THURSDAY, Aug. 20 (HealthDay News) -- Unless the swine flu outbreak this fall is worse than expected, U.S. colleges and other post-secondary education centers may not need to cancel classes, federal health officials said in a new advisory issued Thursday.
Outlined at an afternoon press conference, the guidance from the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and other agencies follows similar recommendations for U.S. schools and businesses.
Above all, campus administrators need to remain flexible as the fall/winter flu season approaches, because the extent and severity of the swine flu outbreak remains uncertain, experts said.
"The guidance we are releasing today explains the steps universities should take to treat students who contract H1N1 and steps to prevent the spread of the virus in a campus," U.S. Education Secretary Arne Duncan said at the news conference. "Much of it is common sense."
"We are encouraging students to clean commonly used items in their dorm rooms, such as doorknobs, keyboards and remote controls," Duncan said. "We are asking maintenance staff to redouble their efforts to clean surfaces such as sinks, elevator buttons and classroom desks. Ill students need to stay in their dorm rooms until they are free of fever for at least 24 hours. They should ask a friend or roommate to care for them by bringing in meals and medications."
According to the CDC, more communities may be affected by both the H1N1 swine flu and the seasonal flu in coming months than last spring, and every post-secondary institution needs to have a swine flu action plan in place.
Some of the key points for students and staff:
"The recommendations aren't a big change from what we have seen from the New York Department Health and Hygiene," said Kathryn Hutchinson, executive director of student wellness at St. Johns University in New York City.