UWF Severe Weather Frequently Asked Questions

The University of West Florida is committed to supporting UWF students, faculty and staff before, during and after severe weather. Below is an FAQ page with the most commonly asked storm-related questions by our students, faculty and staff. As you navigate through this webpage, you will find there are several resources to assist you, including information on returning to class and getting back on track academically, shelters and financial aid.


Weather Preparedness

When does the University begin monitoring for potential hurricanes that may impact UWF? UWF constantly monitors tropical system formation in the Atlantic Basin throughout the year and especially during the hurricane season, which runs from June 1 to Nov. 30. As storm systems approach our area, the University community will be notified and kept informed of the progress of such systems.

How does the University decide to close during inclement weather? UWF constantly monitors information provided by the National Weather Service. Decisions to close are based on input from the NWS and in coordination with the Escambia County and State of Florida Emergency Operations Centers. The information is provided to the University's Emergency Management Team, who make any necessary closure decisions.

How can I stay updated about hurricanes and tropical storms? In the event of a hurricane or tropical storm approaching Northwest Florida, University officials communicate with students via email, uwf.edu, UWF social media outlets (Facebook and Twitter) and the UWF Mobile Alert text messaging system. Additional communication outlets include desktop/computer notifications and loud speakers/sirens and electronic displays on campus, when necessary. Weather information is available by tuning into WUWF at 88.1FM or online at wuwf.org. Updates from the National Weather Service are available at weather.gov/mob, facebook.com/NWSMobile and twitter.com/nwsmobile

Shelters

Which shelters are available for residential students? When hurricane conditions are expected in the Pensacola area, UWF residential students may be directed to evacuate to the on-campus shelter. A decision regarding student evacuation to the shelter will be made as the storm progresses and communicated in a timely manner to residential students. The official on-campus hurricane shelter for UWF residential students is located in the Hal Marcus Science and Engineering, Building 4. If sheltering beyond the storm becomes necessary due to loss of power, damage to buildings, etc., sheltered students will be moved from Building 4 to the University Commons, Building 22, pending the appropriate clearance of Building 22. In some circumstances it may be appropriate to shelter in place. To learn more about residential student operations, visit the storm preparedness webpage.

Which shelters are available for non-residential students, faculty and staff? All non-residential students, faculty and staff seeking shelter should report to one of the designated county shelters: Escambia County, Okaloosa County and Santa Rosa County.

If my family needs to stay in Pensacola are there available spaces on campus? Families evacuating from affected areas should contact the designated county shelters: Escambia County, Okaloosa County and Santa Rosa County. These facilities are staffed with emergency volunteers and equipped with food, water and other essentials. Residential students with specific needs may contact UWF Housing for information about limited guest housing by calling 850.474.2463 or emailing housing@uwf.edu. Housing staff will assist on a case-by-case basis to determine the best course of action. The families of University employees who are required to work may also stay on campus during the storm.

Enrollment and Classes

I need to withdraw from the University as a result of inclement weather. Where do I start that process? If you haven’t talked with your academic advisor or program coordinator, check to see if there are options before withdrawing. This is also an important step as they will be able to document your withdrawal and help adjust your graduation plans to help keep you on track academically. To determine which withdrawal option best fits your circumstances, review the withdrawals webpage.

If I need to go home to help my family, will I be excused from class? Please notify your professors and let them know your situation. Also, reach out to your academic advisor and discuss your situation with them. Together, you may develop a plan of action to accommodate your situation and keep you on track academically.

I am unable to attend classes because I am dealing with weather-related issues. What should I do? Our top priority is your safety. If you live in an area impacted by a storm and are unable to travel to or participate in class, please notify your professors and let them know your situation. We ask faculty to work with you to develop a plan of action to accommodate you and keep you on track. Also, contact your academic advisor to work on a plan of action to handle your enrollment this semester. If you are unsure about who your academic advisor is, please visit the Academic Advising Directory.

How do I know if I need to drop my classes as a result of missing class? Please reach out to your professors. They will let you know your academic standing in the class and if makeup work is possible. After reviewing your options, work with your academic advisor or the Office of the Registrar regarding options for withdrawing from your courses.

If I have a friend from an affected area of inclement weather, can they enroll at UWF? The Office of Undergraduate Admissions will admit students that are currently enrolled at one of the State University System of Florida institutions. Students that may transfer either temporarily or permanently should complete the Displaced Student Enrollment Form, and the Office of Undergraduate Admissions staff will contact each student to discuss enrollment options.

I am a fully-online student living in an area affected by inclement weather. What do I do? If you are participating in online courses from an area that has been affected by inclement weather, please contact your faculty members as soon as possible to let them know of your situation. We ask faculty to work with students to allow extra time on assignment completion and engagement in your fully online courses during inclement weather situations.

How will I know when it is safe to return to campus and classes will resume? Students will be notified that the University has reopened and classes will resume via email, uwf.edu, UWF social media outlets (Facebook and Twitter) and the UWF Mobile Alert text messaging system.

Financial Aid

If I or my parent lost a job due to inclement weather, can my financial aid be adjusted? If you have extenuating circumstances, such as loss of employment due to layoff, discharge, retirement or disability, please contact the Office of Financial Aid and Scholarships and speak with a financial aid counselor.

What if we lost tax returns and other documents in inclement weather that financial aid is requesting? Federal tax return transcripts can be obtained from irs.gov. The Office of Financial Aid and Scholarships will work with students and parents to waive verification documents lost in inclement weather, as permitted by the U.S. Department of Education.

Will dropping classes affect my financial aid? Students receiving financial aid who drop or withdraw from courses may be required to repay financial aid. Withdrawing from classes may impact Satisfactory Academic Progress. Students who are considering dropping or withdrawing should first speak with a financial aid counselor.

Will withdrawing from classes as a result of inclement weather affect my academic eligibility for Title IV financial aid? Students receiving financial aid who drop or withdraw from courses may be required to repay financial aid. Withdrawing from classes may impact Satisfactory Academic Progress. Students who are considering dropping or withdrawing should first speak with a financial aid counselor.

Student Support Services

If I have emergency support needs, whom should I contact? Students with emergency support needs should contact the Dean of Students Office at deanofstudents@uwf.edu or 850.474.2384.

I am struggling with the impact from inclement weather. Is there someone I can talk to for help? Counseling and Psychological Services has a counselor on call 24 hours a day to help UWF students in a psychological crisis. During normal business hours,  Monday through Friday from 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. when the University is open, call Counseling and Psychological Services at 850.474.2420 for immediate assistance or walk into Building 960, Suite 200A and ask to be seen. After hours, or when the University is closed, call 850.474.2420 and the automated system will instruct you on how to page the counselor on call. We also have helpful tips and links related to coping with the aftermath of a natural disaster on the Counseling and Psychological Services website. No matter how bad it seems in the moment, there is hope and there is help. Do not hesitate to reach out. We are here to help.

I have significant personal hardship as a result of inclement weather and I’m not sure what to do about classes. What should I do? Please contact your academic advisor in First Year Advising or your academic college who can help you find the appropriate resources. If you are unsure about who your academic advisor is, please visit the Academic Advising Directory. Other offices you may want to contact for assistance include the Dean of Students (850.474.2384, deanofstudents@uwf.edu), Counseling and Psychological Services (850.474.2420, counselingservices@uwf.edu) and Financial Aid (850.474.2400, finaid@uwf.edu).

I am a current student and my family home was impacted by inclement weather. I need to go home to help out. Can I cancel my UWF Housing contract? Housing will work with students on a case-by-case basis. Please contact housing staff by visiting Building 19, calling 850.474.2463 or emailing housing@uwf.edu.

Faculty and Staff

My family and friends have been devastated by inclement weather. How can we find help? The Aetna Employee Assistance Program is available for all University employees via phone at 800.272.7252 or online at mylifevalues.com (username and password are both UWF in all capital letters). The website features a disaster resources section that includes practical tips as well as resources for coping with a disaster. All services and calls are strictly confidential between the employee and Aetna.

What can I do to support students that may have been impacted? We encourage faculty members to work with students who have been directly impacted by inclement weather by assisting them with coursework outside of normal class hours (or through electronic means) until these students have been able to assist their families with the recovery effort. When appropriate, we also encourage faculty to consider excusing absences on a short-term basis for those students who have been directly impacted by inclement weather.

Will the University closure impact my paychecks? University officials will make every effort to ensure that payroll services are not disrupted and regularly scheduled payroll occurs. Any changes or updates will be posted online to the UWF Human Resources website and emailed directly to faculty and staff.

I am part of an emergency response team and need to volunteer my time to aid in recovery efforts due to inclimate weather. Will my time away be waived? The President/designee may grant up to two days of administrative leave for civil disorder or disaster for an employee who is a member of a volunteer emergency response team, with the approval of your supervisor. You must show proof that you are a registered official volunteer.