Inclement Weather

As a research school, many support services at the Harvard T.H Chan School of Public Health continue both during holiday periods and during periods of official closure. From time to time, weather conditions are sufficiently extreme or hazardous such that normal administrative and/or academic operations are suspended, and only essential support services are provided.

In the event of severely inclement weather, decisions related to the suspension of normal operations—including delayed starts, early releases, office closings, and cancellation of classes—will be made by the Dean’s Office in consultation with the University Crisis Management Team (CMT) and the HSPH Local Emergency Management Team (LEMT).

Designated Personnel

Throughout the year, each school unit (department/center, etc.) will ensure all staff understand their status for weather related events, as designated or non-designated, including whether they are expected to report to work if the school decides to alter working business hours or suspend normal operations for the day.


Any changes to schedules will be communicated in the following ways:

  • The HSPH homepage ( will post an alert and direct users to information on the School’s response.
  • The School’s 24-hour news line, (617) 432-NEWS (617-432-6397), will be updated with any University response to severe weather. This news line also confirms when the School is operating under normal conditions. School information will also be communicated to local TV stations WCVB (Ch. 5), WHDH (Ch. 7), and New England Cable News (NECN).
  • A School-wide email message from the Communications Office or Operations Office will communicate any decisions related to the suspension of normal operations—including delayed starts, early releases, cancellation of classes, or suspension of normal operations.

MessageMe Alert

A MessageMe text message alert will be sent to all HSPH employees when decisions have been made regarding delayed starts, early releases, or the suspension of normal operations. Designated personnel should always follow their specific department policies and the guidance provided by their local leadership. To ensure all of your devices are set up to receive alerts from Harvard University, and to adjust your notification preferences, please visit

Location-Specific Instructions

Because HSPH is located in Boston and the University is primarily in Cambridge, there may be times when HSPH-specific instructions are necessary. This could be due to weather patterns, traffic conditions, or local government response to storm conditions. HSPH communications should be referenced for location-specific instructions in addition to any communications from the University.

Employee Responsibility

Absent a suspension of normal operations, staff should consult with their manager on working arrangements.

Non-Designated Personnel

  • Non-designated personnel who determine that their particular location or circumstances make it unsafe for them to travel, or have dependent care needs, may choose to stay home and will normally be expected to cover the absence with vacation or personal time.
  • If there is a suspension of normal operations, a resulting absence will be considered paid time off and will not be charged to a staff member’s vacation or personal time.
    • Instructions on time reporting will be sent out by the Human Resources Office;
    • If a staff member had a planned vacation or was otherwise not scheduled to work, that  time would not be adjusted.

Designated Personnel

  • For employees who have been designated as essential, the normal work expectations apply: Every effort should be made to come to work, absent a previously approved absence or illness. In consideration of the safety of our employees, designated personnel, who find themselves in a specific circumstance that would make travel unsafe, must contact their supervisor as soon as possible for approval to be absent and to follow-up with the supervisor whenever a change in circumstances makes it safe to do so.
  • Departments/Center, etc., should establish protocols to ensure that designated employees understand how to proceed if they are unable to come to work, especially in the case of the suspension of normal operations. Designated personnel are to refer to their local department policies regarding emergency response.


On rare occasions when the University closes, classes are not to be held, even on Zoom. When the University is open but area public schools are closed, we will ask instructors with unsafe commutes to let their students know ASAP—ideally the night before—that they will use Zoom and hold class online. The School will communicate the status (whether the University is closed or local directives are being made) to all instructors using the channels outlined above.

Contingent Workers and Meetings

If there is an official suspension of normal operations, local management should ensure any temporary or contract workers are notified. Additionally, appointments or interviews scheduled that day with non-employees will also need to be cancelled. It is expected that managers will bring the necessary information home with them prior to a severe storm in order to contact these non-employee constituents when there is an official weather-related suspension of normal operations.