University of Minnesota  Administrative Policy

Campus and Building Closing

Policy Statement

In accordance with the University's official Emergency Operations Plan, this policy addresses emergency situations when a campus, portion(s) of a campus, or building(s) will be closed or remain open with reduced operations in the event that a situation poses a serious risk to the health, safety, or security of the University community, research animals, or other mission critical assets. It is intended to provide direction when faced with these unique situations.  The policy terms and provisions should not be viewed as a general reflection of the value placed on particular University functions or personnel.  For example, the term "Essential employee" as used in the policy refers to employees whose duties must be performed on campus, and must continue to be performed during a period of closure or reduced operations.  It is not intended to discount or dismiss mission critical duties performed by other employees.

Determination to Close, Reduce Operations, or Cancel Classes

The responsible individual on each campus will determine when a situation warrants a closure, reduced operations, or cancellation of classes (e.g., adverse weather conditions, hazardous material release, terrorism, emergency, or other threat). Consultation with academic leadership and other appropriate executives will occur prior to making the decision to close or cancel classes, time permitting, depending on the nature of the situation or the protocol as defined in the Emergency Operations Plan.  The responsible individuals for each campus are:

  • Crookston, Morris, Rochester: Chancellor or Emergency Lead - Designated Authority
  • Twin Cities, Duluth: Officer of the Day


Faculty, staff, and students will be notified as quickly as practical through internal and external communications systems, including, as appropriate, the University's e-mail, SAFE-U, tone alert radios, and home page, as well as broader external media resources (television, radio), once a decision is made to execute a closure, reduce operations, or cancel classes.  Additional communications with specific information regarding the hospitals and clinics will follow.

Affected Individuals

In the event of reduced operations:

  • classes will be canceled or moved to online delivery;
  • pay for faculty, staff, and student workers during the period of reduced operations will be delivered pursuant to Appendix: Pay Provisions for Change in Operations and for a duration determined by the University;
  • faculty, staff, and student workers who are identified by their supervisors as Essential employees or who are designated to complete Essential work must continue to report to work on campus as directed by their supervisors;
  • high-risk research, clinical operations, and approved events will operate as usual; Essential employees who support these functions will report to work as directed by their supervisor.

In the event of a closure:

  • all operations will be suspended, including clinical operations and events;
  • only individuals Essential to secure the campus or avert catastrophic failure will be required to report or be permitted on campus.

Special Situations

Certain major public events are not automatically canceled when reduced operations are in effect (see campus-specific appendices for examples). The Officer of the Day or Chancellor will determine whether the public event may be held. Consultation with appropriate executives will occur prior to making the decision to close or reduce operations, time permitting, depending on the nature of the situation or the protocol as defined in the Emergency Operations Plan.

Individual Decisions

The University acknowledges that it is a community of individuals with different abilities and circumstances.  In situations in which a campus remains open for normal operations, individuals are reminded to use their own judgment about their safety in deciding whether to report to work or attend classes.  In these circumstances, an employee is not relieved of their responsibility for their work, and may be required to make alternative arrangements with their supervisor, or utilize paid leave as provided in the work rules for their classification.  Students who determine they need to miss class should promptly notify their instructor and review the class syllabus regarding attendance and other class requirements.

Evolving Situations

While this policy provides direction for addressing emergency situations, the University also recognizes that such situations are often unpredictable, and that each situation is different.  The University must be flexible in order to respond appropriately and effectively as situations develop.  During any situation covered by this policy, the University is committed to providing open and timely communications regarding its decisions and response plan, including any amendments to this or other applicable policies and procedures.

Reason for Policy

The University recognizes the need to prepare for unexpected situations or respond to weather that may require the closure of all or part of a campus or reduce operations; to identify the decision-making hierarchy for such closures; to ensure timely notification to students, staff, faculty, and visitors; and to confirm affected individual responsibilities in the event of a closure or reduced operations.


Primary Contact(s)Crookston: Chris Winjum218-281-8343[email protected]
Duluth: Sue Bosell218.726.7168[email protected]
Morris: Bryan Herrmann320-589-6113[email protected]
Rochester: Virginia Wright-Peterson507-258-8009[email protected]
Twin Cities: David Paulu612-626-3293[email protected]
Emergency Operations PlanSenior Emergency Management Coordinator - Adam Wodtke612-624-3148[email protected]
Personnel/compensation issues during potential/actual closingContact your unit or campus HR administrator  
Responsible Individuals
Responsible Officer Policy Owner Primary Contact
  • Assistant Vice President for Health, Safety, and Risk Management
  • Assistant Vice President for Health, Safety, and Risk Management
  • David Paulu
    Assistant Radiation Safety Officer


Adverse Conditions

Adverse conditions include severe inclement weather conditions (such as significant accumulation of snow or ice, high winds, tornados, earthquakes, hurricanes, flooding, extreme temperatures, etc.) that pose serious risk to the health or safety of University personnel and/or students, impede the ability of individuals to travel, create significant logistical challenges, or cause loss of utilities or other critical infrastructure.

Campus Closure

All functions and operations are suspended due to imminent threat or danger to life or safety of individuals. Essential employees should check with their supervisor, as only those Essential employees necessary to secure the campus or avert catastrophic failures are required to report. All buildings are locked.

Emergency/Disaster Conditions

Emergency/Disaster conditions may exist as a result of a natural or human-caused disaster, a civil disorder that poses an imminent threat of serious injury to persons or property, public health emergency, or other seriously disruptive events where extraordinary measures are required immediately to avert, alleviate, or repair damage to University property or to maintain the orderly operation of the campus.

Emergency Lead – Designated Authority (ELDA)

Crookston, Morris, and Rochester campuses: the individual designated by the Chancellor with authority to act on their behalf in handling emergencies affecting their campus.

Essential Employee

An employee considered essential as that term is defined in the Administrative Policy: University State of Emergency: Human Resources Implications.

Officer of the Day (OOD)

Duluth and Twin Cities campus: the individual designated by the President or Chancellor with full authority to act on their behalf in handling emergencies affecting the campus. The OOD must always be available for a rapid response to campus issues and arrange for an alternate when not available. On the Twin Cities campus, the primary OOD (Vice President for University Services) communicates the OOD schedule to the Chief of Police, the Department of Emergency Management (DEM), and others on campus. On the Duluth campus, the Chancellor communicates the OOD schedule to the University system President, the campus vice chancellors and their staffs, the Chief of Police, and others on campus.

Reduced Operations

Classes held on campus and routine day-to-day academic and administrative operations are suspended as directed by the President or Chancellor. In these areas, only Essential employees are required to report to campus as directed by their supervisor. Most buildings are locked. High risk research, clinical operations, and approved events continue to operate as usual. Campuses may elect to deliver classes online to allow for continuity of instruction.


SAFE-U is the University of Minnesota's emergency notification text messaging system. Students, faculty, and staff can stay informed about critical campus class, safety, and closing / reduced operations information by registering to receive SAFE-U messages. University employees and students may modify their SAFE-U preferences in the MyU Portal.

University Email

University email is the official system of communication with students (see Administrative Policy: Using Email as Official Student Communication).


All Employees and Students

Listen to media announcements and monitor their campus home page for specific closing or reduced operations information. Maintain current information for SAFE-U, the University's emergency text message notification.

Building Evacuations

In the event of a building closing, everyone in the building must follow the instructions communicated by authorized individuals (e.g., University Police, Health, Safety and Risk Management, local fire and law enforcement or other emergency responders (e.g. EMS)).

Officer of the Day - Twin Cities and Duluth Campuses

Assess emergency/disaster situations and make decisions on whether to close all or portion(s) the campus or reduce operations in the event of an emergency/disaster. Act as the Chief Executive in the event of campus emergencies /disasters and in the Emergency Operations Center (EOC). Make appropriate contact with academic leadership, other senior University officials, government, community, and private sector entities. Brief the President as required. Make staffing and funding decisions to support the emergency response. Approve internal and external communications relating to the emergency. Ensure overall system coordination/response including system campuses.

Chancellor and Emergency Lead – Designated Authority (ELDA) - Crookston, Morris, and Rochester Campuses

When an emergency situation occurs on the campus, these administrators identify an incident response team to system campus emergency response. Specific team members will vary to meet the needs of the situation at hand. The Chancellor’s designated Emergency Lead - Designated Authority (ELDA) will be responsible and have the authority to implement the campus Emergency Operations Plan, including coordinating warning and notification. They will assess emergency/disaster situations and make decisions on whether to close all or portion(s) of the campus or reduce operations in the event of an emergency/disaster. Brief the President as required.

University Relations or University Marketing and Public Relations

Communicates in a timely and accurate manner with people both internal and external to the University on closures, reduced operations, or class cancellations for the campus. Manage public communication regarding status of hospitals and clinics where applicable.

Unit Administrators

Develop a specific set of procedures for their own units within the guidelines of overall University policies and procedures. Develop, maintain, and execute a Continuity of Operations Plan (COOP) if applicable.


Notify Essential employees as to their designation and responsibilities in the event of an emergency closing or reduced operations as early as possible, or include in job posting if feasible. Communicate with employees regarding work expectations during reduced operations or closure.

Faculty, Staff, and Student Workers Who Have Not Received Notification of Essential Status

During a period of reduced operations or campus closure, all faculty, staff and student workers are required to work remotely unless otherwise directed by their supervisor.



September 2020 - Responsibilities section update.


July 2020 - The COVID-19 pandemic presented the need to further refine “reduced operations” into two categories – short-term and long-term. This change provides the ability to assign employees, work, and pay accordingly. A revision also allows for the University to provide continuity of pay for a duration determined by the institution. The previous language did not provide for a potential end date for pay in the case of reduced operations or closure.


March 2020 - Updates to address COVID-19 or other public health emergencies.


November 2019 - Comprehensive Review. Alignment of policy for systemwide application; addition of Appendices for each system campus.


September 2015 - Structured policy and delegation of authority for the decision to continue or suspend operations of the University (Twin Cities campus specifically) is necessary to ensure timely decision making and provide clarity for students, faculty, and staff about the impacts of those decisions. Added language about class cancellation to clarify that is included under this policy, as there have been instances in recent years when the University did not close, but did cancel classes. Other minor updates to reflect current information.



December 2010 - Major Revision, comprehensive review. 1. Expands the policy to cover closing of individual or multiple buildings, in addition to a full campus closing. 2. Specifies the Officer of the Day as the individual responsible for determining when to close a building or campus, in consultation with the Senior Vice President for Academic Affairs and Provost, and other appropriate executives as the situation permits. 3. Improves readability of the policy by reorganizing and consolidating information in associated Appendices (e.g., employee compensation during a closing). 4. Title updated from "Emergency Closing Policy" to "Campus and Building Closings: Twin Cities." 5. Responsible Officer and Ownership has moved from Senior Vice President Academic Affairs and Provost to Vice President for University Services.


December 2003


December 1999


December 1998


December 1994


December 1994