Interim Policy Formalizes Protocol for Campus Closures, Class Cancellations

While it is the policy of the University to remain open and operating at all times, there are situations where weather conditions or other emergency situations make the ability to maintain regular class schedules and/or operations challenging. Keeping students, faculty and staff safe during extreme weather conditions or other emergency situations is a top priority for the University. 

To further this goal—and to reduce confusion among students, faculty and staff when such situations arise—the University has adopted an interim University-wide Closure and Class Cancellation Policy. The policy establishes clear standards for University-wide class cancellations and closures.

What’s covered by the policy

The University-wide Closure and Class Cancellation Policy is available on the Office of Policy Development and Management website.

For the rare instance(s) that the entire University is closed, the policy establishes the roles and responsibilities of University members (including administrators, faculty, students and staff) and essential personnel, describes how announcements will be communicated and provides guidance around academic activities that take place on and off campus.

The policy establishes requirements and responsibilities for each group in instances when the University is not closed during extreme weather or other emergency situations. 

  • Faculty: If the University remains open and faculty members and other instructors are unable to meet with scheduled classes, they must contact their school or department to inform them that the class is canceled because of their inability to arrive on campus. Instructors must follow guidance provided by their respective dean in these instances.
  • Students: If the University remains open and students are unable to arrive for a scheduled class, they should contact the faculty member or instructor for that class. It is the responsibility of the school or department to establish a plan for communicating to students in such a situation.
  • Staff: If the University remains open and staff employees are unable to arrive for their regular shift, they should contact their supervisor or follow established departmental protocol for communicating work absences.

The policy states that deans, faculty, instructors, supervisors and others with similar authority should honor the reasonable use of personal discretion by their students and employees. Channels for reporting potential noncompliance with this standard are also listed in the policy.

Why an “interim” policy?

The interim policy was developed to provide clear standards in the short-term, beginning this fall term. The scope of the policy extends beyond the former policy on Extreme Weather Conditions to cover all types of emergency situations that could impact University-wide operations. 

Over the course of the past year, valuable feedback about the previous policy on Extreme Weather Conditions was provided by University community members, including graduate and undergraduate student government boards, faculty and staff shared governance councils, deans, athletic department representatives and other Pitt community members. 

Stakeholders from the offices of the Provost, Student Affairs, Human Resources, Public Safety and Emergency Management, as well as the University Senate representatives, came together as a working group to develop an interim policy that reflects these learnings. The working group was guided throughout the process by the Office of Policy Development and Management.  

In accordance with the established process for new and revised policies, a committee will be engaged to begin the development of a long-term policy. University Policies are developed and revised using a thorough process that includes engaged participation of University shared governance and open comments from students, faculty and staff. 

Sources for communications and information

News of campus-wide closings or cancellations will be available in a variety of ways: