Letter to the faculty on H1N1 issues

11:51 a.m., Sept. 17, 2009----Editor's note: Deputy Provost Havidán Rodríguez sent a letter to all University faculty on Sept. 16, highlighting several important issues for faculty to consider in the event of a major outbreak of H1N1 on UD's campus. The letter is reprinted below.

Email E-mail
Delicious Print

Sept. 16, 2009

Dear Faculty:

As you already know, the Centers for Disease Control (CDC) and Prevention are projecting that more communities will be affected by H1N1 influenza throughout this year. A major outbreak of H1N1 on our University campus could have serious impacts on our community and in the classroom.

As recently announced in UDaily, “Throughout the summer, UD's Communicable Disease Working Group has been assessing the situation [with the H1N1 influenza], developing educational outreach programs, conducting emergency planning and discussing ways to keep the campus community safe” (see http://www.udel.edu/udaily/2010/aug/H1N1082809.html).

We will continue to monitor the data and information provided by CDC and local health officials and we will continue to provide regular updates on H1N1 to the University community. In the following section, we highlight several important issues regarding H1N1 and provide some recommendations in an effort to mitigate and prepare for a major outbreak of H1N1.

  • Please note that CDC recommends that “students, faculty, and staff with flu-like illness remain home until 24 hours after resolution of fever without the use of fever-reducing medications,” that we promote self-isolation, and discourage campus visits by ill persons. The guidelines also indicate that colleges should make it "easy for students, and faculty and staff members with flu symptoms to miss class or work."
  • Consequently, in a situation where we have a major outbreak of H1N1, we will not be issuing medical excuses to students; the primary goal will be to have students isolate themselves and not interact with others in an attempt to minimize the spread of H1N1.
  • In case of a major H1N1 outbreak at UD, regular communication with your students and your department/unit is essential. Also, being flexible with your students in terms of class participation and makeup of assignments and exams is critical, especially if students suspect that they might be ill with H1N1. Please make sure that you review, as soon as possible, these issues and potential alternatives with your students and provide information on the strategies that you will implement to deal with these issues.
  • It is also important that you communicate with your department chair or program director if you suspect that you may have H1N1 so that your students are informed of this situation and your expectations regarding course work.
  • Although online instruction or distance learning might not be “appropriate” for all courses, we encourage faculty to think of alternate modes of teaching or providing the corresponding class information to their students, especially if we are required to suspend classes for a short period of time or you cannot attend classes due to illness as a result of H1N1. Please note that UD's Center for Educational Effectiveness and IT-User Services can assist faculty in strategically planning for the continuation of instruction in the event of prolonged cancellation of face-to-face classes.
  • As you may already know, the University of Delaware is attempting to determine the capacity of our faculty to continue course instruction outside of the classroom if a severe crisis event were to occur, such as the outbreak of H1N1 or any other type of hazard or disaster event. With this purpose in mind, we developed a short, seven-question, survey for UD faculty to complete, which will help us consolidate this information. If you have already completed the survey, “thank you.” If you have not completed the survey, please take a few minutes to do so by visiting this URL.
  • Please remember, washing your hands with soap and water is one of the most effective mechanisms to prevent the spread of H1N1 or similar illnesses. We have also installed 37 hand sanitizer units across the University's four campuses, especially targeting large gathering areas (e.g., the Bob Carpenter Center, Perkins Student Center, Trabant University Center, etc.).

Again, communication and planning are critical in order to develop an effective response to a major outbreak of H1N1 or any other emergency or crisis situation. We will continue to provide updates and further guidance, as necessary. We urge you to do the same with your students and your colleagues.

We wish you all the best for a very productive, successful, and healthy academic year.

Havidán Rodríguez, Ph.D.
Deputy Provost