Update: University cancels all classes until 5 p.m. Friday

Julia Brouillette and Jordan Rudner

Update (9:33 a.m.): The University announced all classes will be cancelled Friday until 5 p.m., citing a "continued threat of hazardous road conditions."

Buildings that will remain open include the Union, Student Activity Center, Kinsolving, Kin’s Market, Jester City Limits and Jester City Market. Littlefield Patio and Cypress Market will be closed.

Road conditions are expected to improve as temperatures increase this afternoon, University administrators said in the emailed announcement.

Essential personnel, defined by the University Policy Office as "employees designated by their departments as vital to the operation of the University," are required to be present unless otherwise released from duty by their department head.

Austin Independent School District announced classes would be cancelled, but AISD will return to normal operations after 4:45 p.m. Capital Metro announced UT shuttles will not operate today, with the exception of the metro airport route.

Original: Citing “winter weather” for the second consecutive day, University administrators announced a delayed start on Friday. Classes and other University operations will begin at noon.

UT spokesman Gary Susswein said the University’s early announcement to delay opening Friday is reflective of an increased commitment to timeliness on behalf of the University, AISD and the city government. Historically, delayed-start decisions have been made at roughly 3 a.m. on the day a weather event is forecasted to occur.

“We’ve always been cautious about the safety of our students, but after last week, there was a recognition that we could be more timely, that we could do things better,” Susswein said. “There is definitely new vigilance in light of what happened last week. People were upset, and they had a right to be. Local government, AISD — we’re all working together to be mindful of the fact that we need to make decisions early enough for people to plan their lives.”

According to Troy Kimmel, the incident meteorologist for the UT Campus Safety and Security Committee, students should expect to see scattered patches of light rain early Friday morning. The National Weather Service issued a winter weather advisory for the area from 6 a.m. until 12 p.m.

“It’s not expected to be a heavy precipitation event, it’s expected to be light,” Kimmel said. “We had a light precipitation event last week too, and it created a lot of problems.”

Kimmel said Thursday’s cold temperatures will also affect the likelihood of ice on Friday.

“All exposed objects, pretty much everything right now, are pretty cold, so any precipitation that falls early tomorrow is going to get icy pretty quick,” Kimmel said.

Susswein said the administration has acknowledged the weather that has forced four late-starts or closures in the last several weeks.

“This is obviously an unusual winter, and there’s a lot of dangerous weather activity going on,” Susswein said. “After last week, we refined our system.”

Last week, University administrators came under fire after deciding the University would stay open, then have a delayed start, then close entirely, all within the same eight-hour period. Some students were already in their 8 a.m. classes when they heard the University had technically closed.

Akira Conley, an international relations and global studies junior who lives off campus, said she was frustrated by how late the decision was made to close campus.

“I drove right around Rio Grande around 7, and I walked to class at 7:45,” Conley said last week. “It kind of sucked — they hadn’t put any sand or salt down to get rid of the ice. People were literally crawling down 24th Street. My friend fell.”

Conley said her government class was not cut short when the University announced closures.

“We sat through the entire class because the professors weren’t informed about what was going on,” Conley said.

Classes whose meeting times overlap with noon will be cancelled entirely or have delayed start times in accordance with individual faculty members decisions.

“Students should follow faculty instructions with regard to those class start times,” the statement read.

AISD schools and offices will also be closed Friday.

To read about the impact closures will have on course syllabi and schedules, read here.