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Be prepared

Plan for class, work disruptions due to inclement winter weather

Campus and Community

By Sandy Woolfrey-Fahey

Newfoundland and Labrador is known for its intense, and sometimes dangerous, weather.

Snow, ice and wind can create challenging conditions from November until spring.

Three shovellers on the front steps of a beige brick building
More than 500 doors are shoveled out on St. John’s campus during post-storm cleanup efforts.
Photo: submitted

Memorial’s top priority during these times is to maintain essential operations and services, particularly for on-campus students. However, extreme weather sometimes means delayed openings or full-day closures to reduce the risks for individuals who travel to campus.

The university has a plan in place to keep you informed of cancellations and closures, but only closes under extreme circumstances.

Deciding to close

The decision to cancel on-campus classes and labs or to close campuses in the Avalon region is made by the university president (or their designate) who gets advice from several university units such as Facilities Management (FM).

FM works closely with weather forecasters, provincial government departments including the Department of Transportation and Infrastructure, Metrobus, College of the North Atlantic, English School District, and others as weather systems develop and then provide this information to the president.

Cancellations at Memorial’s facilities outside the Avalon region, including Grenfell Campus, the Labrador Campus (including the Nursing Skills Lab), Faculty of Nursing sites in Gander and Grand Falls-Windsor and Marine Institute locations in Lewisporte and Stephenville, are handled by those units.

Closure communication

The university has a plan in place to keep you informed of cancellations and closures, but only closes under extreme circumstances.

Memorial University does not issue announcements regarding opening as usual. If Memorial does not issue a closure message by approximately 7 a.m., it means the university will open as usual. Memorial only issues announcements regarding delayed openings or early closures.

MUN Safe is the primary communication tool to inform campus communities of weather-related closures and emergency information. All university community members are encouraged to download the app; ensure your campus is selected and your phone is set to receive notifications from MUN Safe. If you have a new phone you should delete and download the MUN Safe app again to ensure proper function of notifications.

With respect to a closure of the university’s facilities in the Avalon region, cancellation notices should be understood to include all faculties, schools, units and on-campus activities in that region, including the Memorial University Childcare Centre, the Centre for Nursing Studies, Signal Hill Campus and the Marine Institute’s locations in St. John’s, Foxtrap and Holyrood. As a separately incorporated entity, The Works is not considered a part of Memorial University for the purposes of early closure/delayed opening messages and will issue its own notifications.

Early closures during the day are announced at least one hour in advance. Advisories for late openings and all-day closures are typically issued by 7 a.m.

Yellow snow plow clearing snow

For life safety reasons when campus is closed, buildings should be considered closed and unless required to be on campus individuals should not come to campus. For instance, emergency exits in closed buildings may not be clear.

If inclement weather happens on weekends, holidays or after hours, the responsibility to share event cancellations rests with organizers, while keeping in mind that snow clearing may have reduced service after hours.

Metrobus shares notices to customers if they plan to stop service due to declining weather. Customers can sign up for text alerts by texting Metrobus to 88188.

For employees

The university is committed to keeping campuses as safe and accessible as possible for those who must access campus.

Employees who normally work on campus and have not been instructed to report to work, as well as employees approved to work remotely, are not required to work during a university closure.

As a reminder, all academic and administrative units are required to have up-to-date business continuity plans. Leadership teams should review plans and consider whether updates are required.

Teaching and learning

In the event of a campus closure, on-campus classes and activities are cancelled.

Students and instructors will be able to access remote and online courses via Brightspace, and unless individual instructors advise their students otherwise, all remote and online course activities and deliverables will continue as scheduled.

Instructors are asked to discuss with their students in advance how they will communicate any adjustments to their schedule.

If adverse weather leads to widespread power outages in the region, the university will announce both restrictions to campus access as well as suspension of online classes.

A decorative clock post and buildings are barely visible in blowing snow and darkness.

Be prepared and stay safe

Off-campus students, faculty and staff are encouraged to prepare a 72-hour emergency kit that includes fresh water, non-perishable food and flashlights. It’s also important to ensure you have appropriate clothing to stay warm and footwear for safety. Drivers should have a small shovel and a snow clearing brush to ensure they fully clear vehicle windows before driving once it’s safe to do so.

Pedestrians should always wear bright, reflective clothing and drivers and pedestrians should always exercise caution when driving or walking near operating snow equipment.

Prepare a 72-hour emergency kit that includes fresh water, non-perishable food and flashlights.

If you encounter an issue that could present an accessibility or safety challenge report it using the report feature in the MUN Safe app and provide as many details as possible.

Individuals encountering accessibility challenges can call Campus Enforcement and Patrol’s non-emergency number at 864-8561 for immediate assistance.


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