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Higher Education and the Flu
Students collaborating on assignment

School officials should review their current flu-response plans and work with the local health department to fine-tune their flu response.

  1. Make sure all student contact information is updated. 
  2. Develop plans for covering staff who are absent due to flu, particularly at your institution’s health clinics.
  3. Set up a way to communicate with on-campus students who are sick. Encourage them to stay home or in their residence hall until they’ve been free from fever for 24 hours.
  4. Review your policies on absenteeism to prevent students and staff from being penalized for missing classes and work.
  5. Encourage everyone to get vaccinated for seasonal flu; consider offering a vaccination site on campus and reaching out to high-priority populations.
  6. Provide access to the basics: tissues, soap and water, alcohol-based hand cleaners and disposable wipes.

If the situation gets markedly worse, school officials may want to take further precautions.

  • Move desks further apart in classrooms, or use more distance-based learning systems such as email and web-based courses.
  • Allow students and staff at higher risk to work remotely.
  • Consider how and when to suspend classes by working closely with your local and state public health officials.
The Decision to Close

The decision to close a college, university or other learning institution will be made on a local level by balancing two goals: reducing the number of people who become seriously ill and minimizing educational and social disruption.

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention has more detailed information on planning and how institutions of higher education can prepare for flu season (pdf).