Frequently asked questions regarding Influenza

1. Why should institutions of higher education be concerned about the flu?
2. How will CDC help institutions and communities decide what steps to take?
3. As a parent of a student who attends an institution, should I bring them home?
4. Should my child who is a student at an institution get antiviral medicine if they get sick?
5. What steps can institutions take to keep students, faculty, and staff healthy?
6. What steps can students, faculty, and staff take to stay healthy and keep from spreading the flu?
7. As a parent of a student who attends an institution, should I bring them home?
8. As a parent of a student who attends an institution, should I bring them home?
9. What steps can institutions take to keep students, faculty, and staff healthy?
10. What are some ways institutions can encourage good hand hygiene?
11. What are some ways institutions can encourage good respiratory etiquette?
12. What does CDC recommend regarding routine cleaning of institutions?
13. Who should receive a flu vaccination?
14. Which students, faculty, and staff are at higher risk for complications from flu?
15. What actions should pregnant students, faculty, or staff take to protect themselves from the flu?
16. What are the symptoms of seasonal flu and the 2009 H1N1 flu?
17. How do I recognize a fever or signs of a fever?
28. How do I know if someone has seasonal flu?
19. What fever-reducing medications can students, faculty, and staff take when sick?
20. Question: What steps can institutions take to keep sick students, faculty, and staff from spreading flu?
21. What is self-isolation?
22. What can institutions do to encourage students, faculty, and staff to stay in their homes, dormitories, or residence halls when they’re sick?
23. What should students or faculty members living on campus do if they get the flu?
24. What steps should I take if my roommate is sick with the flu?
25. How long should a student, faculty member, or staff member with the flu stay at home or in their residence?
26. How will institutions of higher education know if the flu is more severe and they should consider taking additional action steps?
27. What additional steps should institutions take to keep students, faculty, and staff from getting sick in the event that the flu becomes more severe?
28. What can institutions do to increase social distance during a more severe flu outbreak?
29. What does suspending classes mean during a flu outbreak?
30. What are the different types of class suspension?
31. What should international students do if classes are suspended at a U.S. institution of higher education they are attending? 

32. Are there different recommendations for residential and non-residential students when an institution of higher education suspends classes?

  • Why should institutions of higher education be concerned about the flu?
  • Students, faculty, and staff can get sick with flu, and institutions may act as a “point of spread.” Students, faculty, and staff can easily spread flu to others in their institutions as well as in the larger community. To date, the highest number of cases of flu have been confirmed among people 5–24 years old

  • How will CDC help institutions and communities decide what steps to take?
  • CDC and other public health agencies will be monitoring national data on the number of people seeking care for flu-like illness as well as the number of flu hospitalizations and deaths. CDC will also look at the geographic spread of flu-like illness and changes in the virus. By comparing data with historical flu trends, the CDC will be able to provide advice to state and local agencies on appropriate steps to take. The impact of flu will likely vary from state to state and community to community. States, communities, and institutions should consider:
  • who needs to be involved in the decision-making process, and include those people in regular communications, severity of the flu and its impact in the community, schools, and institutions of higher education, capacity of the healthcare system to respond to local outbreaks, and the goals, feasibility, and community’s acceptability of action steps being considered

  • As a parent of a student who attends an institution, should I bring them home?
  • If possible, residential students with flu-like illness whose families live relatively close to the campus should go home to self-isolate. They should return home in a way that limits contact with others as much as possible. For example, travel by private car or taxi would be preferable over use of public transportation. They should stay away from other people until at least 24 hours after they no longer have a fever (100 degrees Fahrenheit or 38 degrees Celsius) or signs of a fever (have chills, feel very warm, have a flushed appearance, or are sweating). This should be determined without the use of fever-reducing medications (any medicine that contains ibuprofen or acetaminophen). If flu severity increases, students at higher risk for flu complications including students, faculty, and staff with certain chronic medical conditions like heart disease, diabetes, or asthma, or who are pregnant may consider staying home while flu transmission is high in their institution community. Currently, the CDC is not recommending removing healthy students from their institutions

  • Should my child who is a student at an institution get antiviral medicine if they get sick?
  • Parents should make sure their child knows if he or she is at higher risk for flu complications. People at higher risk for flu complications including students, faculty, and staff with certain chronic medical conditions (such as asthma, heart disease, or diabetes) who become sick with flu-like illness should call their health care provider as soon as possible to determine if they need antiviral treatment. Early treatment with antiviral medicines often can prevent hospitalizations and deaths. Parents should encourage sick students who are at higher risk for flu complications to seek early treatment. Antiviral medicines are not given to all people during flu season because most people get better on their own, over-use can promote antiviral-resistant viruses, and administration of antiviral medicines can cause adverse reactions in some people.

 

  • What steps can institutions take to keep students, faculty, and staff healthy?
  • Separate people who are sick from those who are well as soon as possible.
  • Encourage good hand hygiene and respiratory etiquette through direct education, communication materials such as posters and flyers, and other methods including e-mail, text messaging, or phone calls.
  • Establish a method for maintaining contact with students who are sick. If resources permit, student affairs staff, housing staff, or health care providers could be assigned to make daily contact with each student.
  • Encourage sick people to stay at home or in their residence except to seek medical treatment and what actions to take if they have severe symptoms. br /> Encourage students, faculty, and staff living off campus to stay at home if they are sick with flu-like illness. They should stay home until they are free of fever for at least 24 hours.
  • Discourage visitors with flu-like illness from attending institution-sponsored events until they are free of fever for at least 24 hours.
  • Examine and revise, as necessary, current flu (or crisis) response plans and procedures, and update contact information.
  • Communicate with vendors who supply critical products and services, including hygiene supplies, food service, and personal protective equipment for staff, to address the continuation of these products and services throughout the flu season.
  • Encourage any students, faculty, and staff who want protection from flu to get vaccinated for the flu. For more information about priority groups for vaccination, visit www.cdc.gov/h1n1flu/vaccination/acip.htm

  • What steps can students, faculty, and staff take to stay healthy and keep from spreading the flu?
  • Here are four important ways faculty, students, and staff can stay healthy and keep from getting sick with flu or spreading the flu. They can:
  • Practice good hand hygiene. They should wash their hands often with soap and water, especially after coughing or sneezing. Alcohol-based hand cleaners are also effective.
  • Practice respiratory etiquette. The main way flu spreads is from person to person in droplets produced by coughs and sneezes, so it’s important that people cover their mouth and nose with a tissue when they cough or sneeze. If they don’t have a tissue, they should cough or sneeze into their elbow or shoulder, not their hands.
  • Stay home if they are sick. Stay home or in their place of residence for at least 24 hours after they no long have a fever.
  • Talk to their health care providers about whether they should be vaccinated. Students, faculty, and staff who want protection from the flu can be encouraged to get vaccinated for influenza. People at highest risk for flu complications include pregnant women and people with chronic medical conditions (such as asthma, heart disease, or diabetes). For more information about priority groups for vaccination, visit www.cdc.gov/h1n1flu/vaccination/acip.htm
  • Students, faculty, and staff should take personal responsibility to help slow the spread of the flu virus. By practicing these steps, they can keep from getting sick from flu and help protect others from getting the flu

  • What other populations should institutions take into consideration when preparing for the flu season?
  • Institutions should review their policies and consider the special needs of certain student populations such as students studying abroad, high school students taking college classes, special education students, and health-care professional students.

 

  • As a parent of a student who attends an institution, should I bring them home?
  • If possible, residential students with flu-like illness whose families live relatively close to the campus should go home to self-isolate. They should return home in a way that limits contact with others as much as possible. For example, travel by private car or taxi would be preferable over use of public transportation. They should stay away from other people until at least 24 hours after they no longer have a fever (100 degrees Fahrenheit or 38 degrees Celsius) or signs of a fever (have chills, feel very warm, have a flushed appearance, or are sweating). This should be determined without the use of fever-reducing medications (any medicine that contains ibuprofen or acetaminophen). If flu severity increases, students at higher risk for flu complications including students, faculty, and staff with certain chronic medical conditions like heart disease, diabetes, or asthma, or who are pregnant may consider staying home while flu transmission is high in their institution community. Currently, the CDC is not recommending removing healthy students from their institutions.
  • What steps can institutions take to keep students, faculty, and staff healthy?
  • Separate people who are sick from those who are well as soon as possible.
  • Encourage good hand hygiene and respiratory etiquette through direct education, communication materials such as posters and flyers, and other methods including e-mail, text messaging, or phone calls.
  • Establish a method for maintaining contact with students who are sick. If resources permit, student affairs staff, housing staff, or health care providers could be assigned to make daily contact with each student.
  • Encourage sick people to stay at home or in their residence except to talk with a health care provider about whether they have flu, appropriate treatment, and what actions to take if they have severe symptoms. Encourage students, faculty, and staff living off campus to stay at home if they are sick with flu-like illness. They should stay home until they are free of fever for at least 24 hours.
  • Discourage visitors with flu-like illness from attending institution-sponsored events until they are free of fever for at least 24 hours.
  • Examine and revise, as necessary, current flu (or crisis) response plans and procedures, and update contact information.
  • Communicate with vendors who supply critical products and services, including hygiene supplies, food service, and personal protective equipment for staff, to address the continuation of these products and services throughout the flu season.
  • Encourage any students, faculty, and staff who want protection from flu to get vaccinated for flu. People at highest risk for flu complications include pregnant women and people with chronic medical conditions (such as asthma, heart disease, or diabetes). For more information about priority groups for vaccination, visit www.cdc.gov/h1n1flu/vaccination/acip.htm

  • What are some ways institutions can encourage good hand hygiene?
  • Make soap, paper towels, and alcohol-based hand cleaners readily available.
  • Educate all students, faculty, and staff about good hand hygiene through direct education and communication materials such as posters and flyers

  • What are some ways institutions can encourage good respiratory etiquette?
  • The main way flu spreads is from person to person in droplets produced by coughs and sneezes. Institutions can encourage good respiratory etiquette through direct education and by posting and disseminating communications materials such as flyers and posters, and making sure tissues and no-touch wastebaskets are readily available

 

  • What does CDC recommend regarding routine cleaning of institutions?
  • Establish regular schedules for frequent cleaning of commonly touched surfaces, including:
  • doorknobs, handrails, elevator buttons,
  • desks, tables, chairs, sofas, and
  • counters and surfaces in cafeterias, meeting rooms, and offices.
  • Provide disposable wipes so that commonly used surfaces can be wiped down daily and prior to each use. These surfaces include:
  • chairs, study carrels,
  • remote controls,
  • keyboards,
  • headphones shared in language laboratories, and
  • telephone receivers and touchtone pads in common areas.
  • Encourage students to frequently clean their living quarters. Students living together should regularly clean frequently used surfaces.
  • Routinely clean surfaces and items that people frequently touch with their hands with cleaning agents that are usually used in these areas. Additional disinfection beyond routine cleaning is not recommended.
  • Who should receive a flu vaccination?
  • Vaccines will be available this year to protect against seasonal flu. Children 6 months through 18 years of age, people of any age with chronic medical conditions (such as asthma, heart disease, or diabetes), and everyone age 50 and older should be vaccinated against seasonal flu as early as possible.
  • These groups should consider vaccination:
  • pregnant women,
  • people who live with and care for children younger than 6 months of age,
  • healthcare and emergency medical services personnel,
  • people between the ages of 6 months and 24 years (this includes most students attending institutions of higher education), and
  • people ages 25–64 years of age who have chronic health conditions (such as asthma, heart disease, or diabetes) or compromised immune systems.
  • People at Higher Risk for Complications

  • Which students, faculty, and staff are at higher risk for complications from flu?
  • Anyone can get the flu (even healthy people) and anyone can have serious problems from the flu. Students, faculty, and staff should be encouraged to talk with their health care provider to determine if they are at higher risk for flu complications, especially if they have been in close contact with others who are sick with flu or flu-like illness.
  • Some groups are at higher risk for complications from the flu. These include children younger than 5 years of age, pregnant women, people of any age with chronic health conditions (such as asthma, diabetes, or heart disease) and people 65 years of age and older.

  • What actions should pregnant students, faculty, or staff take to protect themselves from the flu?
  • Pregnant women should follow the same guidance as the general public related to staying home when sick, hand hygiene, respiratory etiquette, and routine cleaning.
  • Pregnant women are at higher risk of complications from flu and, like all people at higher risk, should speak with their health care provider as soon as possible if they develop flu-like symptoms. Early treatment with antiviral flu medicines is recommended for pregnant women who have the flu; these medicines are most effective when started within the first 48 hours of feeling sick.
  • Seasonal flu vaccine is also recommended for pregnant women and can be given at any time during pregnancy.

  • What are the symptoms of seasonal flu and the 2009 H1N1 flu?
  • Symptoms of flu include fever or chills and cough or sore throat. In addition, symptoms of flu can include runny nose, body aches, headache, tiredness, diarrhea, or vomiting.
  • How do I recognize a fever or signs of a fever?
  • A fever is a temperature that is equal to or greater than 100 degrees Fahrenheit or 38 degrees Celsius when taken with a thermometer. Look for these possible signs of fever: if he or she feels very warm, has a flushed appearance, or is sweating or shivering

  • How do I know which strain of influenza an individual may be experiencing?
  • It will be very hard to tell which strain of flu an individual has that is making them sick. Public health officials and medical authorities will not be recommending laboratory tests. Anyone who has the symptoms of flu-like illness should stay home and not go to work.
  • Symptoms of flu include fever or chills and cough or sore throat. In addition, symptoms of flu can include runny nose, body aches, headache, tiredness, diarrhea, or vomiting

  • What fever-reducing medications can students, faculty, and staff take when sick?
  • Fever-reducing medications are medicines that contain acetaminophen (such as Tylenol) or ibuprofen (such as Motrin). These medicines can be given to people who are sick with flu to help bring their fever down and relieve their pain. Aspirin (acetylsalicylic acid) should not be given to anyone younger than 18 years of age who have flu; this can cause a rare but serious illness called Reye’s syndrome.
  • Steps for Institutions of Higher Education to Prevent the Spread of Flu under Current Flu Conditions

  • What steps can institutions take to keep sick students, faculty, and staff from spreading flu?
  • There are several steps that institutions can take during current flu conditions:
  • Encourage sick students, faculty, and staff to stay home and away from other people until at least 24 hours after they no longer have a fever (100 degrees Fahrenheit or 38 degrees Celsius) or signs of a fever (have chills, feel very warm, have flushed appearance, or are sweating). This should be determined without the use of fever-reducing medications (any medicine that contains ibuprofen or acetaminophen).
  • If possible, sick students, faculty, and staff members who live in campus-sponsored housing should return to their family’s home.
  • Ask sick students with private rooms to remain in their own rooms and receive care and meals from one person, if possible.
  • Consider providing temporary, alternate housing for sick people who cannot leave campus where they can stay until 24 hours after they are free of fever.
  • Establish a method for maintaining contact with students who are sick. If resources permit, student affairs staff, housing staff or health care providers could be assigned to make daily contact with each student.
  • Communicate and instruct students to promptly seek medical attention if they have a medical condition that places them at higher risk of flu-related complications, are concerned about their illness, or develop severe symptoms. Severe symptoms include increased fever, shortness of breath, chest pain or pressure, fast breathing, bluish skin color, vomiting, dizziness or confusion

  • What is self-isolation?
  • Self-isolation is when sick people stay home and away from other people until they no longer have a fever (100 degrees Fahrenheit or 38 degrees Celsius) or signs of a fever (have chills, feel very warm, have flushed appearance, or are sweating). This should be determined without the use of fever-reducing medications (any medicine that contains ibuprofen or acetaminophen). During the period of self-isolation, sick people should limit contact with others and try to maintain a distance of at least 6 feet from people. If close contact cannot be avoided, sick people should wear a surgical mask when they are around other people, if they can tolerate it.
  • During current flu conditions, people who are sick should stay home and away from other people until at least 24 hours after they no longer have a fever or signs of a fever. If flu conditions become more severe, those who are sick should stay at their home, dormitory, or residence hall for at least 7 days, even if symptoms go away sooner. People who are still sick after 7 days should continue to stay home until at least 24 hours after symptoms have gone away.

  • What can institutions do to encourage students, faculty, and staff to stay in their homes, dormitories, or residence halls when they’re sick?
  • For faculty and staff, consider adjusting sick leave policies to ensure they do not return to work or class while sick. For students, consider similarly altering policies to ensure that there are no academic consequences for staying home while sick (i.e., no punishment for missed classes and examinations, turning in assignments late, etc.). Institutions also should consider providing distance-based learning options, such as Web courses. Please check with your professor or university administrator for additional information.

 

  • What should students or faculty members living on campus do if they get the flu?
  • CDC recommends that people with flu-like illness remain at home and away from other people until at least 24 hours after they no longer have a fever (100 degrees Fahrenheit or 38 degrees Celsius) or signs of a fever (have chills, feel very warm, have a flushed appearance, or are sweating). This should be determined without the use of fever-reducing medications (any medicine that contains ibuprofen or acetaminophen).
  • For those who cannot leave campus and return to their family’s home, if they live in a private room they should remain in their room and receive care from one person. Institutions may consider providing temporary, alternate housing where sick people can stay until 24 hours after they are free of fever.
  • What steps should I take if my roommate is sick with the flu?
  • You should limit your contact with your sick room and try to maintain a distance of 6 feet from him or her.
  • If close contact cannot be avoided, your sick roommate should wear a surgical mask, if tolerable, when he or she is around you and other people.
  • You should frequently clean commonly-touched surfaces

  • How long should a student, faculty member, or staff member with the flu stay at home or in their residence?
  • Under current flu conditions, faculty, students, and staff with flu-like symptoms should stay home for at least 24 hours after they no longer have a fever (100 degrees Fahrenheit or 38 degrees Celsius) or signs of a fever (have chills, feel very warm, have a flushed appearance, or are sweating). This should be determined without the use of fever-reducing medications (any medicine that contains ibuprofen or acetaminophen). The sick person may decide to stop taking fever-reducing medicines as he or she begins to feel better. This person should continue to monitor his or her temperature until it has been normal for 24 hours.
  • If flu conditions become more severe, the sick person should stay home or in their residence for 7 days. A person who is still sick after 7 days should stay home until 24 hours after the symptoms have gone away. In addition, this longer period should be used in healthcare settings and may be considered anywhere a high number of people at higher risk for complications from flu may be exposed, such as childcare facilities.
  • Sick people should stay at home or in their residence, except to go to the health care provider’s office, and they should avoid contact with others. Keeping people with a fever at home may reduce the number of people who get infected with the flu virus. Because high body temperatures are linked with higher amounts of virus, people with a fever may be more contagious.
  • Steps for Institutes of Higher Education under Severe Flu Conditions

  • How will institutions of higher education know if the flu is more severe and they should consider taking additional action steps?
  • CDC and its partners will continue to monitor the spread of flu, the severity of the illness it’s causing, and whether the virus is changing. State and local health departments will also be on the lookout for increases in severe illness in their areas and will provide guidance to their communities. Chicago State University will work closely with state and local public health officials to guide their flu response. Public health agencies will communicate changes in severity and the extent of flu-like illness to ensure that institutions have the information they need to choose the right steps to reduce the impact of flu

  • What additional steps should institutions take to keep students, faculty, and staff from getting sick in the event that the flu becomes more severe?
  • If flu conditions become more severe, CDC may recommend the following additional strategies and actions for institutions of higher education.
  • Permit students, faculty, and staff at higher risk of complications from flu to stay home while there is a lot of flu in the community.
  • Explore innovative methods to increase social distances between students while continuing to meet their educational needs. A few examples of increasing social distances include moving desks farther apart, leaving empty seats between students, holding outdoor classes, and using distance learning methods.
  • Encourage students, faculty, and staff who are sick to stay at their home, dormitory, or residence hall for at least 7 days, even if symptoms go away sooner. People who are still sick after 7 days should continue to stay home until at least 24 hours after symptoms have gone away.
  • Cancel, postpone, or discourage all institution-related and non-institution-related mass gatherings. These include sporting events, performances, commencement ceremonies, fraternity and sorority parties, and other events that bring large groups of people into close contact with one another.
  • Suspend classes. Some institutions may choose to suspend classes when they cannot maintain normal functioning. And, CDC may recommend suspending classes if the flu starts causing severe disease in a lot of people. Institution administrators should work closely with their local and state public health officials when deciding whether or not to suspend classes. The length of time classes should be suspended depends on the goal of suspending classes and the severity of existing illness. If the decision is made to suspend classes, CDC recommends doing so for at least 5–7 calendar days

  • What can institutions do to increase social distance during a more severe flu outbreak?
  • Institution officials should think creatively about ways to increase the space between people, while keeping students in class. Not every method will be feasible for all institutions. However, it is important to consider options for social distancing if classes remain open.
  • Options include:
  • holding classes outdoors,
  • distance-learning methods,
  • leaving vacant seats between students,
  • moving desks farther apart, and
  • moving classes to larger spaces to allow more space between students.
  • Class Suspension

  • What does suspending classes mean during a flu outbreak?
  • When classes are suspended at institutions, they are temporarily discontinued to slow or decrease the spread of flu. Institutions may choose to keep offices open for faculty and staff; however, students are directed to stay at home or in their residence.
  • What are the different types of class suspension?
  • There are two types of class suspension:
  • Reactive class suspension is used when a majority of students and staff are sick and are not attending classes, or the institution cannot maintain normal operations.
  • Preemptive class suspension is used early on during a community flu response to decrease the spread of the flu before many students, faculty, and staff get sick. This is based on information about the spread of severe flu in the region. Class suspension is likely to be more effective when used early after flu appears.
  • If classes are suspended preemptively, all institution-related large gatherings should be canceled or postponed. This includes events such as lectures, films, concerts, sporting events, worship services, commencement, or other events that bring large groups of people into close contact with one another

  • What should international students do if classes are suspended at a U.S. institution of higher education they are attending?
  • International students should follow all flu recommendations their institutions make for students. During severe flu conditions if classes are suspended, international students and others who do not have easy access to alternative housing should stay on campus. Students should try to limit contact with other people. Institutions should plan to continue education through distance-based learning methods for students who remain on campus as well as those who leave to go home.

  • Are there different recommendations for residential and non-residential students when an institution of higher education suspends classes?
  • Institutions with residential students should plan for ways to continue essential services such as meals, custodial services, security, and other basic operations. When possible, dismiss students, faculty, and staff who can drive home or who can go to the nearby home of a relative, close friend of the family, or an international student’s host family. Students who stay on campus should increase the distance between people and minimize crowding.
  • Institutions with only non-residential students, such as commuter schools, should consider allowing faculty and staff to continue using facilities while classes are not being held. Keeping facilities open may allow faculty to develop lessons and materials, to advise students through distance-based learning methods such as by telephone calls and e-mail, and to engage in other essential activities, such as research projects

Reference
U.S. Department of Health and Human Services.
Retrieved from www.flu.gov

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