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FLU PREPAREDNESS

ACADEMIC PLANS FOR POSSIBLE H1N1 FLU PANDEMIC

From the Office of the Provost

This page was last updated August 9, 2010

I. COMMUNICATION OF DATA ON CLASS DISRUPTION BY THE H1N1 FLU

For each academic school (or academic department) at SMU, there will be a designated operating officer for reporting flu cases, and for providing support and guidance for managing academic issues. (Our recommendation is that the Council of Deans meet to discuss this item and make a decision about whether reporting will be done at the school or department level. Once that decision is made, the reporting structure should be added as a link on the SMU H1N1 webpage.)

II. INITIAL GUIDANCE TO FACULTY ON H1N1 FLU PREPAREDNESS

To prepare for a potential flu emergency, the SMU faculty should immediately be asked to include the following information in their course syllabi:

SMU Fall 2009 Emergency Preparedness
Syllabus Insert:

As part of the federal government response to the H1N1 (Swine Flu) virus, the Department of Health and Human Services issued a nationwide public health emergency preparedness declaration on April 26, 2009. The declaration was renewed on July 23, 2009 and is currently in force. For the semester ahead, there is concern that the level and intensity of flu cases could increase substantially.

1) For updates on the campus-wide status of flu conditions at SMU, please visit http://www.smu.edu/flu.

2) If flu conditions require cancellation of a class session or other changes for this course, an email will be sent to all class members.

3) In the event of a major campus emergency at SMU, course requirements, deadlines, and grading percentages are subject to changes that may be necessitated by a revised semester calendar or other circumstances beyond the instructor’s control.

III. SUPPORT FOR FACULTY TEACHING DURING AN H1N1 FLU DISRUPTION

A. We understand that SMU Office of Information Technology is working on a plan to provide faculty with resources to support teaching during a flu outbreak. We re-emphasize the need for such a plan that is appropriately communicated to the faculty. The following link at the University of Michigan provides an example of such a web-based support page: http://www.crlt.umich.edu/flu/index.php

B. In the month ahead, all SMU faculty should receive a list of potential options for covering a class due to illness of the professor, cancellation of class, or high absenteeism. Options could include:

  • Class coverage by colleagues
  • Online assignments (i.e., Blackboard)
  • E-mail
  • Self-taught modules
  • Podcasts
  • Acrobat Connect (or a similar conferencing software)
  • Phone conferences

The objective would be to provide faculty with a menu of options and support when needed on how to implement an option such as Adobe Connect.

The following link provides an example from Purdue University for their Acrobat Connect program that can be used for real-time meetings and seminars enriched with interactive presentations and discussion capabilities: http://www.itap.purdue.edu/tlt/gomeet/

C. Faculty members are urged to have exams prepared as early as possible to avoid cancellation. If exams are prepared in advance, a colleague, adjunct, or graduate student may be able to proctor the exam.

IV. ADVICE FOR MANAGING ABSENCES AND MISSED ASSIGNMENTS AND EXAMS DURING AN H1N1 FLU OCCURRENCE

A. Faculty should be informed that the SMU Health Center does not provide excuses for class absences [1] and that the Center for Disease Control recommends that Institutions of Higher Education refrain from requiring written medical confirmation during this outbreak. [2]

B. Students and faculty should protect one another by observing social distancing recommendations made by the CDC, including remaining isolated until fever-free for at least 24 hours without fever-reducing medication.

C. Faculty members are encouraged to be flexible during this time regarding make-up exams and assignments. Under no circumstances should penalties for non-attendance be sufficiently rigid that students feel compelled to attend class when ill and/or contagious.

V. CRITERIA FOR CANCELLATION OF CLASSES DUE TO EXTRAORDINARY CIRCUMSTANCES

Decisions regarding suspension of classes and University activities rest with the President and Provost in consultation with appropriate university, city, county, state and federal guidelines [3]. Guidance to faculty will be generated accordingly.


[1] From http://smu.edu/healthcenter/policy/absenceclass.asp: “We do not provide documentation for granting excused absences from class. However, if students report an illness to you to explain an absence, we encourage you to take the explanation at face value and to make accommodations for the student to keep up with the class. It is helpful for professors to elaborate their own policies with regard to illness in their attendance policy.”

[2] From http://www.flu.gov/: “Do not require a doctor’s note to confirm illness or recovery. Doctor’s offices may be very busy and may not be able to provide such documentation in a timely way.”

[3] From http://flu.gov/plan/school/higheredguidance.html: “The length of time classes should be suspended will vary depending on the goal of class suspension as well as the severity and extent of illness. IHEs that suspend classes should do so for at least five to seven calendar days. Before the end of this period, the IHE, in collaboration with public health officials, should reassess the epidemiology of the disease and the benefits and consequences of continuing the suspension or resuming classes.”