Operational Changes FAQ

SMU Aware – FAQs About Operational Changes at SMU


[Updated March, 9 2023] There may be occasions when SMU needs to alter its operating schedule due to inclement weather or other emergency conditions.

The following frequently asked questions explain how SMU alters its operations and the expectations for how SMU employees should work during these conditions.


Q. Who makes the decision to alter the University schedule?

A. The President or the President’s designee is the only employee authorized to make a decision to alter the University’s operations.


Q. What factors are used when officials consider altering the operating schedule?


A. The decision to alter the University's operating schedule will be made after consideration of these factors:

  • Official weather and other emergency service reports from the National Weather Service, the Texas Department of Public Safety, and other local, state, and federal agencies as appropriate for the emergency. Additional factors to be considered are the operational status of other schools and businesses in the area.
  • The condition of main campus sidewalks, buildings, parking lots, grounds and landscaping, utilities, and public and campus transportation.

Q. If SMU alters its operations due to inclement weather or some other emergency issue, how do I know if I should report to work?

A. An essential employee is defined as an employee whose job duties affect the security, safety, physical operation, or continuity of business operation of SMU (including providing basic life and safety needs for residential students).

Each PEC member is responsible for determining which positions are essential within their areas and are responsible for communicating essential status to their employees. (See Policy 7.7)

Q. How are essential employees categorized?

A. Essential employees fall within two categories: On-campus Essential and Remote Essential.

a. On-Campus Essential – Working on campus:

  • Continuation of critical and/or essential services that must be completed on-site
  • Maintaining integrity of infrastructure, property or systems on-site.
  • Necessary on-campus work to maintain the safety and wellbeing of students, faculty and staff.

b. Remote Essential – Working from a remote location:

  • Work is required to maintain operations and business continuity of the University and can be completed remotely.
  • Supervisor-approved access to campus may be needed periodically to complete required work.

Essential Emergency Response personnel, as defined in Policy 7.7, will be mobilized as needed to support students residing on campus and to respond to emergency conditions.

Remote Essential employees should have access to their work computers/laptops and any other technology or material necessary for their job at the remote work location. If there is a possibility that the University’s operating schedule may change, these employees should remember to take with them what they need to use to work remotely.

Employees who do not know their employee classification should check with their supervisor.

Q. I am not designated as on-campus or remote essential. What do I do when the University alters its operating schedule?

A. Some job duties cannot be completed remotely. Employees who are not designated as on-campus or remote essential are not expected to work when campus operations are altered and will be paid by recording their time as business interruption pay (BIP).

Q. How does SMU communicate changes in its operating schedule to students, faculty and staff?

A. Marketing and Communications will communicate the decision through appropriate channels which may include a text and/or e-mail message to all students, faculty and staff, information posted to the SMU Aware and main SMU websites, SMU social media channels and notifications to local news media.

Q. Where are the policies related to changing SMU’s operating schedule and the definitions of employee classifications?

A. Please refer to Policy 9.12 University Operations Affected by Emergency Conditions and Policy 7.7 Employee Classifications.