Asumag 2495 Susan 2013v4

Editor's Focus: One Flu Over

June 1, 2009
Preparing for a flu pandemic at schools and universities

This spring, many people across the country were scrambling for masks and hand sanitizer. The National Pork Producers Council was trying to do damage control (and maybe still is).

Although the recent outbreak of the H1N1 virus (a.k.a. the swine flu) may seem like yesterday's news, it's important to note that every state was affected by the pandemic, and some areas are still dealing with it to varying degrees. Was your school or campus prepared? If not, summer might be a good time to prepare a plan for next year and beyond.

The U.S. Department of Health and Human Services and the Centers for Disease Control have put together checklists to help administrators prepare for the effects of a flu pandemic, but these also can apply to other emergencies. Some starting points:

  • Identify a pandemic coordinator and response team with defined roles and responsibilities for preparedness, response and recovery planning.

  • Work with local and state health departments and other community partners to establish organizational structures.

  • Share what you have learned from developing your plan with other institutions to improve community response efforts. Discuss ways to pool resources.

  • Develop scenarios describing the potential impact of a pandemic on student learning, school closings and extracurricular activities. Develop alternative procedures to ensure continuity of instruction in the event of school closures.

  • Work with the local health department to establish effective infection-prevention policies and procedures. Make good hygiene a habit now in order to help protect children and staff.

  • Procure, store and provide sufficient and accessible infection-prevention supplies, such as soap, alcohol-based/waterless hand-hygiene products, tissues and waste receptacles.

  • Keep accurate records of when and why children and staff are absent. Establish sick-leave policies for employees and students suspected to be ill or who become ill on campus.

Information and detailed checklists are available at

Lustig is executive editor of AS&U.

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