From: William N. Walker, Vice President, Strategic Communications and External Relations
Re: Preparation for H1N1 Flu
We are beginning another busy academic year at Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute, and in the midst of our normal academic and event planning, we are also preparing for what we know will be a challenging flu season. I write to inform you of the significant planning that Rensselaer has done to protect our community during this flu season.
H1N1 influenza, also known as swine flu, is moving steadily into our part of the country. Several universities in the Northeast are already reporting hundreds of cases. It is highly likely that the virus will reach Rensselaer in the near future.
Preventing and limiting the spread of the flu has been our primary goal. We have been conducting a widespread prevention campaign for students this semester. Students have received several e-mails regarding the flu and flu prevention; faculty members are having discussions in class regarding flu prevention; posters stressing prevention are posted around campus; our Student Life staff and Resident Assistants are all trained and available to answer questions on the flu; and we have developed a robust informational Web site on H1N1 that can be found at http://www.rpi.edu/about/flu/.
While prevention can go a long way toward slowing the spread of H1N1, it is nearly impossible to stop the quickly spreading flu virus completely. We have made substantial preparations to care for any student who contracts the virus, including the development of a Web-based self-reporting system that will be communicated to the students soon.
All students with symptoms of the flu (i.e., fever, cough, sore throat, runny or stuffy nose, body aches, headache, chills, fatigue, and rarely, diarrhea and vomiting) should arrange an appointment with our medical staff at the Student Health Center. There, they will be examined for influenza. All appointments are free to Rensselaer students.
We will immediately call the parents of any student who is diagnosed with the H1N1 flu. When feasible, parents whose students are diagnosed with H1N1 will be asked to arrange transportation home for them as soon as possible, in order to provide care in the home environment. We are well prepared to take care of the students who cannot leave the campus due to the distance from home, but we plan to limit that number as much as possible to reduce the risk of infection to others on the campus. We discourage students with the flu from driving themselves home.
We are making some arrangements to isolate affected students who need to remain on campus. If the number of ill students exceeds that capacity, they will be asked to stay in their residence halls or apartments and avoid class or school events. This will help them to recover fully and prevent the further spread of the illness. The faculty is prepared to work with students on making up any academic work they miss, in order to continue their academic progress.
Healthy boxed meals, cleaning supplies, and linen services will be provided to any student who remains on campus and is diagnosed with flu. The duration of the flu is currently estimated at 5-8 days.
All affected students will be monitored on a daily basis by our medical staff. Students should not return to campus and normal activities until at least 24 hours after the fever has subsided without the use of fever reducers.
We ask that you continue to urge your son or daughter to practice good hygiene and not ignore the symptoms of an illness. A standard thermometer and fever-reducing medications are also recommended for all students during this flu season. Also, if your child lives in an off-campus apartment or private residence, we ask that a current mailing address and phone number be provided to the Registrar as soon as possible. This will help us to take care of them should they come down with flu.
The H1N1 influenza should not be taken lightly. The H1N1 virus tends to have a strong impact on people under the age of 24.
We will monitor closely the number of cases on campus and the severity of the illnesses that we are seeing. We will continue to provide regular updates on our H1N1 Web site, http://www.rpi.edu/about/flu/.
Thank you for your help in handling this impending situation. We look forward to minimizing the impact of the flu outbreak and continuing with the normal activities and events of the academic year.
More information is available http://www.rpi.edu/about/flu/.
William N. Walker
Vice President, Strategic Communications and External Relations