This online version is for convenience; the official version of this policy is housed in the University Secretariat. In case of discrepancy between the online version and the official version held by the Secretariat, the official version shall prevail.
Approving Authority: President
Original Approval Date: March 2, 1994
Date of Most Recent Review/Revision: August 4, 2022
Office of Accountability: Office of the President
Administrative Responsibility: University Secretariat
1.01 The purpose of this policy is to set out the process for closing the University due to severe weather.
2.01 Employee: means a person who performs work for wages in any capacity for the University.
2.02 University Facility/Facilities: means all buildings and grounds, owned, leased or operated by the University, including without limitation outdoor playing areas, athletic and recreational fields and all University residences and housing.
2.03 Essential Services: are defined as services that are necessary to enable the University to assure the health and safety of its employees and students; preserve critical infrastructure, minimize serious environmental damage, and, continue the delivery of administrative functions required to support core organizational priorities. See section 4.08 for more details.
2.04 Severe Weather: refers to conditions such as ice, fog, rain, sleet, snow, wind and/or frigid temperatures and wind chills with the potential to cause damage, serious social disruption, injury to or loss of human life.
2.05 Asynchronous Learning: when students are interacting with course materials online, but are not expected to do so at the same moment as the instructor or other students. They can access readings, videos or other course resources, post to online discussion forums, or other course resources and within MyLearningSpace.
2.06 Synchronous Learning: learners and instructor are engaged in learning at the same time. This can happen online (using Zoom or similar technology) or in a face-to-face environment. Synchronous learning is scheduled, so students know when they are expected to be ‘in class’.
2.07 Remote Work: work that is performed by an Employee from an Employee’s place of residence, or from a remote location, where the Employee is not physically present at the University.
3.01 This policy and related procedures apply to all students and employees of the University, with the exception of those who provide Essential Services, as detailed in section 2.03 and 4.08. This policy applies whether the disruption occurs on weekday or weekend.
4.01 The University or individual campuses and locations will close because of severe weather when normal operation would pose a significant danger to students and employees at the University or specific campuses and locations or would prevent many from safely coming to the campuses and locations or returning to their residences in surrounding areas. Decisions on closing are made in a campus-/location-specific basis. There will be situations in which only one or some of the campuses or locations are affected and other campuses and locations can continue with normal operations.
4.02 The decision to close various locations will be made by the following individuals based on input regarding ability to maintain operations and current and forecasted local weather conditions:
a. Waterloo campus: the President or designate;
b. Toronto: the President or designate in consultation with the Provost and VP Academic or designate;
c. Brantford campus: the Senior Executive Officer (SEO) or designate in consultation with the President or designate;
d. Milton office and related academic programming: the President or designate in consultation with the Provost and VP Academic or designate;
e. Yellowknife: the senior Laurier employee in the office;
f. Other locations: Buildings where Laurier programming or operations takes place in Kitchener and Waterloo will close whenever the Waterloo campus closes. Decisions for other owned/leased spaces will be made by the President or designate.
4.02.01 When it is safe to do so, access will be maintained to University Facilities as required under contract (e.g. leased premises).
4.03 The University may close University Facilities for the morning, afternoon, or evening, or for the entire day. In each case, the closure announcement will communicate the reopening time, which may be revised in the event of ongoing severe weather.
External Relations will communicate the University’s decision based on established communication protocol, including internally by email, SafeHawk app and the University intranet, and externally by the Laurier website, social media, and local news media. The closure announcement will communicate the reopening time, which may be revised in the event of ongoing severe weather.
4.04.01 In the absence of a communicated decision to close, the University remains open and all activities continue as planned.
4.05 When the University or individual campus or location is closed it means that:
4.05.01 All in-person academic activities and Synchronous Learning activities are cancelled. This includes but is not limited to all in-person and online course instruction. Instructors may choose to reschedule classes or provide access to Asynchronous Learning activities for courses. Please see procedures document for more details;
4.05.02 All meetings and other scheduled in-person events are cancelled; if operationally feasible and the desire to do so exists, the organizers of such non-academic meetings or events may choose to hold their events virtually;
4.05.03 All athletic programming is cancelled. Programming cancellations at the Laurier Brantford YMCA will be determined and communicated by the Laurier Brantford YMCA;
4.05.04 Final examinations (including those delivered online) are cancelled. Faculty members and academic departments do not have the authority to make exceptions. Final examinations will be rescheduled by Enrolment Services and communicated directly to students;
4.05.05 Synchronous midterm examinations (including those delivered online) are cancelled. Faculty members and academic departments do not have the authority to make exceptions. Midterm examinations scheduled outside a regularly scheduled class will be rescheduled;
4.05.06 Deadlines for assignments and other submissions for all Laurier courses are postponed until the same hour on the next business day that the University is open; and,
4.05.07 Employees, other than those needed for Essential Services (see section 4.08), are not expected to perform work in-person but should conduct their work remotely if operationally feasible and in consultation with their supervisor. Flexibility will be provided for employees with family care or other limitations related to the severe weather event that may impact their ability to perform work remotely.
4.06 When the University or individual campus or location remains open in severe weather:
When the University does not close in severe weather, the University will strive to ensure the safety and accessibility of University Facilities. Individual circumstances may vary and, when the University remains open in severe weather, those who judge that it may be unsafe to come to campus should discuss alternate work and study arrangements with their manager or instructor. Paid leave options may be available to employees in accordance with their applicable collective agreement or handbook.
4.06.01 Cancellation of classes and/or examinations without closure of the University
There may be occasions when weather conditions are such that the University stays open, but it is deemed appropriate to cancel classes as well as other scheduled meetings with students (e.g. laboratories, tutorials, tests, exams etc.). A decision to remain open but cancel classes and/or final examinations will be made by the Provost & Vice-President Academic.
4.07 Personal safety
When the University does not close in inclement weather, faculty, staff and students are reminded that they are responsible for determining when weather conditions make their travel unsafe and should consider public transportation because it may be the safest option.
4.08 Essential services
Even when the University is closed, some services must be maintained for the care and for the protection of life and property of those who live on campus. The following units provide Essential Services which are to continue in operation when the University is closed:
a. Special Constable Service;
b. Food Services (as required under these circumstances);
c. Facilities and Asset Management;
d. Animal Care Facility; and
e. Other essential services may be designated by the President or designate.
4.08.01 The managers responsible for these services will designate staff to provide essential services and will ensure that staff are available to provide essential services.
4.09 Remuneration on severe weather days
If the University closes, University employees scheduled to work during periods affected by closure shall be paid in accordance with the applicable collective agreement or handbook, or in accordance with the Employment Standards Act, 2000. A staff member who is on approved vacation, sick leave or unpaid leave, or who is not scheduled to work on a day when the University is closed, is not entitled to equivalent time off later.