Friday, October 2, 2009

A-OK Re H1N1

It may help to be a code reader in deciphering the headline here, but the upshot is that UNC Charlotte is well prepared to manage the effects of H1N1 flu on the campus -- particularly with students, and their parents' needs to stay informed.

At last count, we had recorded approximately 85 cases of flu-like symptoms. In accordance with Centers for Disease Control and Prevention practice we are not testing specifically for H1N1 but prescribing through our Student Health Center, responsive measures to flu-like symptoms.

So, the good news is that our campus has so far been spared the rampant spread of flu that has hit some sister UNC schools and others around the nation. There's more good news. On Sept. 22 we launched a special H1N1 Update micro-site that contains information tailored to four important audiences: students, parents, staff and faculty. The site is easily accessed by clicking on the blue and orange H1N1 Update icon at our home page On that site, readers will find information on flu prevention, response to flu, related university policy, and even information about preparedness should the pandemic become disruptive to university operations. We have informed the campus community of this web site via meetings, newsletter, email and social media.

There's even more good news. UNC Charlotte has taken two innovative steps to help students who may be afflicted. First, our dining services department has created Food for Flu, a program whereby students who are sick and self-isolating in their campus dorms can order in a box of food that includes all sorts of nutritious and yummy easy-to-prepare munchies and drinks to tide them over for a few days. The Food for Flu boxes aren't free-of-charge, but they are convenient. Another innovation: a self-reporting mechanism in which students who are ill complete an online form that links to the Dean of Students Office. That office verifies that the student is in fact ill, and then touches base with the student's academic advisor to validate that the student is excused from class without prejudice. Of course, the form includes disclaimers and checks that discourage falsely reporting illness.

That's a lot of good news related to an unfortune situation. So, what's the bad news? There is none, except that, as with any flu season, people will get sick, and that with H1N1, more people than usual will be inconvenienced. In their usual proactive and collaborative way, UNC Charlotte's people have stepped up to meet a challenge and staked their claim to thoughtful improvisation and can-do. And so far, we feel warily confident that we will manage, come what may.

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