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Hazardous Weather and Emergency Closings

The University of South Carolina's Columbia campus is a residential community and needs to remain open at all times. However, occasions may occur when weather-related conditions or other emergency necessitate that the University announce a delayed arrival time, an early dismissal time, or remain open for essential staff only. In all cases, employees must use their best judgment in determining their own safety when traveling to and from home. The following are the most commonly asked questions and answers regarding the Hazardous Weather and Emergency Leave Policy.


How are decisions made regarding closings, delayed openings, early dismissals or opening for critical services when there is severe weather or other emergency?

arrow When weather or other emergencies affect the University of South Carolina operating schedule, the University normally follows directions issued by the Governor for state agencies. However, because faculty, staff and students travel to campus from across the state, University officials may decide independent of any state decision that a delayed opening or closing is necessary. In some instances, University officials may opt to cancel classes although the University's administrative offices remain open. Unless the Governor issues a Declaration of Emergency or unless University officials announce a delayed opening or closing, employees are expected to report for work.

arrow Any decision to close or to delay opening will be transmitted from the Governor's Office to the State Office of Human Resources. The State Office of Human Resources will then notify University officials, who then are responsible for notifying all campuses within the affected areas.

arrow A Declaration of Emergency may apply to all state employees, or only to those employees in one geographical region of the state, or a combination of geographical regions. Non-essential employees who live or work in the specified region will not be expected to report to work.

arrow The University's policy does not preclude the necessary, immediate evacuation of a facility by an authorized supervisor in the interest of personal safety.


How will I know if the University has a delayed opening, early dismissal or is requiring only critical employees report to work?

arrow When an emergency declaration occurs during regular working hours, supervisors will be notified by email or telephone about the details including the official time of dismissal so that they can relay the information to individual employees.

arrow During off-duty hours (5 p.m. to 8 a.m.), emergency declarations will be transmitted by the Governor's Office to the news media. Employees are responsible for responding in an appropriate manner to closings as they are announced. Local radio and television stations make regular announcements of any work schedule changes due to weather conditions.

arrowAll faculty, staff and students on all campuses are encouraged to subscribe to Carolina Alert which is the University's primary emergency notification system that can send email, text or voice messages to your cell phone, email address or land-line phone. To sign up for Carolina Alert or to update your information, log into VIP, select Personal in the left navigation pane, then select Show Me Emergency Notification.

arrow Delayed openings and closings are also posted on the University's Carolina Alert Website.

arrow Columbia campus employees may also call the USC Columbia Emergency Information Network at 803-777-5700 to receive a recorded message with up-to-date information.

arrow Current information on hazardous weather notifications affecting the state can be found on the South Carolina Emergency Management Division's website.


What if I live in an area affected by severe weather conditions or other emergency that does not include the vicinity of the University campus where I work?

arrow Each employee ultimately must decide if conditions make travel unsafe; that is employees are not asked to travel if they feel they are taking undue risk in doing so. An employee who is unable to get to work because of weather-related conditions or other emergency declaration, even though the University is open, may use annual leave or elect to take the day without pay.

arrow Employees are often contacted by commuting students with this question. If a student feels it is unsafe to travel to campus, he or she must clear their absence with the individual professors whose classes will be missed as a result.


How do I know if I'm an essential employee and what will be expected of me?

arrow The President, Provost, vice presidents, chancellors and regional campus deans will identify essential employees by position, classification or internal title and notify those individuals. For instance, nearly 6,000 students live on the Columbia campus and must continue to be housed, fed and provided security during emergency situations.Consequently, essential personnel would typically include University police, certain operations and maintenance employees, and certain food service employees. If you have a question about your status, clarify it with your supervisor before an emergency arises.


Will I be paid for time missed because of a delayed opening, early dismissal or closing due to an emergency declaration?

arrow Employees who do not report to work or who report late during an emergency declaration will use annual or compensatory leave, take leave without pay or be allowed to make up time lost from work; except when the Governor declares a state of emergency and approves the use of hazardous weather emergency leave with pay. In this case, the Governor's approval of hazardous weather emergency leave with pay provides for absences from work without taking annual or compensatory leave, or making up the time. For more information, see Weather-Related Closing: What to do about reporting time off.

arrow Employees will be given the option of making up the time lost from work during an emergency declaration by the Governor. However, the time will be made up and/or scheduled according to the business needs of the University.

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