Weather Emergency Plan


Statutory: Minnesota Statute 43A.05, Subdivision 4.

The authority to cancel classes and close college or university campuses when weather or other emergency exists resides with the president or the president’s designee. The closure of state agencies by the Commissioner of Minnesota Management & Budget (MMB) does not apply to Minnesota State colleges and universities. MSU Moorhead will follow any declaration of a State of Emergency declared by the Governor.

Board Authority

4.4 Weather / Short Term Emergency Closings

President’s Designees

President Tim Downs has delegated to the following persons the responsibility for implementing this plan:

Winter Storm Emergencies

If travel is possible in the immediate Moorhead/Fargo/West Fargo area, the University will usually try to avoid calling off classes and/or closing the campus. Each individual must take into account their own circumstances for travel to campus and decide accordingly whether or not travel is safe.

Campus Consultation:

  • Ryan Nelson, Director of Public Safety
  • Kyle Kopacek, Building & Grounds Maintenance Supervisor
  • Brenda Norris, Executive Director of Facilities Management
  • Dan Heckaman, Associate VP Finance & Administration and Campus Information Officer Information Technology

MSUM’s established protocol for making weather/short term emergency-related decisions:

MSUM participates in regional weather briefings which include both public and private K-12 and higher education institutions throughout the Fargo-Moorhead area.

    • The North Dakota State Climatologist compares three different weather models (North American Nested model, National Weather Service model, and the European model) to prepare the regional weather briefing for the group.
    • The briefing includes weather graphs showing hourly precipitation (snow or rain), temperature, wind speed, and wind chill for the Fargo-Moorhead area.


When a decision is made, the following notifications will be made:

      • Official listservs (communication templates below)
        • Employee
        • Student
      • Dragon Alert emergency notification system message (communication templates below)
      • Local media will be notified

Essential Staffing Requirements

An essential employee is defined as:

Positions and employees of the University who provide services that are essential to the well-being of students, those service activities available for students living on campus, and those functions deemed essential to personal safety and the protection or preservations of the State’s investments such as property during an emergency.

The kinds of weather related closings that may occur are:

    • Cancellation of Classes: The President or designee may decide to cancel classes. In this case, no employees are excused from work. Employees must communicate absences from work to their supervisor through their normal call-in procedures and may request leave time to cover any work absences.
    • Campus Closure: The President or designee may decide to close the campus. When this happens, all non-essential employees are excused from work with pay without regard to labor contracts. Group 1 essential employees are required to report to work for their next normally assigned shift at their regular rate of pay. All other essential employee groups will be notified about reporting to work. Every essential employee must take into account their own personal circumstances and decide if it is safe to travel to work. Any absence from work must be immediately communicated to the supervisor through normal call-in procedures and the employee may request leave time to cover any work absence. Circumstances may change after the campus has been closed. A supervisor may determine the services of essential employees who are on duty at that time are no longer needed and essential employees may be released from work with pay.