Below is our Weather Policy

Severe Weather

Guiding principle: During severe weather, the University's primary concern is the safety of students, faculty, staff and visitors.

Definition: Severe weather is defined as such weather that has the potential to cause a substantial interference with the operations of the University. Weather that has been categorized by the National Weather Service as a tornado, blizzard, flood or warnings thereof, are some examples of weather that Fort Hays State University considers to be severe.

Status of University operations

When severe weather threatens to disrupt classes or office schedules, the President will choose from three options:

1. The University is closed. With this declaration, all operations will be curtailed except the Power Plant, University Police, University Farm, Grounds Department and Residence Halls. All other employees will be dismissed and granted time off with pay.

2. The University is open, but on-campus classes are canceled. Students and teaching faculty are dismissed from on-campus classes. Employees who are unable to be at work will be charged leave time for working hours missed. Making up missed time is not an option.

3. The University is open, and classes will meet as scheduled. Employees who are unable to be at work will be charged leave time for working hours missed. Making up missed time is not an option.

Announcement of severe weather status -- overnight weather

1. When the severe weather occurs overnight, the President will consult with the Grounds Department to make a decision about the status of University operations. If the President selects either of the first two options -- the University is closed; or, the University is open, but on-campus classes are canceled -- the Director of University Relations will be contacted by 6 a.m. to make public announcements. If the President selects the third option -- the University is open, and classes will meet as scheduled -- no announcement will be made. Experience has shown that announcing there is no change in normal operations tends to create confusion. Students, faculty and staff should assume there has been no change in status unless they hear a public announcement to the contrary.

2. Upon being informed of a change in status due to severe weather, the Director of University Relations will contact the University Webmaster, electronic media, the Director of TigerInfo, and the Director of the Sternberg Museum of Natural History.

3. Upon being contacted by the Director of University Relations, the Webmaster will immediately post the operational status -- either the University is closed; or the University is open, but on-campus classes are canceled -- on the home page of the FHSU Web site. This official announcement serves as the most immediate and reliable information for students, faculty and staff regarding the University's operational status during severe weather.

4. Students, faculty and staff are advised to consult radio and television stations for information about the status of University operations during severe weather. Though not obligated to report information for the University, radio and television stations throughout the FHSU service area have been reliable about airing timely announcements of weather-related closings.

5. Upon being contacted by the Director of University Relations,the Director of TigerInfo will activate a recorded message -- either the University is closed; or the University is open, but on-campus classes are canceled. Students, faculty and staff are discouraged from calling the University during severe weather because only a recorded message will be available when TigerInfo personnel are unable to come to the campus.

6. When the operations of the University are affected beyond isolated temporary closing, and/or if the severe weather poses an imminent threat of danger to members of the University community, the Crisis Management Team may utilize the crisis notification system to alert the University community of any such threat and interference with University operations.

Announcement of severe weather status -- daytime weather

1. When severe weather occurs during the day, the President may decide to close the University, or he may decide to cancel classes but keep the University open.

2. Upon being informed of a change in status due to severe weather, the Director of University Relations will announce the President's decision on the campus email system. The Director of University Relations also will contact the University Webmaster, the Director of TigerInfo and the Director of the Sternberg Museum of Natural History.

3. Upon being contacted by the Director of University Relations, the Webmaster will immediately post the operational status -- either the University is closed; or, the University is open, but on-campus classes are canceled -- on the home page of the FHSU Web site.

4. Upon being contacted by the Director of University Relations, the Director of TigerInfo will activate a recorded message -- either the University is closed; or, the University is open, but on-campus classes are canceled. Students, faculty and staff are discouraged from calling the University during severe weather because only a recorded message will be available when TigerInfo personnel are unable to come to the campus.

Status of Sternberg Museum during severe weather

1. If the University closes, the museum also will close. The Director of University Relations will make the announcements to the electronic media for both the University and the museum. The Reservations Manager will notify any groups that had scheduled visits that day. The University Webmaster will post the information on the museum’s Web page. The Office Manager (or the Reservations Manager in her absence) will put a voice mail about the closing on 628-4286. Whoever is able to make it to the museum will put a sign on the door.

2. If the University opts not to hold classes but asks staff to show up for work if possible, the museum will be closed but all staff members except students and visitor services staff should show up for work if possible. The Director of University Relations will make the announcements to the media for both the University and the museum. The Reservations Manager will notify any groups that had scheduled visits that day. The University Webmaster will post the information on the museum’s Web page. The Office Manager (or the Reservations Manager in her absence) will put a voice mail about the closing on 628-4286.

3. If the University remains open for classes but announces that evening classes have been canceled, the museum will remain open to the public until 5 p.m. and staff members should keep their normal work schedules. The Director of University Relations will make the announcements to the media for both the University and the museum. The Reservations Manager will notify any groups that had scheduled visits that day after 5 p.m. The University Webmaster will post the information on the museum’s Web page. The Office Manager (or the Reservations Manager in her absence) will put a voice mail about the closing on 628-4286 before leaving work. The Visitor Services Manager (or the Reservations Manager in his absence) will put a sign on the door before leaving work.

4. If a special event of the museum coincides with a weather emergency, the Director (or, in his absence, the Reservations Manager) will be responsible for deciding whether to hold the event, postpone it or cancel it. The Reservations Manager (or the Office Manager in his absence) will be responsible for notifying the Director of University Relations so that he can notify the media. The University Webmaster will post the information on the museum’s Web page. The Office Manager (or the Reservations Manager in her absence) will put a voice mail about the special event on 628-4286 before leaving work. The Visitor Services Manager (or the Reservations Manager in his absence) will put a sign on the door before leaving work.

5. The Director (or the Reservations Manager in his absence) will make the judgment whether to close the museum entirely or early on weekends. That person will inform the Director of University Relations so that he can release the information to the electronic media. The Reservations Manager will notify any groups that had scheduled visits that day. The University Webmaster will post the information on the museum’s Web page. The Office Manager (or the Reservations Manager in her absence) will put a voice mail about the closing on 628-4286. The Visitor Services Manager (or the Reservations Manager in his absence) will put a sign on the door.

Status of Virtual College face-to-face and IPTV classes

1. The President, in consultation with the Provost, will determine after 1 p.m. on the day in question whether Virtual College face-to-face and IPTV classes (classes starting at 4 p.m. or later) should be canceled due to severe weather.

2. When Virtual College face-to-face and IPTV classes are canceled by the University, the Director of University Relations will notify the electronic media in the affected areas and request public service announcements of the cancellations. Students are advised to monitor radio and television stations for information about the status of Virtual College classes in their area.

3. When Virtual College face-to-face and IPTV classes are canceled by the University, the Director of University Relations will notify TigerInfo. TigerInfo will provide cancellation information to callers. However, this is not the preferred method for Virtual College face-to-face and IPTV students to receive information about cancellations because TigerInfo personnel may not be available if the Hays campus is also closed by severe weather.

4. When Virtual College face-to-face and IPTV classes are canceled by the University, the Director of University Relations will notify the University Webmaster, who will immediately post a notice on the home page of the FHSU Web site for the affected areas. This official announcement serves as the most immediate and reliable information for Virtual College face- to-face and IPTV students during severe weather.

5. When Virtual College face-to-face and IPTV classes are canceled by the University, the Virtual College staff will attempt to notify all students enrolled in the affected classes about the change in schedule by telephone. Calls to students will be made immediately after the decision to cancel classes at an off-campus site is made. Calls are made to numbers listed on students' TigerTracks accounts.

6. Students should contact their instructors about assignments and make-up information.

Special instructions for tornadoes and other violent weather

1. When the University receives notification of a severe weather watch or warning from the National Weather Service, the University Police will, as time and conditions permit, activate the severe weather plan by calling key departments. Specifically, the University Police Department will attempt to contact the Residence Hall staff and inform them of the weather condition and advise them to monitor their police radios for continuous updates. Residence Hall personnel should keep their radios on and monitor them until University Police advises them that they can be turned off.

2. When time and conditions permit, the Director of Police or designee will contact the University Relations Office, President’s Office and Student Affairs so that official notifications can be sent out.

3. All department heads, directors and supervisors should familiarize their staff with key terms in this policy. In addition, they should discuss this emergency plan with their staff at the beginning of each academic year and with new personnel upon beginning work. Managers and supervisors are urged to become familiar with the characteristics of their respective buildings so they can better promote the safety of all students, faculty, staff and visitors should severe weather occur.

4. During uncertain weather conditions, it is not always prudent or necessary to wait until formal notification of impending danger. Listen to the radio or watch local television. If you see any revolving funnel-shaped clouds, report them by telephone immediately. Do not use the telephone to get information and advice; monitor radio or television broadcasts.

5. The following procedures will be followed during severe weather warnings.

 Severe Thunderstorm Warning: Sirens will not sound. Supervisors should monitor the situation if uncertainty exists regarding weather conditions. All building personnel should be alert for damaging wind or hail. If the likelihood of damage exists, staff and building users should evacuate the areas of danger and seek a protected inner hallway or area that does not have exposed windows.

 Tornado Warning: Sirens will sound if it appears a tornado is imminent. Everyone should go to designated tornado shelters. Building or maintenance supervisors will utilize available staff to occupy “key locations” (stairwells, doors, etc.) and guide people to the safest and most direct route to a secure area. Large open areas with wide roof spans such as auditoriums, gymnasiums, cafeterias and ballrooms must be checked and cleared of people. The safest areas usually are lowest levels interior hallways and away from glass windows. People should not seek shelter in laboratories, which contain hazardous substances, e.g., in the chemistry and biology departments.

 The on-duty officer will also alert the public of the Tornado Warning by using the hi-lo siren signal and public address system. The standard message, "Attention, tornado warning, take cover," is to be broadcast. The on-duty officer will also make contact with populated areas such as open halls, athletic events, camps or Forsyth Library to alert citizens to the dangerous weather. 

If Areas are evacuated: Where applicable, employees are instructed to secure all monies, lock all cash registers and secure backup diskettes and valuables unless doing so would jeopardize their safety. The custodial personnel on duty will lock off all elevators and direct building users to use only safe stairwells. Freight elevators can be used for disabled persons in wheelchairs.

 Regardless of when the warning occurs, all persons should remain under cover until an all-clear from the National Weather Service is reported by local radio stations. Sirens are not used for an all-clear signal and will only be used when a tornado warning is issued.

If damage is observed after the all-clear is given, contact the University Police Department at (785) 628-5304. After office hours: (785) 625-1011. If it is an emergency, call 911. If damage to the building leaves the area uninhabitable, the damage or destruction of University property protocol will be activated. In the event personal injury occurs as a result of severe weather, the following procedures should be observed:

Call 911. Advise the dispatcher of the location and extent of any injuries. Information regarding respiratory or cardiac failure and/or severe bleeding should be reported.

Normal emergency first-aid procedures should be followed.

Recommended emergency office equipment: flashlight, portable radio, spare batteries, first aid kit.

If a telephone is not available, someone should be sent to a working telephone to report any injuries.

Do not return to a building once evacuated unless directed to do so by a University official or emergency personnel. Upon a confirmed tornado strike, all Crisis Management Team members will report to the Center for Public Safety as quickly as possible. The Team will evaluate the situation and determine a plan of action.

6. Police officers will report to the Center for Public Safety to receive assignments relating to patrolling, determining damage and making a preliminary size-up report to the department operations center.

7. The greatest hazard is from flying glass, so designated emergency tornado shelter areas for Academic and Service Buildings are as follows:

Akers Energy Center -- Restrooms and closets
Albertson Hall -- Interior first floor corridors in the old (north) section, away from entrances and windows
Brooks Building -- Interior rooms or basement of Grounds Building
Cunningham Hall - Interior corridors Custer Hall -- Basement and basement hallway
Davis Hall -- Interior corridors in the east wing. The shop wing should be evacuated.
Forsyth Library -- Basement
Gross Memorial Coliseum -- Under balcony, away from entrances
Grounds Building -- Interior rooms or basement
Heather Hall -- Corridor between main studio and storage room
Malloy Hall -- Interior corridors
Martin Allen Hall -- Southeast corner of main floor
McCartney Hall -- Interior corridors (2nd and 3rd floors), center of first floor
Memorial Union -- Recreation Center in basement (not in stairwell)
Motor Pool -- Parts room
Picken Hall -- Center of lower level corridor
Rarick Hall -- Interior corridors
Sheridan Hall -- Interior corridors, lower level or basement
Stadium Place -- Interior rooms without windows, or closets of apartments
Sternberg Museum -- First floor, under mezzanine
Stroup Hall -- Interior corridor between Computer Lab and Practice Laboratory
Tomanek Hall -- Interior corridors, lower level
Witt Building -- Interior hallway
McMindes and Wiest Halls -- lower levels, interior corridors away from windows
Wooster Place -- Residents are advised to take shelter in their apartments; use their judgment

Report damage or injury to the building supervisor, if possible, for relay to either the University Police or the Physical Plant. Multiple reports of the same event cause confusion. The following numbers will normally be attended in an emergency:

University Police - 628-5304
Physical Plant - 628-4424, 628-4180, 628-4238
Campus Operator - 0 or 628-4000

Please do not call to report a power outage. The campus is on one system, so if one building is out, they all are. Call only if a true emergency exists.

Search and rescue following a tornado strike

1. The Police Department will establish a security sector, isolate damaged areas and prevent unnecessary access. This sector is to be under the command of a senior police commander.

2. The Hays Fire Department will organize a search and rescue sector under the command of a senior fire department officer. This sector is to be divided into self-contained search and rescue task forces that include the fire department and University support staff. These task forces are to move into affected areas and conduct a primary search. Buildings that have been searched are to be marked with a large X.

3. The University administration will manage all aspects of recordkeeping, purchasing and public information related to the disaster emergency. This sector is also to keep informed and coordinate the necessary meetings and public proclamations required for disaster emergency action.