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CDC Guidance for Responses to Influenza for Institutions of Higher Education during the 2009-2010 Academic Year

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This document provides guidance to help decrease the spread of flu among students, faculty, and staff of institutions of higher education (IHE) and post-secondary educational institutions during the 2009-2010 academic year. The guidance expands upon earlier guidance for these settings by providing a menu of tools that IHE and health officials can choose from based on conditions in their area. It recommends actions to take now (during this academic year), suggests strategies to consider if the flu starts causing more severe disease than during the spring/summer 2009 H1N1 outbreak, and provides a checklist for making decisions. Detailed information on the reasons for these strategies and suggestions on how to use them is included in the Technical Report. Based on the severity of 2009 H1N1 flu-related illness thus far, this guidance also 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.For the purpose of this guidance, IHE will refer to public and private, residential and nonresidential, degree-granting and non-degree-granting institutions providing post-secondary education in group settings regardless of the age of their students. Portions of this guidance pertaining to dormitories and residence halls may serve as a useful supplement to residential (boarding) schools providing primary and secondary education, with adaptations as needed for their younger population. This guidance represents the CDC’s current thinking on this topic. It does not create or confer any rights for or on any person or operate to bind the public.

IHEs should tailor the guidance to account for the size, diversity, and mobility of their students, faculty, and staff; their location and physical facilities; programs; and student and employee health services. Decisions about strategies should balance the goal of reducing the number of people who become seriously ill or die from flu with the goal of minimizing educational and social disruption.

Although the severity of flu outbreaks during the fall and winter of 2009-10 is unpredictable, more communities may be affected than were affected in spring/summer 2009, reflecting wider transmission and possibly greater impact. CDC is working with state and local health departments to continually monitor the spread of flu, the severity of the illness it is causing, and changes to the virus. If this information indicates that flu is causing more severe disease than during the spring/summer 2009 H1N1 outbreak, or if other developments require more aggressive mitigation measures, CDC may recommend additional strategies. Since severity may vary from community to community, IHEs should also look to their state and local health officials for information and guidance specific to their location.

The recommendations below are divided into two groups: 1) recommendations to use now, during this academic year, assuming a similar severity to the spring/summer H1N1 flu outbreak, and 2) recommendations to consider adding if the flu begins to cause more severe disease. 

Preparing for the Flu: A Communication Toolkit for Institutions of Higher Education

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