When winter weather strikes: Resources for the University Park community

UNIVERSITY PARK, Pa. – When severe weather strikes Penn State's University Park campus, individuals can stay informed of delays and cancellations by using Penn State's PSUAlert system, Facebook page, the News website and WPSU TV and radio. Other local television and radio stations also will inform the public.

Employees who perform nonessential services are to report at the announced time, while employees who perform essential services are expected to report as normal. Employees should clarify their status as essential or nonessential with their supervisors before inclement weather strikes.

Classes and activities that begin before any announced delay time are canceled. Classes or activities beginning at or after the announced delay time will be held as originally scheduled. For example, a two-hour morning delay until 10 a.m. due to snow or ice would mean that all classes that begin before 10 a.m. are canceled and will not be held. In this example, classes beginning at 10 a.m. or later will continue on their regular schedule.

Early dismissals

At times, the University may be faced with dismissing early students, faculty and staff who are already on campus from their normal, day-to-day business and classes at Penn State due to approaching severe weather. The need to dismiss early may allow our commuting community to leave before roads become inaccessible.

To facilitate an orderly dismissal, the University will announce the dismissal as early as possible via PSUAlert and other official platforms listed below. The following method for dismissal will be used to release students, faculty and staff:

-- Students will be the first to be released.

-- Faculty and staff members will be released simultaneously 30-45 minutes after the release of students.

Early dismissals will be timed to occur at either the beginning of the hour or 30 minutes past the hour. This two-tiered dismissal should help with the flow of outbound traffic and provide students with an opportunity to exit common areas and the buildings before they are closed.

If there is a fast-moving storm that strikes during hours of normal operation, University officials will attempt to communicate weather information, as well as the expected duration of the storm, so that individuals on campus can make reasonable choices. If the storm is of short duration, remaining on campus may be the best option for some. Other individuals may need to leave work for family reasons.

"Employees and students are urged to make decisions based on their own personal safety and needs," said Penn State President Eric Barron. "The University will be making its decision based on the forecast and our best available information about roadways, sidewalks and travel in general. Individuals sometimes have extenuating circumstances or other factors that may require them to miss work or class, and supervisors and faculty should be reasonable in their expectations when a personal decision surrounding safety is being made."

All employees and students are encouraged to take responsibility for their own safety. Faculty, staff and students should use their own best judgment when considering traveling to campus or the need to leave early during times of inclement weather. Faculty and staff also should review Handling Weather Day Absences (Human Resources Guideline 10) on the Web at http://guru.psu.edu/policies/OHR/hrg10.html for specific information on how time missed for weather situations is handled.

Official information sources

For information on inclement weather, the Penn State community should check WPSU-FM and Penn State News -- the official sources for weather-related delay or cancellation advisories at Penn State's University Park campus. In addition, advisories will be sent directly to cellphones, email, the Penn State Facebook page and Twitter via PSUAlert.  An active Penn State access account is required for users to access PSUAlert and add or change contact settings, such as additional e‑mails and cell numbers for text messages.  Although signup for the PSUAlert system is reserved for students, faculty and staff, members of the public are encouraged to follow alerts from Penn State’s campuses via Facebook and Twitter. Specific links for those who wish to follow PSUAlert messages on Facebook and Twitter are available at http://news.psu.edu/PSUAlert-social online.

For more information about PSUAlert, visit the FAQ.

Operating status at Penn State Altoona and Penn State DuBois also will be aired on WPSU, which broadcasts in those regions. All other campus locations should identify their preferred method of communication before inclement weather strikes and distribute that information to their communities.

WPSU, which airs 24-hour programming, can be heard at 91.5 FM in State College, Bellefonte, Lock Haven and surrounding areas, and 90.1 FM in northern Pennsylvania counties. The station also is at http://wpsu.org and a complete list of station frequencies can be found at http://wpsu.org/about/coverage. Closings are listed at http://wpsu.org/closings. When notified, WPSU will begin its live broadcasting earlier than the usual start time of 5 a.m., and will interrupt regularly scheduled programming to give periodic updates throughout the day or night.

In addition to WPSU, information also will be promptly and prominently issued online at Penn State News -- http://news.psu.edu -- assuming that power and Internet connectivity are not adversely affected by the weather.

Although classes may be delayed or canceled, the University Park campus never really closes. There are 14,000 students on campus that require meals and warm lodging, and there are critical research projects that require constant attention, as well as livestock that must be fed, watered and sheltered. Because of this, it is critical that Penn State effectively maintain services that affect safety and health when snow blankets the area. University Police and other emergency services remain operational around the clock regardless of the weather, as do guest services at both the Nittany Lion Inn and The Penn Stater Conference Center Hotel.

For information on class attendance policies, visit http://handbook.psu.edu/content/class-attendance and http://studentaffairs.psu.edu/health/welcome/illnessVerification/.

Last Updated February 15, 2016