FAS Inclement Weather Guidelines

As a residential campus, the FAS is open for business every day of the academic year, except for recognized holidays and other periods of official closure. From time to time, however, weather conditions are sufficiently extreme or hazardous such that normal administrative and/or academic operations are suspended, and only essential services are provided.

In the event of severely inclement weather, any decisions related to the suspension of normal operations – including delayed starts, early releases or office closings – will be made and communicated by the FAS’s emergency management team.

Essential Personnel

Throughout the year, each FAS division and unit will ensure all staff understand their status for weather related events, as essential or non-essential, including whether they are expected to report to work, even if the FAS/University decides to alter working business hours or suspend normal operations for the day. 


Any changes to schedules will be communicated in the following ways. Essential personnel should additionally receive communication from their local units. No messages will be sent if there is no change to regular working hours.

  • The Harvard homepage
    • The FAS homepage (www.fas.harvard.edu) will post an alert and direct users to an emergency page outlining the University’s response.
    • The University’s 24-hour news line, (617) 496-NEWS, will be updated with any University response to severe weather.
  • FAS-wide email message
    • Decisions related to the suspension of normal operations – including delayed starts, early releases or suspension of normal operations – will be communicated via email from emergency@fas.harvard.edu.
  • MessageMe Alert
    • A MessageMe text message alert will be sent to FAS employees when decisions have been made regarding delayed starts, early releases or the suspension of normal operations. Essential employees should always follow their specific local policies and the guidance provided by their local leadership. Please be sure to review and update your MessageMe profile.

Employee Responsibility

Absent a suspension of normal operations, all staff are expected to make every effort commensurate with their personal safety to be at work .

  • Non-essential Staff
    • Non-essential staff who determine that their particular location or circumstances make it unsafe for them to travel may choose to stay home and will normally be expected to cover the absence with vacation or personal time. 
    • If there is a suspension of normal operations, a resulting absence will be considered excused paid time off and will not be charged to a staff member’s vacation or personal time.
      • Non-exempt staff who were scheduled to work that day should enter their time as if they worked their regular schedule by entering the REG pay code in PeopleSoft.
      • Non-exempt staff who were not scheduled to work that day do not need to make any other adjustments in PeopleSoft, nor will they earn additional floating hours.
      • Non-exempt staff who were not scheduled to work that day but were called in will enter their time with the REG pay code in PeopleSoft.
      • If a staff member had a planned vacation or was otherwise not scheduled to work, that time would not be adjusted.
  • Essential Staff
    • For employees who have been designated as essential, the normal work expectations apply: every effort should be made to come to work, absent a previously approved absence or illness. In consideration of the safety of our employees, essential personnel, who find themselves in a specific circumstance that would make travel unsafe, must contact their supervisor as soon as possible for approval to be absent and to follow-up with the supervisor whenever a change in circumstances makes it safe to do so. 
    • Local units should establish protocols to ensure that essential employees understand how to proceed if they are unable to come to work, especially in the case of the suspension of normal operations.  Essential employees are to refer to their local department policies regarding emergency response.

Contingent Workers and Meetings

If there is an official suspension of normal operations, local management should ensure any temporary or contract workers are notified. Additionally, appointments or interviews scheduled that day with non-employees will also need to be cancelled. It is expected that managers will bring the necessary information home with them prior to a severe storm in order to contact these non-employee constituents when there is an official weather-related suspension of normal operations.