September 4, 2009
Dear students, faculty and staff:
As you know, SMU, like other universities, is facing the challenges posed by the worldwide outbreak of the Novel H1N1 flu. It is important that we work together in addressing these challenges to advance the well-being of our community. Please heed the information below.
Your active involvement in prevention and response is critical. SMU is treating flu-like illnesses as if they were Novel H1N1 flu. Following guidelines from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, I am asking that all students, faculty and staff with influenza-like illness remain home until 24 hours after the absence of fever without the use of fever-reducing medications. Students who live in the Dallas area should consider remaining at their family’s home; on-campus residential students who cannot return home should remain in their residence halls until they are well, according to CDC guidelines. Students can call the SMU Health Center at 214-768-2141 for appointments or 24-hour medical advice.
Professors and supervisors should be flexible with students and staff so that they can remain at home during their illness to minimize the spread of flu on campus. Doctors’ notes are not required to be excused from or to return to class or work. Employees should contact their supervisors directly to let them know of their absence, and students should e-mail their professors. The Office of the Dean of Students is available to help students in communicating with professors. The Residence Life staff will assist students in obtaining meals and meeting other needs.
So that SMU can report accurate data to various constituents and agencies about the number of flu cases, and make informed decisions about University gatherings and use of facilities, I also am asking everyone in the SMU community who is affected by the flu to report their status via the Flu Absence Reporting Form housed on the SMU flu website: smu.edu/flu. This will allow us to understand the level of absence campus-wide. If you are out sick with the flu and do not have access to a computer, please contact your supervisor, hall director or someone who can report your information via the web form for you. The Provost, Vice President for Student Affairs and I are asking all Vice Presidents, Deans and Department Heads/Chairs to reinforce this message with their students, faculty and staff so that we can ensure accurate flu-related absence reporting throughout the campus.
In addition, University administrators should watch their e-mail and the flu website for updated information about online reporting of events and large gatherings.
Faculty, supervisors and staff should review documents created by the Department of Human Resources that will help prepare your department in advance for anticipated absences: Advance Workplace Preparations for Emergency Situations and Telecommuting During Emergency Situations. For further information on staff absences, see Employee Absences During a Flu Outbreak.
Faculty and staff should contact the Office of Information Technology to seek assistance in the utilization of Blackboard, conference calling and other technologies that will allow us to continue our academic mission even if significant numbers of students, faculty and staff are absent.
Updates to flu information will be posted on the web. In particular, I refer you to the letter that has been sent to SMU parents, posted at smu.edu/flu. This website also includes important information on good health habits as a preventive measure.
Thank you in advance for your cooperation as we work together to address these challenges.
R. Gerald Turner