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Preparing for winter weather

Remote delivery means changes to usual practices

Campus and Community

Newfoundland and Labrador is known for its intense, and sometimes dangerous, weather. Snow, ice and wind can create challenging conditions from December until April.

At Memorial University, this has often meant weather-related delayed openings or full-day closures to reduce the risks of coming to campus. The transition to primarily remote delivery, and the vast number of students, faculty and staff working from home, means that the work and study of fewer members of our community will be impacted by adverse weather conditions that interfere with commuting to/from campus or working on campus.

In the event of inclement weather in fall 2020 and winter 2021, Memorial will announce restrictions on access to its campuses but much of the operations of the university will continue remotely.

Facilities Management will continue their usual snow-clearing protocol to ensure the campuses remain safe and accessible for those who must access the campus, and employees who would typically report to work during a weather closure will continue to do so.

Teaching and learning

Students and instructors will be able to access their remote and online courses via Brightspace, and unless individual instructors advise their students otherwise, all 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.

Faculties and schools with an alternative approach or differing circumstances should communicate details about their procedures for adverse weather directly to students and employees in advance of any weather events. The COVID-19 pandemic has had significant impacts on students, faculty and staff. Remaining flexible and empathetic is essential now as the season of challenging weather conditions approaches.

It is important to recognize that students may be accessing their courses from elsewhere in the province, the country or in the world. During a severe weather event in their locales, they may experience challenges related to weather, access or other personal circumstances. Instructors are encouraged to show academic leniency and flexibility, as has been encouraged since the beginning of the COVID-19 pandemic.

For employees

Employees who have been working on campus this semester but who are not typically required to come to work when a weather event occurs are encouraged to work with their supervisors to identify tasks that can be completed remotely in the event of adverse weather that impacts regularly scheduled activities. Employees with questions or concerns about their individual situations are asked to talk to their supervisors. Supervisors are encouraged to remain mindful of personal circumstances and demonstrate flexibility where possible.

Power outages

In the event of adverse weather that leads to widespread power outages in the region, the university will announce both restrictions to campus access as well as suspension of remote activities.

Decision-making process

This approach was developed and approved through consultations with Vice-Presidents Council, Deans Council, the Administrative Scenario Planning Group and the Department of Human Resources. In making this decision, consideration was given to a number of factors, particularly ensuring safe working conditions and equity among units and employee groups, and minimizing the negative impact that multiple snow days can have on academic programming. It was equally important that approved adverse weather actions could be effectively communicated to the Memorial community, resulting in minimal confusion.

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

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