Weather/Emergency Closures

Severe Winter Weather Telecommuting Terms & Agreements and the application form can be found in GrinnellShare on the Human Resources page (login required).

Occasionally, emergencies such as severe winter weather, fires, power failures, or tornadoes, will disrupt college operations. When this happens the college will respond in a way appropriate to the situation and may require closing parts of the college or distributing staff and services in an alternative way. Staff should be alert to regular communication methods through the campus home page, email, voice mail and cell phones. Where these methods are not effective, phone trees or other departmental methods of reaching personnel should be used. In extreme emergency situations, an announcement will be broadcast through Central and Eastern Iowa outlets (see the list at the end of this policy). When in doubt, employees should seek guidance from their supervisor. Grinnell College is a residential campus and it is not possible to cease all services. There may be times, however, where limited services are most appropriate. For purposes of this policy, four possible scenarios have been identified.

1) Classes Still in Session, Open Administrative Offices

Unless directed otherwise, staff should report to work. Supervisors and employees are encouraged to be as flexible as possible in adhering to the normal office schedule while considering the safety of employees. Those who leave will be required to use accumulated vacation or personal time to cover their absence or make arrangements with their supervisor to make up the time during the same work week.

2) Classes Still in Session, Closed Administrative Offices

Grinnell College is a residential campus and because of this, students will not be traveling to school to attend classes. However, if a faculty member is not able to commute to campus due to the weather, he/she may cancel his/her respective class, arrange for a colleague to cover the class, or make an alternative assignment. The college relies upon a workforce that lives in Grinnell and surrounding areas. Weather conditions may create difficult driving conditions for those who commute to work. In severe weather, the college may choose to close administrative offices. Should this happen, employees will be paid in the following way. Employees whose work schedule begins during the closing will not be required to work and will be paid for their scheduled hours. Employees who are at work will be released and paid for their regularly scheduled hours. Employees on approved vacation, personal or sick leave will be charged for vacation, personal or sick leave.

Essential Staff

Essential services must be maintained in order to provide for the safety and welfare of the college’s resident student population. Essential staff typically includes most employees who work in Dining Services, Facilities Management, and Campus Safety & Security. Other departments, such as the Library, may also provide essential services if the students are on campus. Departments who provide essential services should determine the positions and personnel who are designated as “essential”, identify the conditions under which they will be considered essential (i.e. students on campus or not) and provide written notice annually to the affected staff in the Fall, well before winter weather conditions require it. Personnel should seek guidance from their supervisor and follow departmental procedures. Under conditions of “Essential Staff only,” essential non-exempt staff who are required to work will be paid two times their regular hourly wage. It is important for essential staff to plan properly so they can be at work when needed. Supervisors and employees are expected to communicate with each other about the weather and plans for covering shifts when severe weather is anticipated. Should an essential staff employee not be able to work due to circumstances beyond his/her control, he/she will be paid like other employees. Lack of adequate planning does not constitute a circumstance beyond one’s control, however, a surprise storm and the inability to come to work may. 3) Campus Closed Only under extreme circumstances would the college campus close. A campus closing would require activation of the Campus Emergency Response Plan. All communication to the campus would occur through that mechanism. Essential staff may be required to work. Refer to the Essential Staff section under “Classes Still in Session, Closed Administrative Offices”.

1) Partial or Complete Evacuation of Campus

There may be occasions where an evacuation of the campus is necessary. Each situation will be assessed as to the extent of the evacuation and whether a partial or complete evacuation is necessary. During partial evacuations, accommodations should be attempted for staff to perform their work elsewhere on the campus. If this is not possible, the supervisor should seek guidance from the Office of Human Resources. Essential staff may be required to work. Refer to the Essential Staff section under “Classes Still in Session, Closed Administrative Offices”.


Telecommuting may be allowed, with proper prior approval, as an alternative to driving in severe winter weather. The Severe Winter Weather Telecommuting Policy outlines the terms and conditions under which telecommuting will be allowed. Employees must complete an application form and receive approval from their department director, Senior Staff member and the Office of Human Resources before telecommuting commences. The purpose of HR involvement is to ensure that severe winter weather telecommuting is being applied consistently across campus. Telecommuting is a way of removing barriers for people to complete their work during severe winter weather. For this reason, employees approved for telecommuting are expected to perform work at home when administrative offices close due to severe weather. Individuals will not receive additional compensation in these cases. Telecommuters should pay attention to winter weather conditions and take portable work home if severe weather is anticipated. If an employee is designated as essential staff, he or she will not be allowed to telecommute.


For news information, please reference the following news media: Iowa Road Conditions Updated every 5 minutes with data provided by Iowa State Patrol Officers: KCCI School Closings and Delays KCCI Television broadcasts (through an email list serve) school closings in the event of weather related or emergency situations. Visit to sign up for school-related announcements. Below are the Central and Eastern Iowa outlets that are notified for weather-related announcements. KGRN, Grinnell; Grinnell Herald-Register; KCOB, Newton; WHO TV 13, Des Moines (WHO has partnered with several other stations, so posting to the 13 site also posts to: WHO Radio 1040, KISS 107.5, The Bus 100.3, Capitol 106.3, KXNO 1460, KDSM Fox 17,, KRNT 1350, STAR 102.5, KIOA 93.3, Lazer 103.3, Lite 104.1); KCCI TV 8, Des Moines; KWWL TV, Waterloo; WMT 600, Cedar Rapids; WOI TV 5, Ames; KCRG TV, Cedar Rapids     

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