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Skip classes, stay in dorm or go home for swine flu students

August 20, 2009 2:43:31 PM PDT
The government is urging colleges to prepare for swine flu this fall and has issued new guidance for keeping students living in dorms from making each other sick.

Officials of the federal Education Department, and the Department of Health and Humans Services says students with flu symptoms should avoid other people until 24 hours after a fever is gone. For students with private dorm rooms, that could mean staying in their rooms and finding a "flu buddy" to help deliver meals and notes from class.

The guidelines urge students who live fairly close to campus to go home until they recover, to keep as few students as possible from being exposed.

For someone with a roommate, it could mean moving to some kind of temporary housing for sick students. And, officials say, if sick students can't avoid close contact with other people, they need to wear surgical masks.

As for students and staffers who are at high-risk for flu complications, health officials ask colleges to allow them to stay home when flu is spreading in the community.

And they want professors to allow leeway on missed classes, exams, and late assignments for students who have been ill. They also urge against requiring a doctor's note to return to work or class, as doctors may be too busy to see them.

Students might delight in another piece of advice to colleges - consider suspending classes if an outbreak becomes serious.

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