Campus Closing Procedures During Emergencies

Under extreme weather conditions or general emergency, the Chancellor may decide to close the campus early or not to open campus offices and departments, provided that "essential services" will be maintained. This memorandum provides general information and guidance regarding emergency leave.

Under the Inclement Weather Policy for the State of Colorado, each college and university establishes its own individual inclement weather policy. Therefore, the Boulder campus closure decision may on occasion differ from the decision for state offices. Boulder campus employees and students are expected to comply with instructions provided by the University of Colorado Boulder administration.

For the purposes of these procedures, "regular employee" is defined as a full-time or part-time, non-temporary employee who has not been designated as "essential services" personnel.

Decision Not To Open or to Close Campus

Who makes the decision?

The decision to close or not to open the campus will be made by the Chancellor or (designee). The Chancellor may consult with various individuals on campus and ask for recommendations, but the Chancellor will make the final decision.

Conditions that may require a decision to close or not to open the campus should be communicated through the Provost, Senior Vice Chancellor, or appropriate Vice Chancellor to the Chancellor at the earliest possible time. Public safety is the primary consideration in closure decisions. In this regard, the University Police Chief (or designee) will be responsible for advising the Vice Chancellor for Administration on safety-related conditions. This advisory and/or recommendation will be made after consultation with other appropriate agencies, such as Facilities Management, Environmental Health & Safety, the Colorado State Patrol, and/or applicable agencies. The Vice Chancellor for Administration will then advise or recommend to the Chancellor an appropriate course of action.

When is the decision made not to open the campus?

Such a decision will normally be made by 5:30 a.m. of the emergency day.

What is the notification procedure?

The University Police Chief (or designee) will initiate an advisory call to the Vice Chancellor for Administration if conditions are such that opening is in question. The Vice Chancellor for Administration will then contact the Chancellor. Once the Chancellor has made the decision, the University Police Department will communicate that decision to the following, since these units receive many inquiries regarding decisions on closing and/or have follow-up responsibilities:

  • University Communications
  • Facilities Management, Service Center
  • Facilities Management, Facilities Operations
  • Housing and Dining Services
  • Emergency Management Coordinator
  • System Administration

University Communications will notify those who have signed up for emergency alerts of campus closures via the text messaging service. Individuals may sign up for this service at alerts.colorado.edu. In case of emergency, please go to www.colorado.edu for detailed information.

The University "hotline" service within the campus telecommunications system will provide a recorded message for callers who are unsure about whether the campus is closed. The CU-Boulder Emergency Information Line is 303-492-4636. University Communications will advise radio stations KWAB (1490 AM), KBCO (97.3 FM), KVCU (1190 AM) or KOA (850 AM), and TV stations KCNC-TV 4, KMGH-TV 7, or KUSA-TV 9 to also provide this information. Please note that the news media are notified only in the event of a closure. Any special notifications concerning "essential services" will be handled by the respective Provost, Senior Vice Chancellor, and Vice Chancellors (or designees).

When is the decision made to close early?

In the case of early closing, the decision may be made when the Chancellor (or designee) deems conditions warrant closing the campus. Some units may require immediate notification of the potential to close early because they become obligated to perform certain services in such situations. The Police Chief will be provided a list of such units.

Departments will be notified through their respective Provost, Senior Vice Chancellor, or Vice Chancellor's office.

When the Chancellor authorizes an early release or sequential/staggered release, regular employees are given paid administrative leave and released early under the guidance of the department head/supervisor. In the case of a sequential or staggered release, distance and travel difficulty from work to home and other public safety issues will be used as criteria in the release of employees. Early release time not authorized by the Chancellor (or designee) must be charged to annual leave or leave without pay, unless alternate work arrangements or prior approval has been granted by the appointing authority.

Essential services personnel who are not required to work during an early release or sequential/staggered release are given paid administrative leave and may be released early under the guidance of the department head/supervisor.

When is a decision made to re-open the campus?

In the event of a campus closure, the decision to re-open the campus will be made by the Chancellor (or designee) and announced to the campus community and general public.

Who are essential services personnel?

"Essential services" are those functions and personnel required to maintain or protect the health, safety, or physical well-being of campus personnel (students, staff, and faculty), academic mission, and facilities (including research projects), given the conditions of the emergency at hand.

Determining Essential Services for Emergency Closures: The Provost, Senior Vice Chancellor, or Vice Chancellor will determine which operations under their respective supervision should be designated as essential services (as defined above) and under what conditions specific individuals will be required to work during a general closing. The determination of essential services and personnel may vary depending on conditions of the emergency at hand. Examples of emergency conditions include, but are not limited to: snow, ice, flood, power failure, explosion, or extreme heat or cold. Lists of designated essential services and personnel should be disseminated to the appropriate unit supervisor; individuals included on such lists should be notified by their supervisors. Employees should contact their supervisors if they have questions about whether or not they are considered "essential services" personnel.

Emergency Leave Guidelines

How is leave handled during a campus closure?

Campus Closure: When the Chancellor decides to close or not open the campus, administrative leave is granted to regular employees for their scheduled work hours during the period of closure. Regular part-time employees or those paid on an hourly basis (such as variable percent employees) who are normally scheduled to work when a closure occurs are given paid administrative leave for the scheduled work hours. Regular employees who are eligible for overtime (non-FLSA exempt) shall not count the period of closure as hours worked for the purposes of calculating overtime. Temporary (including retirees hired into temporary positions) and student employees are not eligible for administrative leave. Employees who are already on approved annual, sick, or other type of leave when a closure occurs will not be given paid administrative leave for their scheduled work hours during the period of closure.(1)

Essential services personnel that are:

  • Required to work during a campus closure are to be paid at the regular rate for hours worked.
  • Required to work during a campus closure may not be granted an equivalent amount of administrative leave.(2)
  • Eligible for overtime (non-FLSA exempt) shall count the period of closure as hours worked for the purpose of calculating overtime.
  • Required to work during a campus closure but do not report to work or leave work early without authorization will not be granted administrative leave and must use annual leave or leave without pay to cover the absence.
  • Not required to work or are released early during a campus closure will be granted paid administrative leave.

How is leave handled when the campus closes early or opens late?

Early Closure: When the Chancellor authorizes an early or sequential/staggered release, regular employees are granted paid administrative leave and released under the guidance of the department head or supervisor. In the case of a sequential/staggered release, distance and travel difficulty from work to home and other public safety issues shall be used as criteria in the release of employees. Specific guidelines follow:

  • The amount of administrative leave granted for sequential/staggered release or early closure is based on the official time of release authorized by the Chancellor.
  • Regular shift employees are granted paid administrative leave for their normally scheduled work hours occurring after an official campus closure.
  • Early release time not authorized by the Chancellor or his designee shall be charged to annual leave or leave without pay, unless alternate work arrangements/options are approved by the appointing authority.

Delayed Opening: When the Chancellor authorizes a delayed opening, regular employees are granted paid administrative leave if the delay occurs during their scheduled work hours. Regular employees who arrive late to work beyond the delayed opening due to extreme weather conditions may be granted administrative leave if the appointing authority determines that the lateness was reasonable.

How should administrative leave be reported?

Leave Reporting: When paid administrative leave is granted as a result of a campus closure, early or sequential/staggered release, or a delayed opening, the paid administrative leave is entered into PeopleSoft HRMS only for overtime-eligible employees. Administrative leave should be recorded on the overtime-eligible employee's work record and entered into PeopleSoft HRMS for purposes of overtime calculations. 

May employees take leave during extreme conditions prior to or in the absence of an official campus closure?

Campus employees are urged to use their discretion in deciding whether they can safely commute to and from work. If personal health or safety is an issue in that decision, responsible judgment should be used. Employees may request time off prior to and in the absence of an official campus closure. With supervisor approval, employees must take annual leave or leave without pay if no annual leave is available. Campus supervisors and appointing authorities are encouraged to be flexible in authorizing annual leave for employees in these situations.

Are alternate work arrangements available during extreme weather conditions prior to or in the absence of an official campus closure?

In some instances, the supervisor or appointing authority may determine that an alternate work arrangement, e.g. telecommuting, could be used to support university activity and meet the business needs of the department during extreme weather conditions. Alternate work arrangements must be approved by the appointing authority.

How should regular employees who work during an official campus closure be compensated?

Regular Employees who are authorized to work during an official campus closure may be granted paid administrative leave for the time worked at the discretion of the appointing authority. Employees would not receive additional pay for the hours worked during the closure but could be granted alternative time off. Temporary (including retirees hired into temporary positions) and student employees who work during a campus closure must be paid for hours worked but are not eligible to receive administrative leave.

When employees are required to work overnight during an emergency closure, how will they be compensated?

  • Regular employees who are eligible for overtime and are required by their supervisors to stay on campus overnight during an emergency closure are entitled to be paid for rest/sleep time at the employee's regular pay rate plus applicable premiums, including shift and overtime.
  • Regular employees exempt from overtime who are required by their supervisors to stay on campus overnight during an emergency closure may be granted paid administrative leave at the discretion of the appointing authority.
  • Essential service personnel are not eligible for paid administrative leave even if required to stay on campus overnight due to a campus closure.
  • Regular employees who are required by their supervisors to be in on-call status overnight are entitled to on-call pay.
  • Regular employees who are stranded on campus and are not required by their supervisors to stay or to be on-call are not eligible for compensation.

Where do I call with questions regarding emergency leave?

Employees should contact their supervisors and appointing authorities with questions about personal leave and timekeeping.

Payroll/Personnel Liaisons (PPLs) and campus supervisors should contact the Human Resources - Office of Employee Relations at 303-492-0956 or the Office of Employment Services-Position and Compensation Management at 303-492-6475 with questions.


(1) See Department of Personnel and Administration, Division of Human Resources, Technical Assistance - Time Off, Revised September 25, 2014.

(2) See Department of Personnel and Administration, Division of Human Resources, Technical Assistance - Time Off, Revised September 25, 2014.

Updated October 30, 2014

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