Planning for Emergencies & Inclement Weather

Cornell University strives to ensure we are thoughtfully and proactively planning to ensure proper and safe access in times of emergency or severe weather for all students, including students whose disabilities impact their ability to navigate campus under such circumstances. When you register with Student Disability Services (SDS) for either a permanent or temporary physical, medical, or sensory disability, there will be an opportunity to discuss and plan for such situations. 

Emergency Evacuation Planning

If you are unable to use stairs, hear alarms, safely see, or expediently exit in an emergency situation, SDS will work with you to create an emergency evacuation plan for exiting your on campus residence and classroom buildings.

Creating an emergency evacuation plan for exiting residence halls will be a collaboration between you, SDS staff, and the appropriate residence hall staff in order to determine the best plan for safely exiting. This plan will take into account your room location in relation to exits, as well as any disability related needs staff should be aware of. Once you and residential staff sign off on the plan, it will be shared with the ADA Coordinator for Facilities, CU Police, Environmental Health and Safety first responder staff, and the Director of Residential and New Student Programs.  

With your permission, your SDS counselor will share your class schedule with first responder staff so that they are aware of which buildings you are in at which times, should there be an emergency requiring evacuation. You and your SDS counselor will identify if there are buildings you are able to safely exit on your own (i.e. your class in on the ground floor near the accessible exit) and if there are buildings where you would need first responder assistance.  In these cases an appropriate safe location will be identified where you would shelter in place until help arrives.  

Inclement Weather Situations

There are various severe weather situations, such as snowstorms and flooding, that could impact University operating status and/or travel around campus. The University does its best to safely transport students and clear paths of travel in such situations.  If you have a mobility disability and register with SDS, you will be invited to complete a Voluntary Inclement Weather Questionnaire (pdf). The purpose of this is to assist with timely snow removal or clearing paths of travel that are used by you, such as around your residence hall and the academic buildings you will be attending throughout the day.  

After you complete the Voluntary Inclement Weather Questionnaire with an SDS staff member, the information will be shared with the ADA Coordinator in Facilities Management to coordinate a plan for clearing paths of travel with University Grounds/Maintenance.  Timely snow or ice removal is a continual challenge in the winter so this process is an attempt to address your individual travel challenges.  

CULift Inclement Weather Protocol

In the event that Cornell University is closed and classes are canceled because of inclement weather, CULift services will not be provided. University operating status, which includes any closing information, will be available online, as well as weather information and alerts.

If the university closes or if CULift deems it necessary to suspend service after students have been transported to campus, CULift will contact riders at the cell phone numbers provided by riders to arrange transport back to their residences as quickly and safely as possible. (Each rider needs to be sure CULift has his or her cell phone number, or let CULift know if he or she does not have a cell phone.)

In cases of inclement weather where Cornell University is open, but a professor cancels a class session, or where a rider chooses not to attend class, please use the online CULift web scheduling system to cancel rides. Cancelling can also be done by calling the CULift dispatcher at: 607-254-8293 (or if after 4pm, by calling the night driver at 607-227-5996). When heavy snow is falling but the university remains open, rides may need to be adjusted or they may be delayed.

Please be patient. Roads and sidewalks may not be cleared in time for classes. If you have any concerns about snow removal or your path of travel, let us know. You may also complete the Voluntary Inclement Weather Questionnaire (pdf) to provide information.

Additional Resources and Information