Information about Closure of the Campus in the Event of Inclement Weather
As an educational institution, The College of New Jersey is, by default, open for classes when they are scheduled. However, on rare occasions, TCNJ may close, close early, or delay opening because weather conditions make travel to or from the campus dangerous or because the College’s walkways and parking areas cannot be kept clear and safe from snow, ice, etc.
The decision to close rests with the Provost/Executive Vice President, who reaches a decision after a series of consultations. The decision also must be made in a timely way. In the event of adverse weather overnight, the decision to close or to delay opening is typically reached by 5:15 a.m. and announced by TCNJ’s emergency alert system, website, e-mail, and through the media. When bad weather occurs during the day, the decision is made as soon as the necessary data has been gathered and consultations made. In the case of big storms predicted in advance, the decision-making process begins well before the inclement weather appears.
In the case of inclement winter weather, the factors that are weighed include:
- the amount of snow that is falling or predicted to fall
- icy conditions and whether ice has preceded or is expected to follow the snowfall
- the temperature outside
- the wind (and wind chill) and the expected impact of blowing snow on keeping roads and campus clear and safe
- the conditions of local roads and highways
- whether the snow will be heaviest when many employees and students are arriving or leaving campus (at rush hour, for instance)
- any emergencies that have been called by local or state authorities
- whether a late opening will provide the time for the campus and local areas to clear snow and ice.
The individuals and groups consulted include:
- Campus Facilities, who monitor the National Weather Service, local weather, and other sources for information
- TCNJ’s grounds crew
- Campus, local, and state police and other authorities, including the Mercer County Office of Emergency Management
- Administrators at other nearby institutions who are empowered to make decisions to open or close
- TCNJ’s own Emergency Operations Group, if appropriate.
Notifications of closing or delay are communicated officially through:
- TCNJ’s website: www.tcnj.edu
- Email, text alert and automated phone calls to members of the TCNJ community who have signed up for Text Alerts
- Local media announcements
Poor weather may lead to closing of the campus on a day when classes are not scheduled (e.g., on a weekend). Even in the absence of classes, the College hosts many activities, from sporting events to concerts. When the College is closed, these activities are canceled. Even in closure, certain staff members (e.g., police officers) are considered vital employees and are expected report to work. Staff members should consult their supervisors to ascertain whether they are considered vital employees. Student Affairs plans activities for students when the campus is closed, and the College makes every effort to keep the Library open; consult the College’s website and watch for email announcements for up-to-date information.
A decision to open, delay or close will rarely satisfy all students, faculty and staff. Students on campus who can easily get to class may wonder why the College is closed, while those living off campus question a decision to stay open as they cannot safely navigate roads. Each student and employee must make an individual decision with safety foremost in mind. If the campus is open but a person decides it is unsafe to travel, s/he must contact professors or supervisors to inform them of the decision and to arrange to make up work if necessary. Professors and supervisors, in turn, should expect individuals to make responsible judgments about their personal safety, and should be as flexible as possible in coping with their students’ or employees’ reasonable decisions. Individual faculty members who cannot reach campus safely may need to cancel class when the College is open; they are responsible for notifying their students of their decision. All members of the campus community should understand that a decision to open does not guarantee that all walkways or lots will be plowed, but that the majority are considered clear of snow.
It is important to keep in mind that the decision is made with the safety of people on or coming to the TCNJ campus in mind. No decision can take into account the particular conditions in each locale from which students and employees are traveling. Once again, safety is paramount, and each individual needs to consider personal safety in deciding whether to come to campus. Finally, decisions to open or close are based on weather predictions, which are not always accurate.