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August 21, 2009
To all campus employees from Kim Harkness, Director of Human Resources

As we all prepare for the opening week of classes, many folks on campus are also preparing for a fall outbreak of the H1N1 flu anticipated to impact a significant portion of the community. At this time, for the majority of individuals, symptoms appear to be mild and recovery is usually uncomplicated. While a significant number of students, faculty, and staff may be affected, it is most likely that the institution will remain open and continue to operate through the flu season.

Help us track the flu at Keene State so that campus administrators can make informed decisions.

  • Faculty members are requested to report flu-related absences to Sylvie Rice via email whenever 30% of the students in a class appear impacted by the flu. This report should include faculty name, the number of students absent, the total class enrollment, and the location of the course meetings.
  • Supervisors are requested to report flu-related absences to Sylvie Rice via email whenever 30% of the employees in a work area are out sick or impacted by flu. This report should include the department or sub-department unit, supervisor’s name, number of employees out, the total number of employees in the unit, and the building/space(s) associated with the work unit.
  • Please note that we are not tracking or requesting individual names.

Points to Keep in Mind

  • Employees who experience a sudden onset of flu-like symptoms should not be in the workplace and should remain out of work until fever-free (without benefit of medication) for 24 hours. While we love dedication to the College, we will benefit more from a sure recovery than from sick employees exposing co-workers to the flu and risking their own personal health.
  • The College reserves the right to require employees to leave the workplace if it is determined that they may be “under the weather” with influenza-like illness and therefore not “fit for duty.” Supervisors should refer employees who are unwilling to “go home” to Human Resources.
  • Because the College is making the request that sick employees NOT come to work, supervisors should review time and attendance policies for each department and insure that employees who stay home when sick are not penalized.
  • Recent case law suggests that FMLA protections may be extended in cases involving a flu-like illness. As such, flexibility should be provided to employees who must serve as caregivers for sick children, spouses, or parents.

What can supervisors do now?

  • Supervisors should review all areas of responsibility and identify critical areas of functionality that could be at risk if a significant portion of staff were unable to work and then make alternative preparations. For example, is there only one person in your area responsible for a critical information feed? Is there adequate documentation or cross-training to insure that all essential functions continue?
  • This would be a good time to review time and attendance policies to be sure that employees know what the expectations are for calling in when they are unable to come to work because of sickness or family responsibilities related to care giving.
  • The College will continue to communicate flu-related announcements by e-mail and through the web site. Please check this website frequently for updates on the influenza outbreak. We encourage you to be mindful of how easily this virus can be spread; to consistently wash your hands with soap and water; and to use hand sanitizers and other preventative measures when possible.

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