August 15, 2009
Dear Student and/or Parents,
As we approach the opening of the 2009-2010 academic year, it is important that all of us prepare as best we can for dealing with the H1N1 influenza virus. This letter is intended to inform you of Keene State's policies and procedures for dealing with H1N1 and what students can do to stay healthy.
Currently, indications are that H1N1 will be present in the community in significant amounts when we return to school. At this time, for the vast majority of individuals, symptoms appear to be mild and recovery is usually uncomplicated. This information leads us to believe that in all likelihood, the institution will continue to operate throughout the flu season. That being said, since a vaccine is not yet available, the only mechanism we have for preventing transmission is limiting exposure between sick and well individuals. Therefore, Keene State's procedure for handling sick students will be as follows:
- We will be offering passive and active educational programs throughout campus on strategies to prevent and deal with influenza-like illnesses (ILI).
- We will be offering seasonal flu vaccine clinics throughout the month of September. All students are encouraged to get the seasonal vaccine even though it is not effective in preventing H1N1. It will, however, keep you healthier and thus decrease your chance of contracting H1N1. The seasonal flu vaccine will be available shortly so we would also encourage you to get that vaccine at home even before you return to school if possible.
- Once the H1N1 vaccine is available, we will be working with the New Hampshire Department of Health and Human Services to coordinate distribution of the vaccine. We will notify students when this occurs.
- If a student begins to develop ILI and has concerns, he or she will be asked to contact the Center for Health and Wellness at 603-358-2450. We will discourage students with ILI from showing up at the clinic because we are trying to minimize the spread of the virus. The student will be assessed on the phone by a nurse who will determine if in fact the student needs to be seen by a health care provider. In most cases, that will not be necessary.
- Students will be given specific recommendations for their care while they are sick, including advice to contact the Center for Health and Wellness or their primary practitioner immediately if their symptoms worsen.
- The first recommendation that will be given to sick students will be for them to return home for the duration of their illness if at all possible , and remain there for 24 hours after their fever has subsided (without the aid of fever-reducing medication). It is important that each student formulate a plan for getting home in the event of illness.
- If students cannot return home while they are sick, they will be asked to isolate themselves in their rooms during their sick period. They should not attend classes or eat in the Dining Commons.
- Meals (containing appropriate foods for ILI) will be available for students to eat in their rooms. The details on pick up/delivery of these meals are being worked out. More information will be provided to students when they arrive on campus.
- Roommates of sick students will be asked to apply the standards of self care that are recommended for a "household contact." These standards can be found on the Center for Disease Control website at www.cdc.gov/H1N1flu/guidance_homecare.htm . We will not be able to move sick students into single rooms, so roommates and sick students who remain in their rooms will need to be diligent in minimizing contact.
- Faculty members will accommodate absences consistent with the academic integrity of the course. Students should communicate with their professors as soon as possible to make arrangements to complete missed work. However, absences of significant lengths of time may need to be accommodated by having the student register for the course in a subsequent semester.
In order for students to be active participants in their own health care, we are recommending that they come to school with the tools necessary to assess and care for themselves. Listed below are items we recommend that students bring to school.
- A thermometer that works and that you know how to use
- Over-the-counter medication (be sure to follow directions on use)
- Acetaminophen (Tylenol)
- Ibuprofen (Advil)
- Saline nasal spray
- Cough suppressant (Delsym)
- Nasal decongestant
- Throat lozenges/cough drops
- Food and drink supply
- Peanut butter
- Bottled water
- Hand sanitizer
Finally, with the H1N1 virus, as with all illnesses, we are particularly concerned about students who might be considered to be at a higher risk due to an existing or chronic medical condition. If you have asthma, diabetes, heart disease, kidney disease, are pregnant, or have any other chronic medical issue, please contact me so that I can ensure that my staff is aware of your condition. I can be reached at 603-358-2926 or by e-mail at email@example.com.
To access the most current information regarding Keene State College and H1N1, please visit www.keene.edu/alerts.
Christine M. Burke, MEd, CHES
Director, Center for Health and Wellness