/29/2017
Category: 
Administration and Governance
Responsible Office:
UB Emergency Management
Responsible Executive:
Vice President for Finance and Administration

Policy Contents

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Change in Scheduled Operations Policy

Summary

Under certain emergency conditions, it may become necessary to change scheduled operations or close* the university. This policy provides guidance for timely decision making and communication to disseminate information about a change in scheduled operations.

Policy Statement

The University at Buffalo (UB, university) requires scheduled operations to continue as long as possible, essential university services to be maintained, and university employees to remain on duty when necessary to perform essential services even under extraordinary emergency circumstances. However, when conditions become so severe that the university cannot operate effectively, the President (or designee) may make a decision to change scheduled operations resulting in class cancellations, an early departure*, or a closing*.

* Only the governor can officially declare that the University at Buffalo is closed or direct early departure and only the governor can authorize employees to remain away from work without charge to leave accruals. A declaration of emergency, even by the governor, does not automatically mean the closure of the university.

Recommendation to Change Scheduled Operations

A recommendation to change scheduled operations will be made to the President as follows:

  • by 5:30 a.m., if information about impending emergency conditions is available at the beginning of the day
  • at least 90 minutes prior to a change in scheduled operations at other times of the day
  • immediately, if conditions are severe.

Essential Services and Personnel

Services related to the health and safety of students, faculty, staff, and guests, and the security and maintenance of facilities are essential and must continue in spite of severe conditions.  

Employees from departments including but not limited to University Facilities (e.g., Heating Plant, Chilled Water Plant, snow removal, Environment, Health and Safety), University Police, Division of Student Life, Animal Care, Campus Dining and Shops, and others who maintain the university’s essential services, provide food for residents, and clear the parking lots and roadways may be required to remain on duty or make every effort to report to work unless directed or permitted to do otherwise.

Departments are required to:

  • conduct a detailed analysis of their services to identify the services that must continue during the emergency or resume soon after an event, based on the nature of the emergency
  • identify essential employees based on the nature of the emergency
  • notify essential employees of their responsibility to remain at or report to work in the event of a change in scheduled operations
  • approve an alternate work arrangement (e.g., telecommuting) to support university activity and meet the business needs of a department during a change in scheduled operations
  • develop a department communication plan to notify appropriate individuals of a change in scheduled operations.

Employee Absences

In accordance with New York State policy, employee absences resulting from a change in scheduled operations including class cancellations, early departures, and closings must be charged to appropriate leave accruals. An employee who does not have sufficient leave accruals may borrow from future accruals. Only the governor can officially declare that the University at Buffalo is closed and only the governor can authorize employees to remain away from work without charge to leave accruals. The campus will contact the State University of New York (SUNY) System Administration Office of Employee Relations before taking any action to direct employees to leave.

Members of the campus community are expected to use their best judgment in assessing the risk of coming to campus and returning home based on individual circumstances during an emergency. Any person who reports to work will not be deprived of the opportunity to work. If it is determined during the course of a workday that the university cannot operate effectively, employees are not required to leave at that moment; employees may leave then or any time thereafter. Only the time that an employee is absent is charged to leave accruals.

There is no guarantee that those employees who arrive at the campus or those who stay after a change in scheduled operations announcement will be able to work at their usual work places.  Adequate supervision may not be available or the building in which the individual usually works may not be open. Provision should be made for alternate campus work locations and alternate work for those who do get to the campus but who cannot go to their regular work places or cannot perform their regular work assignments.

Change in Scheduled Operations - Considerations

The decision to change scheduled operations resulting in class cancellations, an early departure, or a closing is based on various factors including, but not limited to:

  • hazards that represent a risk to the safety of any member of the campus community
  • regional weather conditions
  • equipment failures or disruption of utilities
  • travel bans or restrictions implemented by local jurisdictional government agencies
  • contamination by hazardous materials
  • ability to keep the campus facilities, roadways, and parking lots open
  • acts of violence or terrorism
  • directives issued by the Governor’s Office of Employee Relations.

There may be instances when emergency conditions require a change in operations for only one campus (North, South, or Downtown). In these instances, the communication plan will ensure widespread coverage of the information to applicable stakeholders. Consideration will be given to the nature of the emergency and any protective actions issued by local, county, or state government agencies.

Resuming Operations

In the event of a delay or cancellation of classes or events, the decision to resume scheduled operations will be made by the President and announced to the campus community using the communications plan. Key internal and external stakeholders will make a recommendation to the President based on full or partial restoration of UB’s operational capabilities and the effects of the emergency that resulted in the change in scheduled operations.

Communication Plan

The university is committed to providing timely and accurate information to faculty, staff, students, and the Western New York community. The communication plan includes various communication methods to ensure widespread coverage of the information.

A change in scheduled operations including class cancellations, early departure, and closing announcements will be made on one or more of the following:

  • UB Alert – UB Emergency Alert System
  • all campus email (faculty, staff, and students), as appropriate
  • www.buffalo.edu – UB homepage
  • www.emergency.buffalo.edu – UB emergency page
  • www.buffalo.edu/aboutmyub - MyUB, web-based personal portal
  • www.buffalo.edu/now - UB faculty-staff newspaper
  • local broadcast media (radio and TV)
  • 1620 AM – campus traffic radio broadcast
  • 716-645-2345 – University Police campus condition phone line
  • 716-645-NEWS (716-645-6397) – UB information phone line
  • official UB social media accounts

Background

The university recognizes the need to:

  • prepare for unexpected situations or respond to weather that may require a change in scheduled operations
  • identify the decision-making hierarchy for such changes
  • ensure timely notification to students, staff, faculty, visitors, and the local community
  • confirm the responsibilities of essential employees in the event of a change in scheduled operations.

Applicability

This policy applies to all university employees, students, visitors, guests, and operations.

Definitions

Essential Employee

An employee who has been deemed necessary by their supervisor and is expected to report to or remain at work during a change in scheduled operations. Employees who are deemed necessary may vary depending on the conditions.

University Closing

Only the governor can officially declare that the University at Buffalo is closed or direct early departure and only the governor can authorize employees to remain away from work without charge to leave accruals. A declaration of emergency, even by the governor, does not automatically mean the closure of the university.

Responsibility

President or Designee

  • Make the decision to change scheduled operations.

Students, University Employees, Guests, Visitors

  • Listen to announcements for information regarding a change in scheduled operations.
  • Use sound judgment and consider all conditions when determining if it is safe to come to or leave campus.

Departments

  • Conduct a detailed analysis of department services.
    • Determine which services must be continued during the emergency or resumed soon after an event.
    • Review the Comprehensive Emergency Management Plan (CEMP) for information about specific emergency scenarios.
  • Identify essential employees based on the nature of the emergency.
  • Notify essential employees of their responsibility to remain at work or to report to work in the in the event of a change in scheduled operations.
  • Approve an alternate work arrangement (e.g., telecommuting) to support university activity and meet the business needs of a department during a change in scheduled operations.
  • Develop a department communication plan.
    • Test the plan and communicate to all appropriate individuals.

Human Resources

  • Inform the SUNY System Administration Office of Employee Relations before taking any action to change scheduled operations.

Contact Information

UB Emergency Management
252 Capen Hall
Buffalo, NY 14260
Phone: 716-645-3134
Email:  jayroor@buffalo.edu
Website:  http://emergency.buffalo.edu

Related Information

University Links

History

July 2017

Full review. Updated the policy to:

  • change the name of the policy from Change in Scheduled Operations – Policy and Communication Plan to Change in Scheduled Operations.
  • include the timing of a recommendation to change scheduled operations to the president
  • include a requirement for departments to conduct a detailed analysis of their services and determine which services must be continued during the emergency or resumed soon after a disaster event
  • provide departments with the authority to approve an alternate work arrangement (e.g., telecommuting) to support university activity and meet the business needs of a department during a change in scheduled operations
  • include a requirement for members of the campus community to use their best judgment in assessing the risk of coming to campus and returning home based on individual circumstances during emergencies

Presidential Approval

Signed by President Satish K. Tripathi

Satish K. Tripathi, President

6/29/2017

Date