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Closing Information

  1. When will a decision be made to close the College?
  2. Why doesn’t the College close when snow is forecast?
  3. How do I find out that the College is closed?
  4. How do I know my class will be held? Will my instructor be there?
  5. If the local schools are closed, why isn’t the College?
  6. I take a NOVA class at a local school. How do I know when my class is cancelled?
  7. Why were my classes cancelled when there was practically no snow at all?
  8. What will happen if I do not attend class because I decide it's too dangerous for me to come?
  9. If my class starts before the late opening time but continues afterward, should I come to campus?
  10. I came to class and right after it started the College closed. Why?
  11. Whom should I call to find out if the College is open?
  12. May I bring my child with me to campus when the schools are closed?
  13. Who is a designated employee?
  14. What is liberal leave?
  15. What if I work a special shift at the College?
  16. What is extended closing?

1. When will a decision be made to close the College?

If snow or ice develops overnight, a decision to close the College will be announced and posted to the front page of the College’s website by 5:00 a.m. If no announcement has been made by then, you can expect the College to open on time.

During the school day, an announcement will be made when decision makers determine that campus roads and parking lots or major highways are or will soon be too dangerous for students and employees to drive on. Decision makers expect drivers to be able to negotiate snowy conditions, but decide to close because accumulations or serious icing is taking place on and around the campuses. A decision to close will be announced immediately once it has been made, and will be communicated with as much notice as changing conditions permit. When the decision is made to close the College at a specific time, all College related activities will stop at the announced time.

2. Why doesn’t the College close when snow is forecast?

NOVA’s service region sits at a weather transition point at which forecasting is very difficult. Forecasters frequently hedge their bets about the likelihood of bad weather, and when they don’t, they are often wrong. NOVA closes when the weather emergency is at hand, and not before. We believe class time is precious and we should cancel classes only when it is necessary.

3. How do I find out that the College is closed?

If the weather is bad and you do not see or hear the closing announcement, check a second source. Sign up for NOVA Alert, and a text message will be sent to your cell phone when the College is closed. Check the homepage for a list of media and other sources of closing information to look to in case of bad weather. The closing announcement will also be reported right on the College’s homepage.

4. How do I know my class will be held? Will my instructor be there?

If an instructor cannot get to campus because of bad weather, he or she must notify the responsible division. The faculty member or the division will try to contact students using their NOVA email, so make sure to check your email messages.

5. If the local schools are closed, why isn’t the College?

Unlike public schools, NOVA does not operate a school bus system and uses different criteria to decide that it is appropriate to close. NOVA closes only when its own roads, parking lots, the main highways or the roads immediately around the campuses are too dangerous to negotiate safely. Thus, NOVA will often be open when other local schools are closed.

6. I take an NOVA class at a local school. How do I know when my class is cancelled?

If the College closes, classes at off-campus locations such as local schools will also be cancelled. If the College remains open but the school is closed, the NOVA class is cancelled for that day. So, students should pay attention to local school closing information if they are taking classes at a local school.

7. Why were my classes cancelled when there was practically no snow at all?

When the weather makes one campus too dangerous to keep open, NOVA closes all six of its campuses, regardless of what the conditions are at the other campuses. We serve a large geographic area, and it can be quite safe to drive in one place, but not in another. Media announcements must be clear and precise. Making individual campus announcements is likely to be confusing. In addition, students and staff often must travel from one side of our service area to another to come to campus, so bad roads in one region can keep people from getting to other campuses safely.

8. What will happen if I do not attend class because I decide it's too dangerous for me to come?

We realize that a general decision for the college cannot account for the individual circumstances of all students. Use your good judgment and be prompt in communicating your situation to your instructor.

9. If my class starts before the late opening time but continues afterward, should I come to campus?

When the college announces a delayed opening, any class with at least 45 minutes of class time remaining after the college opens will be held (for example, if the College opens at 10:00 a.m., a 9:30-10:45 a.m. class will begin at 10:00 a.m.). This procedure applies to all credit classes.

10. I came to class and right after it started the College closed. Why?

The safety of students and employees is the most important consideration. Sometimes decision makers get information indicating that the College should close at times that do not exactly coincide with the beginning and ending of every class. It is better to cancel the class in this case than to keep the students when conditions are getting dangerous. NOVA’s classes do not all start and stop on a uniform schedule. Any early closing time is likely to interrupt some classes.

11. Whom should I call to find out if the College is open?

The College uses several media sources to announce delays and closings. These may be found on our website under “Emergency Preparedness: Closing Information.” Closings and delays will also be posted on the NOVA home page. If you must call, call the Call Center at 703.323.3000 or 703.330.3770 (Prince William County). Messages will be posted there as soon as a decision to close is made. Do not call College offices to ask about closing.

12. May I bring my child with me to campus when the schools are closed?

No. The College has no facilities to care for children and children are often disruptive in the classroom / work place.

13. Who is a designated employee?

In snow emergencies, designated employees are police personnel and members of campus facilities staffs. The fact that they are designated as essential is set forth in their position descriptions and what this means to them is defined by their supervisors.

In other kinds of emergencies, any College employee can be declared “designated” by the College President or any of the vice presidents if the nature of the emergency requires that employee’s expertise.

14. What is liberal leave?

Liberal leave is a policy that goes into effect at NOVA when bad weather forces the closing of local public school districts in the College’s service region. It means that non-designated employees who determine that it is too dangerous to come to work when the College is open may call their supervisors and take a day of annual leave without advanced permission. It also means that when any employee is late to work because of weather-related road conditions, the tardiness will not be charged to the employee’s leave and there will be no discipline for being late that day. In addition, it means that non-designated employees may take annual leave leaving work early if they face a particularly difficult homeward commute, so long as their absence will not prevent critical functions from being performed.

15. What if I work a special shift at the College?

Supervisors of employees who work special shifts should make clear how closings or delayed openings affect attendance expectations.

16. What is extended closing?

Based upon the road conditions in the area, the College will determine and announce when an extended closing has occurred. Faculty are to communicate to students what their back-up-plan is for instruction when the college experiences an extended closure.

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