Winter weather conditions and “snow day” protocol at UBC Okanagan

In the event of heavy snow or an extreme weather event, visit the UBC Okanagan home page (ok.ubc.ca) for the latest updates. The UBC Okanagan website is the official source for snow/extreme weather information.

For information on public transit conditions, consult Kelowna Regional Transit and Vernon Regional Transit.

Did you know that UBC Okanagan doesn’t “close” during a snow storm?

A snowfall event may prompt the cancellation of classes or curtailment of some non-essential services, but even if a “snow day” is called, the University remains open.

Here’s what UBC’s Board of Governors policy says about it:

“The University will remain open during snow storms but may cancel or reschedule classes on a university-wide basis and/or curtail non-essential services in response to conditions.”
— (UBC Policy #68: Disruption Of Classes/Services By Snow)

Campus Safety

During extreme weather, UBC Okanagan Facilities Management are responsible for managing snow and ice. Find out more about how campus will be kept safe during extreme weather, and how to report slippery conditions on the UBCO Facilities Management website.

To help keep yourself safe, please ensure you wear appropriate footwear when outdoors and use the main entrances of buildings.

Who decides to cancel classes and call a snow day?

In the event of extreme snowfall, university officials closely monitor weather and travel conditions, consulting with BC Transit, School District 23 and local public safety authorities to determine the weather’s severity.

The Deputy Vice-Chancellor and Principal may decide that inclement weather warrants the cancellation of classes. During a snow day, all classes (credit and non-credit) are cancelled for the day and wherever possible they will be rescheduled. All essential services remain active.

While each snowfall event is different, generally if BC Transit is still running its regular service, public schools are still open, and no local travel safety notices are published by the City of Kelowna or the RCMP, it is reasonable to expect UBC Okanagan will maintain regularly scheduled classes.

How is a snow day communicated?

A decision is initially communicated to all the deans and senior administrators. In the event of an overnight snowfall, the objective is to make the decision and begin communicating it by 6 a.m.

If classes are cancelled, a notice would be posted on the UBC Okanagan homepage at ok.ubc.ca, in UBC Okanagan’s primary social media channels (Twitter and Facebook), and local news media would notified as early as possible.

The UBC Alert messaging system may also be used to communicate the information via text messaging and voice calls.

Sign up to receive UBC Alert emergency messages

Department Heads and Administrators should have clear procedures in place to notify students, staff and faculty when classes are cancelled and non-essential services are curtailed.

Make sure all faculty and staff know the procedures, and how they are to learn about winter weather disruptions. This may include posting signs in high-traffic areas, updates on the Faculty or Department home page, emails, social media posts (reposting the original notices), and telephone trees.

What are the essential services?

Essential services include food services needed for students in residence, the functioning of the heating plants and maintenance of security.

Those individuals assigned as essential services for their areas (designated by their supervisor) are expected to work during snow days.

Do I have to go to work during a snow day?

When classes are cancelled due to snow and non-essential services are curtailed, faculty and staff scheduled to work will be paid their regular salary/wages if they choose to stay home.

If you are proceeding to classes or work, stay safe on your commute. Employees who cannot report to work due to the snow should contact their supervisors as early as possible.

Can I leave work early on a snowy day?

In the event of deteriorating conditions during a person’s normal workday, administrators have the authority, upon receiving communication originating in the Deputy Vice-Chancellor and Principal’s office, to permit staff not designated as essential services to leave early without loss of pay.

Human Resources Contacts

If you have any questions or concerns about staffing in the event of a winter storm, please contact Human Resources.