H1N1 Messages to Faculty & Staff

05.24.10 Message to Members of LEAD from Human Resources

Given the low rate of H1N1 cases in Washington State and information available from public health agencies, the campus is now returning to standard protocols surrounding staff members’ absences from work. As stated in the staff Sick Leave Policy, medical certification is required and should be forwarded to the Human Resources Department whenever a staff member is absent as a result of personal illness or injury in excess of five consecutive working days.  Departmental policies may provide additional guidelines for durations of absences requiring medical certification.

Please notify all staff members in your department that the standard protocols are again in place.

Please direct questions about the sick leave policy to Human Resources (hr@pugetsound.edu or 253.879.3369).

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09.10.09 Message to Staff

As we start the school year and consider the possible implications for Puget Sound of both seasonal flu and H1N1 flu, it's important to plan ahead to address how best to promote prevention of and to respond to flu-related illness.  This advice for Puget Sound staff, supplementing the information about self-care and prevention that the Office of Communications sent earlier to staff, faculty, and students, is developed in consideration of Centers for Disease Control (CDC) guidance:

  • If you have a flu-like illness, self-isolate (except to seek medical care) until at least 24 hours after you are free of fever or signs of fever, without the use of fever-reducing medicines, before returning to work.
  • Review the staff policy on absence notification.  The staff sick leave policy reads, "When a personal or immediate family illness occurs which prevents a staff member from reporting to work, the staff member must notify the supervisor as soon as possible, but in no case later than thirty (30) minutes after the beginning of the staff member's scheduled shift. This allows time for the supervisor to adjust the department's work assignments for the day and to try to compensate for the staff member's absence. If a staff member has an absence that lasts for more than one day, the staff member should call in each day unless she or he has made alternate arrangements in advance with the supervisor. Some departments may require notification up to several hours in advance of the time the staff member's shift begins due to operational needs.  The staff member (not a relative or friend) should be the one to call in unless the staff member is medically unable to do so. The staff member should speak directly with the supervisor rather than a coworker unless that individual has been officially authorized by the department to accept call-in notices. " 
  • Review any absence notification procedures that are specific to your department.
  • With respect to medical certifications of illness and injury:
  • Until further notice, the requirement in the staff sick leave policy to produce medical certification for absences in excess of five consecutive working days will be waived.  Doctor's offices and medical facilities used by staff members (like our own Counseling Health and Wellness Services for students) may be extremely busy and may not be able to provide such documentation in a timely way. 
  • Please note that certifications will continue to be required as necessary for medical leaves (e.g., FMLA leaves, disability leaves) or work-related injuries. 
  • If you have questions about your own circumstances, consult with Nancy Nieraeth, director of employment and people development, or Shannon Briggs, director of compensation and benefits, in Human Resources.   You can schedule a consultation with Nancy or Shannon through hr@pugetsound.edu
  • Assess NOW the extent to which you or members of your household are in the population the CDC reports to be at higher risk of complications from flu if they get sick, which includes: 
    • children younger than age 5;
    • people 65 or older (people 65 and older, however, appear to be at lower rick of 2009 H1N1 infection compared to younger people);
    • children and adolescents (younger than age 18) who are receiving long-term aspirin therapy and who might be at risk for experiencing Reye's syndrome after flu virus infection;
    • pregnant women;
    • adults and children who have asthma, other chronic pulmonary, cardiovascular, hepatic, hematological, neurologic, neuromuscular, or metabolic disorders such as diabetes;
    • and adults and children with immunosuppression (including immonosuppression caused by medications or by HIV). 
  • If you are at high risk for flu complications and you become ill with flu-like illness, speak with your health care provider as soon as possible. 
  • If you are at high risk for flu complications and flu is spreading on campus, consult with your health care provider to determine whether you should stay home from work.  Again, contact Nancy or Shannon if you have questions.
  • Regularly practice the basic foundations of flu prevention at home and at work:  stay home when sick; wash hands frequently with soap and water when possible; cover noses and mouths with a tissue when coughing or sneezing (or a shirt sleeve or elbow if no tissue is available); frequently clean high-touch surfaces at work and at home; do not share eating utensils, bottles, or other objects that touch your mouth; and get plenty of sleep, eat a well-balanced diet, and exercise regularly for optimum health.
  • Facilities Services will start distributing wipes and hand sanitizer to each department on Monday, September 14.  Use the disposable wipes so that commonly-used surfaces (e.g., doorknobs, keyboards, remote controls, counters, desks) can be wiped down regularly or before the next person's use.   Use the hand sanitizer after using such surfaces. 
  • The CDC reports that getting a flu vaccine each year is the best way to protect you from flu. Seasonal flu shots will be available on campus on Friday, November 13, in conjunction with Human Resources' annual health fair.  These vaccinations are free for faculty and staff members.  
  • Information about Group Health's seasonal flu shot clinics is available on the Group Health Web site.  Consult with your health care provider regarding H1N1 vaccinations.  

Additional information about H1N1 is posted on the this Web site, and we will all work to stay in good communication with one another on these topics as the semester progresses, and we will all work to stay in good communication with one another on these topics as the semester progresses.

Please share your questions and suggestions with us by writing hr@pugetsound.edu.

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09.09.09 Message to Academic Chairs and LEAD Members from Human Resources

As we start the school year and consider the possible implications for Puget Sound of both seasonal flu and H1N1 flu, it's important to plan ahead to address how best to promote prevention of and to respond to flu-related illness in our areas of responsibility. This advice for Puget Sound is developed in consideration of Centers for Disease Control (CDC) guidance:

  • Ask staff members (including student staff members) with flu-like illness to self-isolate until at least 24 hours after they are free of fever or signs of fever, without the use of fever-reducing medicines, before returning to work.
  • Remind staff members of the staff policy on absence notification. The staff sick leave policy reads, "When a personal or immediate family illness occurs which prevents a staff member from reporting to work, the staff member must notify the supervisor as soon as possible, but in no case later than thirty (30) minutes after the beginning of the staff member's scheduled shift. This allows time for the supervisor to adjust the department's work assignments for the day and to try to compensate for the staff member's absence. If a staff member has an absence that lasts for more than one day, the staff member should call in each day unless she or he has made alternate arrangements in advance with the supervisor. Some departments may require notification up to several hours in advance of the time the staff member's shift begins due to operational needs. The staff member (not a relative or friend) should be the one to call in unless the staff member is medically unable to do so. The staff member should speak directly with the supervisor rather than a coworker unless that individual has been officially authorized by the department to accept call-in notices. "
  • Remind staff members (including student staff members) of any department-specific absence notification procedures.
  • With respect to medical certifications of illness and injury:
    • The requirement in the staff sick leave policy to produce medical certification for absences in excess of five consecutive working days will be waived for staff members until further notice. Doctor's offices and medical facilities used by staff members (like our own Counseling Health and Wellness Services for students) may be extremely busy and may not be able to provide such documentation in a timely way.
    • Please also suspend departmental policies and practices regarding medical certification of staff members' (including student staff members') absences resulting from routine illnesses and non-work related injuries.
    • Similarly, consider whether medical certification is warranted for staff members to return to work following illnesses or injuries.
    • Please note that certifications will continue to be required as necessary for medical leaves or work-related injuries.
    • If you have questions about particular staff circumstances, consult with Nancy Nieraeth, director of employment and people development, or Shannon Briggs, director of compensation and benefits, in Human Resources. You can schedule a consultation with Nancy or Shannon through hr@pugetsound.edu. If you have questions about particular student staff circumstances, consult with Mona Lawrence, associate director, in Career and Employment Services. You can schedule a consultation with Mona through ces@pugetsound.edu.
  • Without asking colleagues to self-identify, encourage faculty and staff members in your area to assess NOW the extent to which they or members of their households are in the population the CDC reports to be at higher risk of complications from flu if they get sick, which includes:
    • children younger than age 5;
    • people 65 or older (people 65 and older, however, appear to be at lower rick of 2009 H1N1 infection compared to younger people);
    • children and adolescents (younger than age 18) who are receiving long-term aspirin therapy and who might be at risk for experiencing Reye's syndrome after flu virus infection;
    • pregnant women;
    • adults and children who have asthma, other chronic pulmonary, cardiovascular, hepatic, hematological, neurologic, neuromuscular, or metabolic disorders such as diabetes;
    • and adults and children with immunosuppression (including immonosuppression caused by medications or by HIV).
  • Remind colleagues that people at high risk for flu complications who become ill with flu-like illness should speak with their health care providers as soon as possible.
  • Permit staff members who have identified themselves as being in the high-risk groups, in consultation with their health care providers, to stay home when flu is spreading on campus. Consider work from home and other alternatives. Again, consult with Nancy or Shannon regarding particular circumstances.
  • Regularly emphasize the importance of the basic foundations of flu prevention: stay home when sick; wash hands frequently with soap and water when possible; cover noses and mouths with a tissue when coughing or sneezing (or a shirt sleeve or elbow if no tissue is available); frequently clean high-touch surfaces at work and at home; do not share eating utensils, bottles, or other objects that touch your mouth; and get plenty of sleep, eat a well-balanced diet, and exercise regularly for optimum health.
  • Promote frequent cleaning of high-touch surfaces at work. Facilities Services will start distributing wipes and hand sanitizer to each department on Monday, September 14 (for special requests, contact the Facilities Services Help Desk at extension 3713). Recommend that staff and faculty use the disposable wipes so that commonly-used surfaces (e.g., doorknobs, keyboards, remote controls, counters, desks) can be wiped down regularly or before the next person's use. Recommend that staff and faculty use the hand sanitizer after using such surfaces.

Please also ensure that staff and faculty in your area are aware of the availability of flu shots on campus and through Group Health Cooperative and make it possible for them to take time away from work to get the vaccination. Seasonal flu shots will be available on campus on Friday, November 13, in conjunction with Human Resources annual health fair. These vaccinations are free for faculty and staff members. Information about Group Health's seasonal flu shot clinics is available at www.ghc.org/healthAndWellness/?item=/common/healthAndWellness/conditions/coldsAndFlu/flu-clinics.html. Faculty and staff members should consult with their health care providers regarding H1N1 vaccinations.

While we can't predict when and how this year's flu season will impact us departmentally or campus-wide, it's important that we consider now how we might respond from a staffing perspective if a significant percentage of staff and faculty in our departments are not able to be at work. The nature and extent of advance planning for such exigencies will necessarily vary from department to department but each of us needs to be engaged in advance planning for a "worst case" scenario.

Additional information about H1N1 is posted on this Web site, and we will all work to stay in good communication with you on these topics as the semester progresses.

Please share your questions and suggestions with us by writing hr@pugetsound.edu.

Rosa Beth Gibson for Human Resources/Career and Employment Services

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09.02.09 Message to all faculty from Academic Dean's Office

As we begin the new academic year, we have received a few inquiries about Puget Sound's preparation for the H1N1 "swine" flu virus. Counseling, Health, and Wellness Services (CHWS) continues to monitor the situation and receives regular updates from the Centers for Disease Control (CDC) and the Pierce County Health Department. The CDC expects the H1N1 virus, in conjunction with regular seasonal influenza viruses, potentially to cause a significant number of flu cases. While most cases of H1N1 in the United States have not required hospital care, it is important that we take useful precautions to prevent or limit an outbreak.

Here are a few things you might keep in mind as the semester gets underway:

  1. Consider your attendance policy. Requiring in all instances "a doctor's note" from CHWS for student absence or return to class overburdens our health staff and means that appointments that could go students most in need of care may well be filled by students who are doing fine with self-care, but must see a provider in order "to get a note" for you. This suggestion is consistent with CDC guidelines at www.flu.gov/plan/school/higheredguidance.html. (If there are specific times when a faculty member does need a CHWS consult or documentation about a student, staff are very willing to be a resource, within HIPAA guidelines of course.)
  2. The campus' learning management systems (Blackboard and Moodle) can be used to continue class progress in the event of students' or your absences. If you would like to consider in more detail how you might use either of these systems, you may contact Director of Educational Technology Cindy Riche at criche@pugetsound.edu.
  3. We will continue to focus our communications to students, staff, and faculty on the primary means of preventing or limiting any large flu outbreak - practicing good hygiene and being attentive if feeling ill. Information on preventing flu is available at www.cdc.gov/flu/about/qa/preventing.htm:
    • Avoid close contact with people who are sick. When you are sick, keep your distance from others to protect them from getting sick too.
    • Stay home from work, school, and errands when you have a cough, fever of more than 100 degrees F, a sore throat, and fatigue.
    • Cover your mouth and nose with a tissue when coughing or sneezing. It may prevent those around you from getting sick.
    • Wash your hands often as that will help protect you and others from germs.
    • Avoid touching your eyes, nose or mouth. Germs are often spread when a person touches something that is contaminated with germs and then touches his or her eyes, nose, or mouth.

As noted last spring term, "taking one for the team" by coming to class when you are ill is less wise than making alternative arrangements for classes, via your department chair (or if the chair is not available, the deans' office at x3207 or x3205) and staying home.

  1. The CDC Web site also indicates that the single best way to prevent the flu is for individuals, especially people at high risk for serious complications from the flu, to get a vaccination each fall. Seasonal flu shots will be available free of charge on campus for faculty and staff members on Friday, November 13, in conjunction with Human Resources' health fair. Faculty and staff members who are at risk for H1N1 should contact their health care providers regarding H1N1 vaccinations, which are not expected to be available until mid-October.
  2. CHWS currently has the seasonal flu vaccine in the clinic and is offering the vaccine to students. Students may call x1555 to schedule an appointment. CHWS will be receiving the H1N1 vaccine from the federal government once it is released, and will then provide the immunizations to students per the CDC guidelines. The H1N1 vaccine is likely to be released by mid-October, and it will be given in a series of two injections, 30 days apart.

Best wishes for a healthy school year. Information about HINI is posted on this Web site, and we will all work to stay in good communication with you on these topics as the semester progress.