Winter returns with no new updates to UW’s weather policy

Winter is now fully upon us, with the first week of the term having some of the coldest days this winter.

Last year, Waterloo experienced one of its coldest days on record, with the wind chill at -41 degrees Celsius, breaking the previous record, which led to an extensive debate about UW’s weather closing policy and what was needed for the school to close.

A year later, no formal changes have been made to the policy (the last change was made in Nov. 2013, which updated the time a notice has to posted by to 6 a.m.).  The policy states that the university will be closed when “normal operation would pose a significant danger to students, staff, and faculty, or would prevent large numbers of them from coming to campus or returning safely to their homes.”

The provost, Dr. Ian Orchard, makes the decision in consultation with the director of police and parking services, the director of communications and public affairs, and the director of custodial and grounds services.

Nick Manning, director of media relations and issues management, spoke of the culture change that has taken place since last year.

“The conversation is very much one that values the safety of individuals primarily, so while the policy has changed to reflect an earlier notification of the closure, what we have also developed is [an approach that] means that we will improve communication around weather safety and extreme weather events to make sure that the campus community has information.

“[We will] make sure that they know and always [be] reminding them ways in which they can communicate with people about what accommodations they may feel they need to have in order to be safe,” Manning said.

Manning noted that anyone concerned about their safety when coming to campus because of inclement weather should speak to their professor, advisor, or supervisor. 

“Where individuals feel by coming to school they will be jeopardizing their safety, they [should] have that conversation with those involved, whether it is a faculty adviser, a professor, or a supervisor, someone of authority.”

If the campus is closed due to inclement weather, a notice will be posted on the website at 6 a.m., as well as carried on various local radio stations. Any test or exams are cancelled and will be rescheduled, while deadlines for assignments are postponed until the same hour on the next business day on which UW is not closed.