IU-Bloomington operations continued as scheduled Wednesday despite a “watch” travel advisory issued by Monroe County Emergency Management and a winter storm warning issued for central Indiana.
A watch advisory, according to the Indiana Department of Homeland Security website, means travel conditions threaten the safety of the public.
The Department of Homeland Security recommended only essential travel, meaning travel to and from work or in emergency situations, and recommended emergency action plans should be implemented by schools, government agencies and other organizations.
IU spokesman Mark Land said he and Provost Lauren Robel spoke with members of the facilities’ staff and the human resources department early Wednesday morning.
Based on that input, Robel decided not to cancel classes or close campus.
“It stopped snowing around midnight or so,” Land said. “Our guys had all night to work on it, and they had really done a nice job by five o’clock this morning.”
He said the group considered the weather forecast and road conditions and received input from Emergency Management as well.
“We get input on what the road conditions are in the city, what other local governmental agencies are doing,” he said. “Ultimately it’s the provost’s decision, but she gets a lot of input before she makes it.”
Monroe County has been under a watch advisory two other days in 2014 — both during the so-called polar vortex in early January.
IU President Michael McRobbie closed all IU campuses during the polar vortex. According to protect.iu.edu, IU-Bloomington was closed 9 p.m. Jan. 5 to 5 p.m. Jan. 7, with only essential personnel required to report to campus.
Land said it was simpler to close campus at that time than it would be when classes were in session, because there were few campus events scheduled, and many IU employees and students had not yet returned to campus.
He said the decision to close campus also took into account the dangerous weather conditions at the time.
“No one’s saying that it’s not snowy and slow and sloppy, but there’s a difference between inconvenience and if it’s safe to come to class,” Land said.
If classes were canceled, Land said, students and faculty would receive an announcement from IU Notify.
Yesterday, when there was no change in the status of campus operations, IU Communications announced on Twitter that campus would remain open and classes would meet as scheduled.
Monroe County was downgraded to “advisory,” the lowest local travel advisory status, at 11:56 a.m. Wednesday. An advisory status means routine travel may be restricted or hazardous in certain areas.
“There’s a lot of discussion,” Land said. “Obviously we don’t want to put anybody at risk, but at the same time we have a responsibility to educate students.”
Follow reporter Tori Fater on Twitter @vrfater.