A letter to students and parents: Help Bates prepare for H1N1

Dear Students and Parents:

As we excitedly anticipate a new academic year and the return of students to campus, we want to report that during our summer planning, we have monitored the situation with the H1N1 flu (aka “swine flu”).

Symptoms of this strain of influenza have not been more severe than the usual seasonal flu symptoms, but because it is so easily transmitted we have made preparations for handling a busier-than-usual flu season at Bates.

We have been in contact with the Maine Center for Disease Control and will follow their recommended protocols. We share this information with you now so that you can help slow the spread of the virus and lessen the impact on the community.

Preparation before arriving on campus

  • We urge you to bring to campus a “flu kit” containing tissues, hand sanitizer, a digital thermometer, throat lozenges, and acetaminophen or ibuprofen for aches and fever.
  • If you are currently experiencing flu-like symptoms (sore throat, fever, cough, congestion), please do not return to campus until you are well. (The CDC recommends isolation until 24 hours have gone by without fever and without taking fever-reducing medication.) If you will return to campus late because of illness, please contact the Dean of Students Office at deanofstudents@bates.edu or 207-786-6219 to let us know, and we will notify your professors.
  • Because the CDC protocol is to isolate those infected with H1N1 and we have very limited capacity for isolating ill students, we ask the families of students who live within a 300-mile drive of campus to be prepared to pick up their son or daughter at Bates for recovery at home if he or she comes down with H1N1. If you are within 300 miles of campus, please plan now for that contingency.

After arriving on campus

  • Through our Health Center and Residential Life staffs, we will continue to educate students on preventing the spread of the virus. Basic prevention strategies are listed below.
  • We encourage students to get the regular seasonal flu vaccine. We expect this vaccine to be available on campus sometime in September, and students can obtain the vaccine through the Health Center for a $10 charge.
  • The Maine CDC expects the first of many H1N1 vaccine deliveries to arrive by late October and continue into the winter. These H1N1-specific vaccines will be offered to students through the Health Center free of charge. The vaccine will require two doses, with the second administered about a month after the first. Priority for vaccines will be given to students with pre-existing chronic medical conditions that put them at greater risk of complications from the flu, and the vaccine will then be offered to all students as available. Students at greater risk for complications due to a medical condition should inform Health Center staff of the condition upon returning to campus.
  • Students who experience flu-like symptoms should telephone the Health Center at 786-6199. Students should isolate themselves as much as possible when ill — i.e., do not attend classes, practices, meetings, meals in Commons, etc. The Health Center and Dean of Students Office will notify faculty about ill students who are missing classes. Recovery from H1N1 typically takes three to five days.
  • The CDC urges isolation for infected individuals. As noted earlier, the College will have only a limited number of beds for isolating students confirmed with H1N1. Again, this is why we are asking parents within reasonable driving distance to come and pick up their ill son or daughter to recover at home. We recognize that ill students will also likely be in the residence halls, because some cases will not be reported to us and we may run out of isolation beds. Whether a student is self-isolating in a residence hall or in one of our designated isolation beds, food will be provided to these students as they should not go to the Dining Commons to eat. Faculty of students who miss classes because of illness will be notified through the Health Center and the Dean of Students office.

General flu prevention strategies

  • Wash your hands frequently with soap and water or hand sanitizer. Remember, this is especially important when using public surfaces such as keyboards and touch screens.
  • Avoid touching your eyes, nose and mouth.
  • Cover coughs and sneezes with your elbow or sleeve.
  • When sick, isolate yourself from others as much as possible.

Additional information

The Bates College H1N1 Web site will be updated as warranted. We also suggest keeping updated at the H1N1 Web sites for the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and for the Maine CDC.

Because our Health Center does not open until students arrive on campus, and because the health care staff will be very busy providing the best care possible to students in what we anticipate to be a busy flu season, we ask that parents please contact the Health Center only for urgent needs. We hope that information provided to you by your son or daughter as well as information on the Web sites provided here will answer most of your questions. If you do need to contact someone in the Health Center, please call 207-786-6199 or e-mail the director, Christy Tisdale, at ctisdale@bates.edu.

Thank you in advance for your help in keeping our community as healthy as possible, and we wish you safe travels to Bates.

Tedd Goundie
Dean of Students

Christy Tisdale
Director of the Health Center

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