August 25, 2009
Dear Wittenberg Parent,
It is wonderful to have your sons and daughters back on campus and to sense the excitement of the coming year. I am sure you have seen recent media attention focused on the H1N1 influenza virus. I am writing to assure you that we, too, are focused on the issue, actively preparing for flu season and closely monitoring directives from the Centers for Disease Control and the Ohio Department of Health. We are also meeting with public health officials regularly. Wittenberg has a pandemic flu preparedness committee comprised of individuals from across campus, and a plan to proactively deal with and monitor any cases of influenza that appear on campus. I am also writing to ask for your help in ensuring that our students remain healthy on campus.
The most current information on the H1N1 virus suggests that young adults are among the population that is more likely to contract the virus, and “at-risk” students with pre-existing conditions may be especially vulnerable. Since the H1N1 shot will not be available until later this fall, I cannot emphasize enough the importance of basic prevention. I am regularly communicating with students, and your help in reinforcing these messages with your sons and daughters can make a real difference at Wittenberg:
· Wash or sanitize your hands SEVERAL times per day.
· Get enough rest.
· Don’t share drinks or food.
· Cough and sneeze into your sleeve, not your hands.
· When sick, call the health center, e-mail your professors and isolate yourself in your residence hall. Go out only when necessary to avoid contact with others who may not be ill.
It is anticipated that most students who become ill with this influenza-like virus will be able to manage their symptoms with over-the-counter medications while remaining on campus. Students who have flu-like symptoms should call the campus health center for an appointment and evaluation of their symptoms. Students who are diagnosed with the virus will likely be urged to stay in a designated single room in one of our dormitories, where a residence life professional and our medical staff can monitor them. Students will be encouraged to remain in “social isolation” and not to return to classes or co-curricular activities until they are afebrile for 24 hours, without the use of acetaminophen or ibuprofen.
It is also important to encourage your student to talk with his or her professors early in the semester—before any illness occurs—about the requirements of each class and the procedures for missed classes. Our faculty members are aware of our H1N1 preparedness strategies, and will likely have conversations with their classes about how to make up missed work and stay up-to-date with coursework.
Finally, please encourage your student to get a flu shot. This year, there are two types of flu shots, one for the seasonal influenza, and one specifically for the H1N1 virus that the CDC expects to make available later this fall. Both flu shots will be available in our health center, and more information will be forthcoming as we learn more about release dates and availability.
As always, Wittenberg’s first priority is the safety, health and well-being of our students. We are actively preparing for this flu season and doing everything we can to help your sons and daughters stay healthy. Thank you for partnering with us in this important effort.
Kathryn McKee, M.D.
Medical Director, Wittenberg Health and Counseling Center