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The newspaper of The Johns Hopkins University November 28, 2005 | Vol. 35 No. 12
Snowing Out There? Here's What You Need to Do

By Dennis O'Shea

You wake up. It's snowing outside. Your first instinct is to roll over, flip on the radio and find out if Johns Hopkins is closed for the day.

Don't do it.

We recommend that you roll the other way and pick up the phone instead. Or get out of bed completely (you're gonna have to eventually!) and check the Web.

The fastest and most accurate source for Johns Hopkins snow closings and other weather emergency information at the university is the weather emergency phone line. Call 410-516-7781 or, from areas where Baltimore is a long-distance call, 800-548-9004.

The same information is also posted online at

Chances are that, on any given snowy day, calling the hot line or checking the Web page will just confirm what you'd already guessed: The university is open. Johns Hopkins policy is to remain open whenever possible, both because so many employees and students are involved in patient care and because minimizing interruption of teaching and research is a priority.

Even on those rare occasions when there is a late opening or a closure, outpatient clinical services usually remain open. In fact, the oncology clinics never close, even in the worst weather emergency.

All required attendance employees in nonclinical departments of the university also have to get to work (check with your supervisor if you are not sure whether you are a required attendance employee).

All that information — and much more, about snow day shuttle bus schedules, Peabody Prep, evening classes, and library and rec center operations — will be posted on the phone line and the Web site.

Radio and TV stations, which deal with closing announcements for scores of institutions, do not have time to provide all the relevant Johns Hopkins information. And since they must compress their Johns Hopkins reports so much, down to just a few words, broadcast information can be misleading. Frankly, it can also be just plain wrong.

When you call the weather emergency line, you get all the available details. You don't have to wait for it, either. There's no need to waste minutes watching the crawl at the bottom of your TV screen or endure a radio announcer's litany of school after school after school. When you call, the latest Johns Hopkins information is there.

And it's there immediately. As soon as the university decides what to do during a snowstorm, the weather emergency line message is recorded and the Web page is posted. That usually occurs by 6 a.m. after an overnight storm. Decisions on part-time evening classes are usually made by 1 p.m. During major storms, both the line and the Web page are updated frequently with new information.

University policy on weather-related closings is also online, at

The sections on the Required Attendance Plan, Liberal Leave Plan and Delayed Arrival Plan explain what happens if those options are invoked by the university.

The hospital's weather emergency policy is also online, at OPS/weather.cfm.


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