Union College Responses to H1N1 Influenza

The following are recommendations for response to the current potential influenza outbreak. It is important for all of us to realize that the H1N1 situation may change rapidly and changes may be needed to these recommendations as the scenario unfolds.  These recommendations reflect our current understanding of procedures that will help to prevent the spread of H1N1. We will be closely monitoring this situation and will communicate with the campus when that becomes necessary. These recommendations follow guidelines set out by the CDC.

What to do about the flu?

Prevent if possible
All students, faculty and staff are encouraged to practice good health habits. Get eight hours of sleep each night, eat a nutritious diet, get regular exercise and enjoy fresh air. It is also important to practice hand hygiene and respiratory etiquette. Important flu prevention measures include staying home or in isolation when sick, washing hands frequently with soap and water when possible, and covering noses and mouths with a tissue when coughing or sneezing (or a shirt sleeve or elbow if no tissue is available).

Faculty, staff and students can help to prevent the spread of flu by wiping phones, keyboards, doorknobs with Lysol-type wipes. Washing hands frequently and using hand sanitizer are often the most important precautions.

Symptoms and first steps
Flu symptoms may include sore throat, coughing, achy muscles and may include fever. Students, faculty and staff with these symptoms should stay away from classes and work and limit interactions with other people (called self-isolation), except to seek medical care for at least 24 hours after they no longer have a fever, without the use of fever-reducing medicines or they no longer have symptoms if they have not had a fever. Some people with influenza will not have a fever; therefore, absence of fever does not mean absence of infection. Ill students should stay away from others during the time period even if they are taking antiviral drugs for treatment of the flu. For more information, visit http://www.cdc.gov/h1n1flu/guidance/exlusion.htm.

If students, faculty or staff have a medical condition that puts them at risk of severe illness from flu, or if they develop severe symptoms such as increased fever, shortness of breath, chest pain or pressure or rapid breathing, they should seek medical attention.  

Residence hall students

Residence hall students who become ill with flu-like symptoms must call or e-mail the school nurse at 2554 if they become ill during office hours. If they become ill outside of office hours, they should call the residence hall desk who will contact one of the student nurses: Sheri Herman, Kristi Joiner, Nicole Olson and Jonathan Greenberg. The nurse or student nurse will make contact with the ill student in their dorm room. When a student is placed on the flu list, it should be understood that they must remain in isolation until 24 hours after flu symptoms have ceased.

Residence hall students who become ill with the flu can travel to their home by private transportation to keep from making others sick. The recommendation to go home will depend on the support available to the student for getting to and from their home and the severity of the symptoms. These students should travel by private car instead of using public transportation if at all possible.

The college will make rooms available for students who become ill. Residence hall students who are unable to go home must move to these isolation rooms until 24 hours after they are symptom-free.

Non-residential students and college employees

Non-residential students, faculty and staff who become ill are asked to self-isolate at home until at least 24 hours after they are free of fever, or signs of a fever, without the use of fever-reducing medicines, or no longer have symptoms if they have not had a fever. In addition to notifying teachers and/or supervisors, ill students who live off-campus and all employees are asked to call or e-mail (cagibson [at] ucollege.edu) the school nurse at 2554 so that she is aware of the tally of those who are ill.

Reduce exposure

Those with flu symptoms should limit exposure to others in every way possible. For example, only one person should bring books and other needed items to a recovering student. Designating a “wellness buddy” in advance may be helpful. Most contact, including updates to teachers and other staff can be managed through e-mail, text messaging, phone calls or other methods with each student who is in isolation. 

Students and employees with flu-like symptoms are asked to refrain from any social interaction, which includes attending classes, going to Union Market, going to work, church or worships. The emergency absence policy relative to the flu will be communicated in each class. This policy will state that there will be no penalties for missed or late assignments due to illness with the flu.  There will also be no penalties for missing on-campus employment when ill.

If exposure with others cannot be avoided, the ill student will be asked to wear a surgical mask during the period of exposure. Those assisting students with flu symptoms will also wear masks. Close contact with someone who has flu symptoms should be avoided. Examples of close contact include kissing, sharing eating or drinking utensils, or having any other contact between persons likely to result in exposure to respiratory droplets.

Looking ahead
Union College will continually monitor and study future recommendations from federal and local authorities and will communicate those to students and college employees.