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Inclement weather campus closures: When, why and how to find out

Behind the Scenes, Facilities Management and Development

By With the winter season around the corner, we’re providing some clarification about how the university decides whether to close campus and where to find up-to-date info in the event of a storm.

Pedestrians walking along a snowy Gould Street.

With the winter season around the corner and snow sure to be in the forecast soon, we’re providing some clarification about campus closures.

How does the university decide whether to close for inclement weather?

Who doesn’t love a snow day? While it can often seem like a predicted snowfall or ice storm is sure to cause campus closures, in actuality they are rare occurrences. Decisions about shutting the university are made based on a number of factors, including:

  • current weather conditions;
  • forecasted conditions for later in the day;
  • the status of public transportation systems; and
  • the ability of Ryerson to maintain safe conditions on campus.

Though it happens rarely, if severe weather conditions put the safety of the community at risk, the university may close operations. In some cases, the decision is made to cancel just some classes and/or exams but otherwise remain open; in other cases, it’s a full campus closure. For example, if morning classes and exams are cancelled but weather and transit improves through the day, the university could reopen for afternoon and evening classes.

This decision is made by the Vice-President, Administration and Operations and the Provost and Vice-President, Academic as outlined in the Restricting/Closing Operations Because of Severe Weather Conditions - Campus Closure Policy. A number of areas around campus, such as Facilities Management and Development provide input to help make the decision.

What’s the impact of closing campus?

In the event that the university is closed, classes and examinations are suspended, university buildings are closed, meetings and events are cancelled, the Early Learning Centre is closed, and employees are not required to be present at work. Some essential services do still continue to function; for example, those services required to support vulnerable research, personal safety and university infrastructure.

Semesters are scheduled fairly tightly, with 12 (or 13) weeks of class, one reading week, two weeks of exams and then grades are due. If classes are cancelled, it generally means that one of those 12 classes is missed entirely. Students should check communications from their professor/instructor for details on how the missed class will be addressed. If a professor/instructor wants to schedule a makeup class, it’s often very difficult to find a common time among students that also matches up with space availability. If it’s during exams, it means that exam dates get pushed into early January during registration week.

In these exceptional situations, the university works to find solutions to minimize the impact on faculty, staff and students. Given the amount of coordination and level of impact that a single day closure can cause, the university works to keep campus open unless severe weather conditions put the safety of the community at risk.

Mobile phone with sample weather alert on the screen.How to find out if the university is closed

In the event of inclement weather, the community is put on alert the night before via Twitter, reminding everyone to keep tabs on our social media accounts. Our goal is always to communicate a campus closure status by 6:15 a.m. In the event of a closure:

  • a yellow banner will appear at the top of the ryerson.ca,
  • the university posts notifications on all central university social media channels,
  • the phone prompt for 416-979-5000 is updated to advise of the closure.

The @RyersonU twitter account will always have the most up-to-date information.