From local reports
With the start of fall classes, West Virginia University at Parkersburg is taking steps to prepare for the possibility of a campus H1N1 flu outbreak.
WVU Parkersburg administrators met recently to discuss a proactive strategy to minimize the impact of the H1N1 and seasonal flu on campus students, faculty and staff. Among the initiatives are plans to make available flu shots, hand sanitizers, respiratory masks, and on-site to on-line converted courses, as situations warrant.
"We are following the campus Safety Plan related to pre-pandemic preparations," said Dave White, director of facilities and grounds and campus safety officer.
"Our goal is to minimize the spread of the virus, sustain educational and activity functions, and maintain facility operational functions as well as provide support to the campus community."
White noted one of the most important components of making preparations is campus communications.
"We are collaborating with local emergency response and public health planners to ensure coordination of our response and communicate preparation initiatives to the campus community," he said.
Of course, he added, individual prevention techniques are critical to minimizing the spread of flu, including washing hands frequently, covering one's mouth or nose when coughing or sneezing, knowing the signs of the flu, and staying home when ill.
"We want our students and campus community to be safe and healthy during this potential flu impact," White said. "The best way is for each of us to take responsibility for our personal wellness."
The college has set up a Web site (www.wvup.edu/flu) to provide campus, local, state and national updates regarding the H1N1 and seasonal virus. The "Be Smart About the Flu" site includes campus initiative links as well as links to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and area health departments.
White noted the college is monitoring CDC guidance regarding recommended responses by higher education institutions.
Other campus initiatives include scrolling information on campus TV monitors which encourages proactive measures to avoid the flu. Bookmarks and other printed reminders are being utilized to communicate steps to take to stay healthy during flu season. The college's Facebook and Twitter pages are also being used to convey flu preparedness information.
White and Cindy Kelley, associate dean for academic affairs, attended a training session Aug. 26 in Charleston for the state's colleges and universities regarding preparations to mitigate H1N1 virus outbreaks. Dr. Cathy Slemp, the state's health officer and director of the Center for Threat Preparedness, was the keynote speaker.