Record-breaking cold leads to record-breaking closure

Prompted by dangerously cold weather, university administrators called off classes and closed Iowa State offices Tuesday through midday Thursday.

It was a rare cold, with daytime wind chills from 20 to 45 below and a low point of nearly minus 50 in the wee hours Wednesday. The air temperature of minus 22 Wednesday broke the record low in Ames for Jan. 30 by 7 degrees, according to the National Weather Service.

Campuswide closures are rare, too. How rare? According to university relations records dating back to 1971, it's only the sixth time ISU offices have closed during those 48 years. The most recent instance was the afternoon of Feb. 20, 2014. Classes have been canceled 32 times since 1971, though often just for part of the day and on a couple of occasions for non-winter reasons (1993 flood, 1990 power outage). This week was the only time in that nearly half century when inclement weather forced campus to close for more than two weekdays.  

Since it comes up so infrequently, employees might need a reminder about the policy on work time missed due to weather emergencies.

Most staff need to use vacation or compensatory time to make up for lost work hours. Employees also can take leave without pay or, with supervisor approval, work additional hours this week to make up for missed time.

When university offices close, faculty are expected to adjust their work activity appropriately, in consultation with their unit or department. There is no policy for making up class time missed for weather cancellations.