It’s not officially winter yet, but it’s clearly on its way.
Last week, Nova Scotia got its first snowstorm of the year, and while the circumstances of it did not cause any university closures, it offers a good reminder that more snow lies ahead for the upcoming season.
In winter 2018-19, Dal’s Halifax and Truro campuses each closed twice due to winter weather, with Truro also having one morning where it delayed opening. Some years, that number can be higher. When campuses close, classes are not held, exams are rescheduled, university buildings and services may be closed, and most faculty/staff do not report to work.
Given all this, the decision to close campus is not made lightly, and considers many different factors: current and forecasted weather conditions; feedback from Facilities Management on the condition of campus roads, sidewalks and entrances; the state of roads and public transit; and the anticipated conditions during commute periods.
“It’s not an easy decision, but we look at all the data we have and the conditions at the time to try and make the best decision for our university community,” says Mike Burns, director of Dal Security, who advises the vice-president finance and administration (who makes the final call) on storm closures.
DalSafe – your source for the latest on closures and more
When it comes to keeping the Dal community informed when it comes to storms and other campus closures of note, that’s where DalSAFE comes in.
You may be already familiar DalSAFE, as the university has had to use it a few times this fall. It was used communicate the closure to the McCain Building in October, for example. as well as multiple power outages that led to closures on the Halifax campuses.
“The safety of our community is our highest priority,” says Burns. “While power outages may seem like a small inconvenience, emergency lighting in many of our campus buildings lasts for only an hour, maybe to. So, in a longer outage, we need to close affected campuses and buildings while emergency power is still on so people can safely exit.”
So what is DalSAFE?
First, DalSAFE is an app: available for both iOs and Android, it provides notifications about campus safety and security as well as quick and easy access to Security Services, Tiger Patrol, interactive maps, parking info, and many other resources. The app even sends notifications about potentially significant weather systems.
But when conditions get more serious, DalSAFE is also an integrated messaging system through which Dal sends “Campus Alerts” about campus closures, hazards and other significant, urgent events affecting the university — across multiple platforms. This includes notifications from the DalSAFE app, but can also include text messages (by subscription), your dal.ca email, the dal.ca website and Dal’s major Twitter accounts.
DalSAFE can also send notifications and messages specific to Halifax or Truro, as conditions may different at either location.
Your winter weather checklist
Ahead of the winter storm season, here’s a checklist of things for students, faculty and staff to make sure they stay informed about closures and more:
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