Published November 11, 2019
The days are getting shorter and the air is getting crisper. That can mean only one thing: Winter is on the way.
And when the snow and ice do arrive, UB’s main priority will be to continue business as usual, with snow removal teams working around the clock to clear and salt campus roadways, parking lots and sidewalks.
This year, real-time GPS tracking has been added to all 36 pieces of snow removal equipment to increase efficiency and ensure that the campuses’ snow-removal needs are met, says Joshua Snyder, interim assistant director of building and grounds in University Facilities.
Cancelling classes, exams and activities is disruptive to UB’s academic calendar. But if conditions become unsafe and there’s a change in scheduled operations resulting in class cancellations or delays, UB faculty, staff and students will be informed through a variety of communication channels, including UB Alert, UB websites and the media.
The crisis communication plan that is used in the event of an emergency on campus — such as a fire or gas leak affecting large portions of the campus — also kicks in to inform members of the university community of a change in scheduled operations due to adverse weather conditions that result in class cancellations, an early departure or a request that only essential employees report for work.
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 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 website. In addition, the UB Alert message is posted on the UB emergency website, UB homepage, MyUB, UBNow and UB NewsCenter.
UB Guardian, a companion app to the UB Alert system, is another tool in UB’s emergency notification resources.
UB Guardian can receive UB Alert push notifications about weather and emergency situations. The app will not automatically deliver UB Alerts via text message, however, so all faculty, staff and students who have not already done so are encouraged to also register for UB Alert text and email messages.
UB also notifies the community of campus closures 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 regional weather and 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, as well as the weather forecast.
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 report to work.
Non-essential employees who do not work must charge the time to personal leave credits, vacation, compensatory time or leave without pay. Anyone who does not have sufficient accruals may borrow from future accruals. More information for employees is available here.
Students often have questions about what to do if they can’t safely travel to campus during severe weather. According to UB policy, students are not penalized if they can’t make it to class or work due to severe weather conditions. However, they must notify their professors and make arrangements to complete all assignments. Information for students is available here.
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 severe weather.
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, compensatory time or leave without pay.