New Guidelines for Early School Closures Released Today

August 7, 2009

The CDC is now discouraging the early closure of schools when the H1N1 virus rears its head, according to Reuters (8/7/09), unless the virus becomes worse. Schools are being encouraged to try other methods to decrease the virus’ spread, such as separating students’ desks and not mixing classes.

“The potential benefits of preemptively dismissing students from school are often outweighed by negative consequences, including students being left home alone, health workers missing shifts when they must stay home with their children, students missing meals, and interruption of students’ education,” the CDC’s guidelines read. “The decision to dismiss students should be made locally and should balance the goal of reducing the number of people who become seriously ill or die from influenza with the goal of minimizing social disruption.” Read more here.


Possible Fall Vaccination Campaign

May 7, 2009

Swine flu vaccines are being considered as part of a fall vaccination campaign, reports the Washington Post. A three-shot dose that includes one to fight seasonal flu and two to fight swine flu would be recommended. Or an ingredient targeting the new swine flu virus could be added to seasonal flu shots. These possibilities raise concerns about tracking side effects, distribution and production. Read more here.

Facts & Figures

May 7, 2009

The CDC reports 642 confirmed cases of H1N1 flu infection in the U.S. A new diagnostic test kit has been developed and distributed to all U.S. states and Puerto Rico, as well as other countries, to help increase testing capacity. This is likely to help confirm additional swine flu cases to provide a more accurate picture of the disease.

The World Health Organization reports today that 22 countries have officially reported 1516 cases of H1N1 infection.

Campus Cases

May 7, 2009

Here is a sampling of what’s happening on campuses throughout the U.S….

At Fairfield University (CT), two students tested positive for H1N1 flu. Both are “fully recovered,” according to the Vice President for Administrative and Student Affairs. Five other probable cases are still being tested.

At Amherst College (MA), three students tested positive for H1N1 flu. The first two were in isolation for seven days and are now back to their regular living quarters. The third case was confirmed Tuesday night. Sixteen students who exhibited flu-like symptoms were isolated in an empty residence hall on campus, with seven of them still there. A college spokeswoman said Amherst has treated all 16 students as if they have swine flu, according to The Republican.

At the University of Delaware, four additional cases of H1N1 flu were announced yesterday, bringing their number of confirmed cases to 24. The results are due to a backlog of lab tests, not an increase in new infections, according to public health officials. No students have been hospitalized and the symptoms have been mild, officials said.

At the University of Colorado-Boulder, one student has tested positive for the H1N1 virus and there are two suspected cases. Final exams and academic events are continuing as scheduled. Department chairs and deans are being asked to decide if “discretionary” events should be canceled.

Another Death in the U.S.

May 7, 2009

A 33-year-old schoolteacher from Texas died yesterday. She was the second swine flu victim to die in the U.S. The pregnant woman had been hospitalized since April 19 and had “chronic underlying health conditions,” according to a state health department spokesperson. Her baby was delivered via Caesarean after the mother fell into a coma. Read more about it here.

Updated School Closing Guidance

May 7, 2009

The Department of Education, in conjunction with the CDC, issued the following updated guidance about how schools and childcare facilities should respond to swine flu concerns:

‘”Schools no longer have to close if they have a suspected or actual case of the flu, and schools that had closed for flu-related reasons may now reopen. Sick students and staff with flu-like symptoms should stay home—or be sent home—for a minimum of 7 days, and adults should continue to monitor children’s health (and their own) for flu-like symptoms. Schools should continue to encourage common-sense measures to reduce the flu’s spread.”

The CDC site states: “At this time, CDC recommends the primary means to reduce spread of influenza in schools is to focus on early identification of ill students and staff, staying home when ill, and good cough and hand hygiene etiquette.”

School closure decisions are still at the discretion of local authorities, based on local considerations such as staffing shortages, the impact of school absenteeism and public concern. Click here for a list of recommendations from the CDC.

15 Campuses Announce Confirmed or Suspected Swine Flu Cases

May 1, 2009

According to the Higher Education H1N1 Map that reports on the virus at U.S. campuses, the following schools have been impacted by swine flu (in addition to those we reported on above):
–    University of Notre Dame (IN)  – 1 confirmed student case
–    San Diego State University (CA) – 1 probable student case
–    CSU Long Beach – 1 probable student case
–    Ohio State University – 1 probable employee case
–    University of Chicago (IL) – 2 probable employee cases
–    Fairfield University (CT) – 2 probable student cases
–    Loyola University of Chicago (IL) – 1 probable student case
–    Trinity University (TX) – 1 suspected student case
–    University of San Diego (CA) – 1 probable student case
–    Harvard University Dental School (MA) – closed due to 1 probable student case
–    Northern Arizona University – 1 probable student case
–    Pace University (NY) – 1 probable student case
–    Amherst College (MA) – 2 probable student cases
–    St. John’s University (NY) – 1 confirmed student case
–    Western Oregon University – closed through May 4 – 1 suspected student case

Northeastern U. Commencement

May 1, 2009

During today’s commencement ceremonies, precautionary measures are being taken to minimize direct contact between graduates and participants. “These include the availability of hand-sanitizer at both the morning and afternoon ceremonies, and forgoing the traditional congratulatory handshake when graduates receive their diplomas,” according to their website.

Texas Weslyan Closes

May 1, 2009

Texas Wesleyan University chose to cancel their remaining spring classes and campus events through May 5. Finals will go on as planned. Students have been instructed to stay home, if possible, while residence halls will remain open for those who are unable to leave. All community members are encouraged to seek updated information on the campus website and to register on the Emergency Management System.

Also, since the campus is in an area where many K-12 schools are closed, the university is requesting faculty and staff who have children attending one of the closed schools or who take care of any of these children to stay home through May 11 (besides final exams). These folks must inform their supervisors in advance and will be compensated during this period.

University of Delaware Update

May 1, 2009

The University of Delaware announced that four students had tested positive with the CDC for swine flu and that there are still 12 probable cases. Officials “have been treating all cases with flu-like symptoms as potential swine flu,” according to the university website. Approximately 400 students were treated for flu-like symptoms between Wednesday and Thursday mornings.

CDC officials are visiting the campus today
, according to the Philadelphia Inquirer, to provide swine flu advisory assistance. “They have come to Delaware to assess the situation and provide advisory assistance to the state,” university spokesperson Andrea Boyle told the paper. “It is unknown whether they will come to the university. They were called in at the governor’s request, not for anything we were doing wrong.”

In the meantime, some entrepreneurial students are selling “Swine ’09” T-shirts, with profits going to the Boys and Girls Club of Greater Newark. “”We weren’t trying to make a joke of the whole idea,” freshman Dan Schroeder told the Philadelphia Inquirer. “We were just trying to make it a lighter subject.”