Published November 14, 2013
Thanksgiving is just around the corner, and that means lake-effect snow is not far behind.
And when the squalls descend and weather conditions become so severe that UB cannot operate effectively, the university will use a number of communication channels to inform faculty, staff and students of a change in scheduled operations resulting in class cancellations, an early departure or a request that only essential employees report for work.
The crisis communication plan that is used in the event of an emergency on campus — such as a fire or gas leak — also kicks in to inform members of the university community of a change in scheduled operations due to a severe snow or ice storm.
The key element of the plan is UB Alert, the university’s official crisis communication vehicle. This system sends emergency messages to everyone who has a UB “.edu” email address. UB Alert also sends text messages to cellphones and email messages to the alternate email addresses, such as a Gmail or Hotmail account, of those who have signed up to receive these additional messages. Members of the UB community may sign up via the UB emergency information website.
UB also will notify the community of a change in scheduled operations via traditional media outlets — local radio and television stations — and the 645-NEWS hotline, as well as on the university’s social media sites, among them UB’s Facebook page and the UB Alert Twitter feed.
UB officials point out that a decision to cancel classes and request non-essential employees to stay home is made after determining local road conditions, the ability of bus service to provide transportation within and among the campuses, and the ability to keep the campus roadways and parking lots open.
Once such an announcement has been made, only essential employees who provide services related to the health and safety of students, faculty, staff and guests, as well as facility maintenance and security, are required to report to work. Supervisors determine and notify those employees who are considered essential to university operations.
All other employees are expected to stay away from the university until conditions return to normal.
However, UB officials stress that just because employees are asked not to report to work does not mean it is a free day off for those who are not required to work.
Non-essential employees who do not work must charge the time to personal leave credits, vacation or compensatory time. Anyone who does not have sufficient accruals may borrow from future accruals.
Only the governor can officially declare that UB is closed and only he can authorize employees to remain away from work without the use of leave credits. In all other cases, a UB employee must charge this time not worked to vacation, personal leave or compensatory time.