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Overview of H1N1 Pre-emptive Activities and Pandemic Response Plans of Utah’s Public and Non-profit Higher Education Institutions

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Overview of H1N1 Pre-emptive Activities and Pandemic Response Plans of Utah’s Public and Non-profit Higher Education Institutions

Background In preparation for the Fall 2009 semester, all of Utah’s public and non-profit colleges and universities began implementing preventative measures to mitigate a potential widespread flu outbreak outbreak on a higher education education campus. Preventative activities have been primarily based on the recommendations outlined by the CDC 1 including: • •



• •

Increased regular cleaning of high-touch of high-touch surfaces. Enhanced availability of sanitizing resources such as wipes, hand sanitizer, soap, etc. Promotion of good hygiene and germ etiquette among faculty, staff, and students. Modification of class attendance policies to allow for flu-related absences. Communication Communica tion to faculty, staff, students, parents, and K-12 partners

regarding H1N1 pre-emptive policies. Prominently-placed Prominently-pla ced H1N1 virus information on school websites. Consideration of well-balanced isolation policies for on-campus housing. Contact information to obtain further information. According to the Utah Department of Health (UDOH)and the US Centers of Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), the peak flu season is expected to occur in early November 2009. 2009. On October 7, 2009, UDOH2 reported a statewide increase in influenza-like-illnesses influenza-like-il lnesses during th the e first week of October. According to the CDC for the week ending October 3, “Over 99% of all subtyped influenza A viruses reported to CDC this week were 2009 influenza A (H1N1) viruses.”3 •





Under the direction of the Commissioner and in coordination through the Chief  Student Services Officers (CSSOs), each USHE is developing a response plan to the H1N1 pandemic threat. This summary outlines the role of the Commissioner’s Commissioner’s Office regarding potential campus closures, quarantines, quarantines, or cancellation of classes and the communications communic ations procedures related to those strategies.

Pandemic Response Plan Preparation

1 CDC Guidance for Responses to Influenza for Institutions of Higher Education during the http://www.flu.gov/professiona .gov/professional/school/highere l/school/higheredguidance.html dguidance.html.. 2009-2010 Academic Year, http://www.flu 2 2009 Pandemic Influenza A (H1N1) Situation and Surveillance Surveillance Report, Utah Department of  Health, http://health.u http://health.utah.gov/epi/h1n1flu tah.gov/epi/h1n1flu/archive/ar /archive/archive.html#sitr chive.html#sitrep ep.. 3 FluView FluView,, A weekly Influenza Surveillance Surveillance Report Report of the CDC, http://www.cdc.gov/flu/weekly/.. http://www.cdc.gov/flu/weekly/

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All 13 of Utah’s public and non-profit higher education institut institutions ions have started the process of developing/revising their pandemic response plans based on the recent H1N1 influenza A virus outbreak outbreak beginning beginning in early 2009. Schools are at varying levels of planning and implementation of those plans, but all are actively working through the details of their plans. Some general components included in an institution’s response plan: •

Identifies all critical functions of the institution.

















Specifiestostrategies for ensuring the continuity and measures needed maintain the staffing levels required of to critical sustainfunctions, essential functions in all departments. Specifies strategies for minimizing infection risks for faculty, staff, and students; including education, encouraging good hygiene and reducing interactions between and among employees and customers. Specifies strategies for ensuring that all departments have resources needed to sustain essential operations. Specifies strategies for ensuring the protection of facilities, informa information tion systems, data, and essential documents and records. Establishes contingency contingency plans for dealing with campus/area quarantines quarantines or other developments that require the reduction in operating hours or the closure of some facilities. Assesses the financial risks of a pandemic and establish strategies for mitigating the financial risks of a pandemic (e.g. tuition refunds, financial aid, salaries, contracts, etc.). Establishes a crisis communications process ensuring the delivery of essential information to necessary necessary employees, students, surrounding businesses, Commissioner’s Commissioner’ s Office, and the public at large. Describes the policies and procedures required to implement the response measures measures..

Role of the Office of the Commissioner of Higher Education  The Commissioner’s office should be included in discussions discussions by a public college or university regarding a possible closure, quarantine, or cancellation of classes due to a pandemic outbreak. outbreak. The Commissioner’s Commissioner’s office will will be the primary liaison between schools and state entities including the Governor’s office, legislative leaders, the ic Utah Department Department HealthYoung to helpUniversity, in the ity, implementation implementa tion of a school’s and pandem pandemic response plan. of Brigham Univers LDS Business College, and Westminster College should also notify the Commissioner of any closure/quarantines closure/quar antines to ensure proper notification notification of neighboring institut institutions. ions. The Commissioner’s Commissi oner’s Office will be the primary information conduit between state agencies and higher education institutions, analogous to the local coordination between individual higher education institutions and local health departments. departments. As a statewide office, the Commissioner’s Office can assist as convener among schools to coordinate a campus closure/quarantine closure/quarantine and ensure proper engagement of neighboring institutions institutions and state state agencies. However, the Commissioner’s Commissioner’s Office Office does not expect to mandate mandate a campus closure/quarantine closure/quarantine upon an institution. institution. It will rely campus response teams and local public health officials who best understand

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the context of the outbreak and know the resources necessary to execute pandemic response plans. As a college or university prepares and revises its pandemic respons response e plan, it should include strategies that address a campus-wide campus-wide closure, quarantine, or cancellation of classes classes enacted by a neighboring neighboring institutio institution. n. Because each school school is different in its proximity to neighboring neighboring institutions, each school should coordinate these plans with neighboring institutions, local health departments, and the Commissioner’s Commissi oner’s Office.  The Commissioner’s Commissioner’s Office recognizes the unique nature of the University of Utah and will not be as directly involved in the school’s coordination between its Health Sciences Center and the Utah Department of Health.

Emergency Communications Procedures Public communications, communications, including news media, regarding a closure/quarantine closure/quarantine will be led by the institution in close coordination with local health officials and the Commissioner’s Commissi oner’s Office. Institutions should should include the Commissioner’s Commissioner’s Office as early as possible in discussions among institution administrators regarding a potential closure, quarantine, or cancellation of classes. Emergency communications communic ations plans should include the primary emergency contacts in the Commissioner’s Office (Contact Spencer Jenkins for additional details: 801-999Commissioner’s 0202, [email protected]): [email protected]): William Sederburg, Commissioner (Joyce Cottrell, Assistant) Dave Buhler, Associate Commissioner for Public Affairs Spencer Jenkins, Assistant Commissioner for Public Affairs Institutions have been requested to provide contact information for the Pandemic Response Team lead to the Commissioner’s Office. •





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