Buffalo State College's emergency response planning group is closely monitoring reports of human cases of Influenza A (H1N1) throughout the world. Fortunately, the vast majority of cases are mild and, at this point, the H1N1 virus appears no more virulent or severe than most seasonal flu. This strain does seem to appear more frequently in children and young adults because those who are younger than 50 years of age have not yet had contact with a similar type of this virus.
Classes and Activities and Attendance
Classes and activities will go on as scheduled this semester. The emergency response planning group, working with state and regional health authorities, will monitor the campus situation and make recommendations regarding changes in or cancellations of campus activities.
Based on a thorough review of the situation and compelling information, the college president, in consultation with the provost and vice presidents, will make any decisions regarding the cancellation of classes. Any such decision will be communicated broadly to faculty, students, and staff through e-mail and other communications.
Any decision regarding attendance by faculty and staff will be made based on input from Human Resources Management, SUNY, and the Governor’s Office of Employee Relations.
Public Health Precautions
Health authorities anticipate another wave of H1N1 sometime this fall. To keep the campus as healthy as possible, Buffalo State officials encourage members of the campus community to follow these Centers for Disease Control (CDC) guidelines:
- Cover your nose and mouth with a tissue when you cough or sneeze.
- Throw the tissue in the trash after you use it.
- Wash your hands often with soap and water, especially after you cough or sneeze.
- Use an alcohol-based hand gel.
- Avoid touching your eyes, nose, or mouth.
- Do not share personal items, food, drink, or utensils.
- Practice other good health habits.
- Get plenty of sleep, be physically active, manage your stress, drink plenty of fluids, and eat nutritious food.
- If you do get sick, stay home.
It's important to note, the CDC emphasizes that most people who become ill with H1N1 recover without requiring medical treatment. Be aware that according to health care experts, some groups are at a greater risk of developing severe complications if they contract H1N1.Those high risk groups include: pregnant women and those with respiratory disease (asthma, COPD), heart disease, diabetes, renal disease, morbid obesity, or who have compromised immune systems.
Buffalo State faculty and staff who develop a respiratory illness with a fever and who are in one of these high risk groups for severe complications from H1N1, should contact their health care provider; students should contact the Weigel Health Center at 878-6711 to schedule an appointment. You should make it clear when calling that you are in a high risk group for influenza complications.
If you are not considered to be at a greater risk of developing complications from possible H1N1 and develop flu like symptoms (fever, cough, sore throat, runny or stuffy nose, body aches, headache, chills, fatigue, and possibly diarrhea and vomiting), the CDC recommends you should separate yourself from others as best as you can while you are sick and for at least 24 hours after fever has resolved without the use of fever-reducing medications.
During your illness, health experts say you should drink plenty of clear fluids, get plenty of rest, and prevent spread by washing your hands frequently and refrain from sharing personal items (beverage containers, toothbrushes, etc.). Remember to cover your mouth and nose with a tissue (or your sleeve) when coughing or sneezing.
Recommendations to Faculty and Students
Those with flu-like illness should stay away from classes and limit interactions with other people except to seek medical care, for at least 24 hours after they no longer have a fever, or signs of a fever, without the use of fever-reducing medicines. Some people with influenza will not have fever; therefore, absence of fever does not mean absence of infection. They should stay away from others during this time period even if they are taking antiviral drugs for treatment of the flu. (For more information, visit http://www.cdc.gov/h1n1flu/guidance/exclusion.htm.)
Faculty are asked to consider altering policies on missed classes and examinations and late assignments so that students' academic concerns do not prevent them from staying home when ill or prompt them to return to class or take examinations while still symptomatic and potentially infectious.
Similarly, faculty are asked to consider revising student absenteeism policies that make it difficult for students to stay home to care for an ill family member.
Faculty are asked to be flexible about requiring a doctor’s note to confirm illness or recovery. Doctor's offices may be very busy and may not be able to provide such documentation in a timely way.
Distance learning or Web-based learning may help students maintain their academic work during the recommended period of self-separation.
Residential students with flu-like illness who live relatively close to the campus are asked to return to their home to keep from making others sick. These students are encouraged to do so in a way that limits contact with others as much as possible. For example, travel by private car or taxi is preferable over use of public transportation.
Residential students who must remain on campus are advised to stay in their room and avoid close contact, staying four to six feet away from others for at least 24 hours after the fever is gone (without use of fever-reducing medication). Roommates are encouraged to help by bringing food, fluids, and other necessities while avoiding close contact.
Students are encouraged to establish a “flu buddy scheme” in which students pair up to care for each other if one or the other becomes ill. Additionally, staff can make daily contact by e-mail, text messaging, phone calls, or other methods with any students ill with the flu.
Students with flu-like illness should promptly seek medical attention if they have a medical condition that puts them at increased risk of severe illness from flu (i.e. are somehow immunity-compromised), are concerned about their illness, or develop severe symptoms such as increased fever, shortness of breath, chest pain or pressure, or rapid breathing.
Adapted from http://www.flu.gov/plan/school/higheredguidance.html
New York State Department of Health Hotline, 1-800-808-1987
Students and parents who have questions may contact the Weigel Health Center at (716) 878-6711.
Thank you for your efforts to keep all members of the Buffalo State family in good health. Although we can't eliminate the spread of this virus, our collective efforts can significantly minimize its reach and overall impact.