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Living in Iowa means living with winter weather. Unless weather is extreme and street crews are unable to keep up with clearing the snow and ice, the university will likely stay open. Continuity of services is essential to a medical and health sciences university as well as patient care in the DMU Clinic.
DMU’s decision may vary from undergraduate colleges/universities in the metro area, and very likely vary from local school districts’ decisions. Hospitals, clinics, insurance companies, and other healthcare organizations may remain open on inclement weather days, much like DMU may remain open.
Employees and students, whether on-campus or at rotation sites, should use personal discretion whether to drive in winter conditions. Each one of us has a different comfort level when driving in these conditions.
- Employees: If you are not comfortable driving in winter conditions or are not able to make it to work due to local school districts closings, please contact your supervisor. Employees are required to use vacation or personal time.
- Students: If you are not comfortable driving in winter conditions or are not able to make it to campus or rotation site, please follow your program’s process for reporting an absence.Programs may decide to alter their published schedule due to inclement weather; students and faculty will be notified of such changes by the program’s customary process.
Important Information for Students and the Public
In the event of adverse weather conditions, or an emergency situation, the Chief Financial Officer and the Director of Facilities Management will gather information and make a recommendation to the President regarding whether to stay open, delay the start of classes, close mid-day, cancel evening events and classes, or cancel all activities. The President, CFO, and the Director of Facilities Management will consider the following information:
- The status of the City of Des Moines and Polk County offices and operations, including the operating status of the DART bus system.
- City of Des Moines/Polk County Emergency Management recommendations.
- Road conditions to and from campus from within the metro area, county, and adjacent counties, as well as road conditions on campus.
- The condition of campus parking lots and sidewalks, including if Facilities Management has been able to adequately clear most areas.
- Assessments by DMU Facilities Management and Security of safety on campus such as tree damage, sidewalks, etc.
When overnight storms or emergencies occur, the Director of Facilities Management will contact the CFO by 5:00 a.m. to assess the situation.. If the recommendation is to close, the CFO contacts the President and emails the Emergency Closing Team, which includes the Executive Leadership Team. Communication to campus is targeted by 6:00am. On rare occasions, some circumstances push the decision to a later time.
- Omnilert: If not signed up, please go to the Facilities Management Pulse page. (email Philip.Baughman@dmu.edu with any questions)
- Message to your mobile device.
- DMU email and additional email(s) set up in Omnilert
- DMU website
- Local TV and radio stations.
**Please note that it may take 10-15 minutes for all news media and other notification methods to be updated once the decision is made.
The Emergency Closing Team members listed below will assist with internal and external communications if weather or an emergency event impacts the planned schedule:
- Executive Leadership Team
- Director of Facilities Management
- Campus Services Manager
- Facilities Office Administrator
- Fiscal Operations Administrator
- Director of Admissions and Recruitment
- Assistant Director of Admissions
- Health and Safety Manager
- Director of Dining Services
During daytime storms or emergencies, staff monitor conditions throughout the day and continually assess conditions. If conditions deteriorate to merit a closure discussion, Executive Leadership Team members will determine appropriate action.
Employees and students who are not required to report to campus during a closure are asked to leave campus once it is closed for safety reasons. This allows Facilities Management staff to more readily clear snow from parking lots and roadways as it accumulates, or to focus on the emergency causing the closure such as a power outage. University employees with emergency duties should check with their supervisor about whether they are expected to report to work even if the university is closed.
There may be situations where employees are already on campus when notified of a delayed start due to severe weather and staying on campus is safer than leaving. These will be handled on a case by case basis.
The campus is open unless communication to close is distributed. If campus is closed for a day, campus will be open the following day unless communication is distributed that the campus is closed again.
Facilities Management strives to remove snow from sidewalks, parking lots and building entrances by 7:00 a.m. after an evening or early morning storm when the university is open. If a storm is moving in during operating hours, Facilities Management crews regularly shovel routes during the day. Snow is removed and ice melt is applied according to priority routes across campus, including vehicle, pedestrian, and bike routes. Some routes may be clearer of snow than other routes in the morning hours, particularly if snow falls during business hours and crews are making their rounds. Please use caution when walking and driving to campus and wear appropriate clothing and shoes.
Areas of concern, including accessibility issues created by snow and ice, should be reported to Facilities Management at FacilitiesManagement@dmu.edu, or you may contact the Security Office at (515) 271-1471. Please do not contact the university grounds crew or other Facilities Management employees directly; they may be away from their phones working to clear the campus of snow.
In the event an employee or student require vehicle assistance while parked on campus, they may refer to the university’s Parking and Vehicle Regulations. If a vehicle will not start, a battery pack will be available for any vehicle located on campus. The battery pack is located in the Security Office in Ryan Hall, 139.
- Individuals will be responsible for obtaining, operating, and returning the battery pack. When finished, properly put the cables back on the battery pack and return promptly to the Security Officer on duty in the Security Office.
- Instructions for use are located on the battery pack.
- If you have questions or need assistance, please call the Security Officer at (515) 271-1471.
Important Information for Employees
- When campus is closed (full or partial day), paid administrative leave is granted to regular benefit eligible employees for their scheduled work hours during the period of closure.
- Regular benefit eligible part-time employees scheduled to work during the period of closure are given paid administrative leave for their scheduled work hours.
- Non-benefit eligible employees, including student employees, are not eligible for paid administrative leave during a closure.
- Employees who are already on approved vacation, sick, or other type of leave when a closure occurs are not eligible for paid administrative leave for their scheduled work hours during a full day closure or partial day closure.
- An employee who chooses to arrive late, leave early, or take a full day off during adverse weather conditions, before being notified of a campus closure, would not be granted paid administrative leave.
If the University is closed for more than one consecutive workday, whether or not employees are paid for the time not worked shall be decided on a case-by-case basis. A decision to pay or not pay employees for time not worked due to closure of more than one consecutive workday shall not be deemed to set a precedent for subsequent incidents.
Employees who are required to work during a campus closure:
- Non-exempt (benefit eligible): Will be paid administrative leave plus hours worked.
- Non-exempt (non-benefit eligible): Will be paid for hours worked.
- Exempt: Supervisor and employee may discuss adjustment to work schedule for hours worked.
Non-exempt employees submit a time away from work request marked “Other” and include in the comments, DMU Closed, DMU early closure or DMU delayed start, depending on the situation. Hours submitted will be the employee’s scheduled number of work hours for the campus closure. Exempt employees do not need to submit any time away from work to be paid for the closure.
Supervisors are responsible for assuring employees are appropriately submitting time away.
Regular benefit eligible employees who arrive late to work due to weather conditions will discuss two options with the supervisor; submit vacation/personal time or employee adjust the weekly work schedule to make up the hours. The decision is at the supervisor’s discretion based upon the function and job duties.
Employees should use personal discretion in deciding whether to drive in severe weather conditions. Employees may request time off prior to and in the absence of an official campus closure. Employees are required to use vacation or personal time.
A supervisor may determine if employees’ work schedules may be adjusted for the week impacted.
Employees are not able to use telework in lieu of using leave time or flexing time, unless the employee has an established telework schedule in which they are scheduled to work from home on the day of the closure.
Winter Weather Safety Information
The leaves are turning, there is a chill in the air and winter will be right around the corner with ice and snow. Parking lots and sidewalks can be slippery no matter how well snow and ice are removed.
Everyone needs to be aware of these dangers and “Walk like a Penguin”.
Des Moines University recommends the following important safety tips:
- Watch out for black ice. Assume all wet, dark areas on pavement are slippery.
- Avoid footwear with smooth soles and heels. Instead wear footwear that provides traction, like non-slip rubber or neoprene with grooved soles. There are also products available with abrasive soles or cleats that provide traction. Make sure to remove these when entering buildings.
- When entering or exiting a vehicle; use the vehicle for support. Don’t hold objects, like coffee cups, backpacks or purses etc. as you are exiting. Exit the vehicle then retrieve the items.
- Walk on designated walkways as much as possible. Don’t take shortcuts across piles of snow or where snow and ice removal is not feasible. Look ahead when you walk; a snow-or-ice covered sidewalk or driveway may require you to travel on the grassy edge for traction.
- Don’t text or read while walking.
- Now you are ready to “Walk Like a Penguin”
- Point your feet out slightly. This will increase your center of gravity.
- Bend slightly and walk flat footed with your center of gravity directly over your feet.
- Extend your arms to your sides for balance.
- Keep your hands out of your pockets (wear mittens or gloves to keep your hands warm.) Hands in your pockets decreases your center of gravity and balance. You can help break your fall with your hands free if you do start to slip.
- Go slowly.
- Take short steps or shuffle.
- Wear a heavy, bulky coat, not only for warmth but for a cushion if you do fall.
- Try to avoid landing on knees, wrists or spine. Try to fall on a fleshy part of your body like your side.
- Try to relax as you fall, you will injury yourself less if relaxed.
No one likes driving in inclement weather conditions especially winter weather. However, being prepared and following the safety tips below can decrease the stress of winter driving and make the trip safer.
Preparedness, Before Winter Strikes
- Have your vehicle serviced and make sure it is in good working order. Check for vehicle recalls at www.nhtsa.gov/recalls.
- Make sure tires are in good condition and inflated properly.
- Ensure that the windshield wash is full and wiper blades are in good working order.
- Keep the fuel tank at least half full.
- Know your brakes and how to use them properly. Antilock brake systems prevent your wheels from locking up during braking. If you have antilock brakes, apply firm, continuous pressure to the brake pedal. If you don’t have antilock brakes, you may need to pump your brakes if you feel your wheels starting to lock up.
- Pack a winter survival kit to keep in your vehicle. Items to include:
- jumper cables
- extra clothing
- snow shovel
- ice scraper
- high calorie non-perishable foods
- flashlight with extra batteries
- first-aid kit and
- sand or strips of carpet for traction.
Before Traveling to Your Destination
- Warm up your vehicle (never in an enclosed area, such as a garage).
- Make sure all windows are free from snow and ice.
- Remove snow and ice from front and rear lights and turn signals.
- Remove snow from the hood of the vehicle. Blowing snow from the hood decreases visibility.
- Check weather and road condition, with local media, calling 511 or using the internet.
- Drive slowly, below the speed limit. Posted speed limits are for ideal road conditions.
- Increase your following distance to 5 – 6 seconds.
- Do not use cruise control on slippery roads.
- Ramps and bridges may freeze before other road surfaces.
- Beware of black ice.
- Accelerate and de-accelerate slowly to establish traction. It is actually better to keep moving. For instance, if you can slow down enough to keep rolling until a traffic light changes you will decrease your chances of skidding.
- Avoid applying extra gas on snow-covered roads, especially hills, which will make your wheels spin. Start gaining inertia before you reach the hill and let that inertia carry you to the top. At the crest of the hill, reduce your speed for the downhill.
- Don’t text and avoid other distractive behaviors, such as eating and applying make-up.
- Don’t drive through “white out” conditions.
What to Do if Stranded
- Stay with your vehicle, it provides protection.
- Do not try to walk in a severe storm.
- If digging out your vehicle, don’t over exert yourself.
- Signal distress by tying a brightly colored cloth to the antenna or a cloth at the top of a rolled-up window. At night leave the dome light on.
- Stat warm by packing an extra blanket or heavy clothing or use what might be available in the vehicle, such as maps, floor mats, or newspapers.
- Conserve fuel only run the engine and heater long enough to remove the chill.
- Keep the exhaust pipe clear of snow, ice and mud, to prevent carbon monoxide poisoning when the engine is running.
For more information please refer to the websites below: