Campus updates for Spring term 2020

A Message from President Collins
April 27, 2020

Dear Community:

Based on the recommendations from our partners at the Jackson Laboratory, the MDI Biolab, and the MDI Hospital, we are going to begin requiring mask use on the COA campus until further notice. This is part of an evolving plan for normalizing behavior that can help us reduce the transmission of the Novel Coronavirus-19 here at COA.  

  • All COA staff, faculty, and students must wear some form of covering of the nose and mouth while outdoors on campus and while using inside public spaces (hallways, bathrooms, TAB, Library, etc.).   
  • Students still living on campus need not wear their masks at home
  • Masks need not be worn in personal offices
  • It’s crucial that mask-wearing not compromise other distancing protocols — continue to maintain at least six feet of separation
  • Guests or personnel involved with delivery or pickup must also utilize masks
  • EL Shea and subcontractors are exempt
  • Washable cloth and disposable/medical masks are both acceptable
  • If you are having trouble buying or making such PPE (Personal Protective Equipment), please contact Millard Dority and you will get what you need — we’ve got two excellent local mask-makers that can help!
  • Please use your best judgment around enforcement: we are trying to minimize the occurrence of spittle passing from one person to the next, either through the air or from a surface. Kindly, gently inform people you see without a mask that we have a new policy of mask wearing on campus. The aim is to move toward a safer scenario for these times — we will get there efficiently, but it will take time. 

Thank you. 
Darron 


A Message from President Collins
April 24, 2020

Hi Everyone:

I hope this message finds you well, or well as can be expected under the sometimes trying, often uncertain circumstances we find ourselves in. I’ve been energized by the strength our community has shown as we’ve moved into Spring term, and have really enjoyed seeing some of you at ACM and other venues in recent weeks.

I know that Fall term is likely on many of your minds. Our goal is to reopen our physical doors and have an on-campus term with a full cohort of new and returning students. Over the coming weeks and months, we will be paying close attention to the guidance of national, state, and local officials as we work toward reopening our campus safely. We will continue working closely with our local scientific partners at the Jackson Laboratory, the MDI Biological Laboratory, and the MDI Hospital to gain as great an understanding of the situation as possible as it evolves.

At the same time, we recognize that forces outside of our control may prevent a traditional, on-campus learning and teaching environment in September, and we’re therefore developing a number of contingency plans. We’re also aware that travel or visa issues may have a particular impact on international students, so we’re keeping a close eye on developments that may affect our students’ abilities to cross international borders to be with us in the fall. We understand that some of you may not be able to be on campus for these and other reasons, and are planning for that as well.

I recognize that even the smallest uncertainty around Fall term can be unsettling, but I feel the best way to navigate these waters is to be as open as possible. With that in mind, I’ve asked for the topic to be put on the agenda for the Week 5 ACM. Please come to the meeting with your ideas and suggestions. We may not be able to address a lot of specifics at this point, but your thoughts and experience matter greatly, so I’d appreciate all the feedback and brainstorming you might have.

Until then,
Darron


Week Seven message from President Collins


Week Six message from President Collins


Week Five message from President Collins

Week Four message from President Collins

Week Three message from President Collins

Week Two message from President Collins

Week One message from President Collins

Maine Governor issues stay-at-home order

April 1, 2020

Maine Governor Janet Mills on March 31 issued a Stay Healthy at Home order , which requires people living in Maine to stay at home at all times unless for an essential job or an essential personal reason, such as obtaining food, medicine, health care, or other necessary purposes, through at least April 30.

In issuing this order, the Governor has required those essential businesses that remain open to limit the number of customers in a building at any given time, and to enforce physical distancing requirements. The order further prohibits the use of public transportation unless for an essential reason or job that cannot be done from home, and limits the number of people traveling in private vehicles to persons within the immediate household (you and your housemates) unless transporting for essential activities. Finally, the order mandates that when out of the home or when at work at an essential business, individuals shall maintain a minimum distance of six feet (2 meters) from other persons.

I would encourage you to learn more at the above link, but want to point out that engaging in outdoor exercise activities, such as walking, hiking, running, or biking, is considered an essential personal activity, but only if done so with proper physical distancing requirements. So, definitely get out and exercise. However, keep in mind that Acadia National Park is closed , for all intents and purposes.

Here on campus, all staff who are able to work from home will continue to do so for the next month at least. Under state and federal regulations, we can continue to have a minimal number of employees on campus both in order to keep our institution operating, and to “support public and private K-12 schools, colleges, and universities for the purposes of facilitating distance learning or performing essential functions, if operating under social distancing.” Each department at the college has implemented said distancing guidelines, and in all cases we are restricting access to campus except when absolutely necessary.

For those of you in the US outside of Maine, I encourage you to consult this interactive NY Times map to view your state’s regulations . And for those of you living abroad, Business Insider has updated international information  that I would recommend you become familiar with.

We know that social distancing impacts mental and physical health. For those of you struggling with the changes to your routine wrought by this virus and the isolation and restrictions on human contact we now live with, please use the support available. For those of you in state, our counselors are still available to support you. For those of you elsewhere, licensing regulations do not currently allow our counselors to offer telehealth services to you, but we can help you identify resources in your local community or work to provide emotional support through advising by student life staff. We are also working on some resources to support your mental and physical wellness this term and will send more information soon. Please also check the COA connects webpage for more information on these options and to see what our community is doing to stay connected.


A message from the academic deans 

March 26, 2020

Dear students,

We appreciate your continued patience and understanding as we gear up for a brand new online term this spring under unfamiliar conditions for most of us. Below are instructions for how to access your spring classes as well as some requests and recommendations regarding the add/drop period and grading options.

If you filled out the google form for revising your spring registration, those changes have been made or you have been sent an email with additional questions. If you have revisions that you would still like to request, you can fill out the google Add/Drop form through Friday March 27th at 4pm. 

Your current classes will appear in your Google Classroom app. You should see the three classes that you are registered for there.  

To access your classes:
After signing into your COA Gmail, click on the Google apps icon in the upper right hand corner and scroll down to select Google Classroom. All of the classes you’ve registered for should appear. By clicking on to any of these classes, you should see instructions before Monday for accessing the first class. If the instructor is using a different platform, information to access that alternative platform should be posted on the class stream. If you do not see a class you are registered for, please check your email for a note from the registrar; if there isn’t anything please reach out to your instructor and the registrar. 

Generally, we strongly encourage you to reach out to your instructors if you have any questions about your courses and also to be in contact with your advisors to let them know how things are going as you navigate this different learning environment. 

Week 1 changes in registration
While Add/Drop deadline is Friday, March 27, we recognize the complexities of moving to online classes this spring and that some of you may decide during Week 1 that a class does not serve your academic goals or interests.  If you feel like you would benefit from being able to check out another course’s content and predominant online teaching methods before making an informed decision, you will need to reach out to the instructor to determine 1) if they have space to allow additional students to enroll; and 2) if they would temporarily add you to their Google Classroom. Instructors will get back to you and let you know if there is room, discuss with you about your preparation for the courses, and add you to the Google Classroom if there is room and you are qualified. If you decide to change your registration, you will need to notify the Registrar and forward electronic approval from the instructor. There will be no late fees applied for changes made during Week 1.

Letter Grade versus Credit/No Credit
As always, you have the option to take courses for a letter grade (the default) or CR/NC. Given the circumstances, we encourage you to consider the latter option. Most if not all of you will be taking an online course for the first time. Engaging with learning in this new way may present challenges and insights that you have yet to encounter. For this reason, taking a course CR/NC can take some pressure off your learning experience and allow you to focus on the subjects you are learning rather than how your work will be evaluated. We also understand and respect that some of you will choose to take letter grades due to scholarship requirements or future graduate school plans. Having said that, taking one course CR/NC and the others for a letter grade is also an option.

Outside component for courses
It is very possible that some of you are still under a two-week self-quarantine and will be stuck inside for the first few days or weeks of the term or are under some type of government-mandated lockdown. If you are asked to go outside or do something that runs counter to any safety protocols for you or your area, you should check in with your instructor and make sure that they understand your local situation and can offer some alternative.  

Auditing a Course
With the advent of online teaching, we are not encouraging auditing classes. If you are considering auditing a class, you should be aware of the existing policy (p. 25 of our course catalog) and make sure that the instructor whose class you wish to audit will take auditors. You will need to notify the Registrar, and will need to forward electronic approval from the instructor.  The audit fee is $150 plus any lab fee.

Troubleshooting problems in the first ten days of the term
There is no question that we will all run into anticipated and unimagined difficulties with this new situation. Please refer to the following individuals for whatever issues you cannot solve on your own:

In addition to these point people, we encourage you to create study groups with classmates and friends in which you can meet to share tips and offer mutual support.  

We have confidence in your capacity to learn and grow in these circumstances, and in our extraordinary community to adapt to this online learning environment with resourcefulness, reciprocity, and resilience.

Academic Deans Team


A message from President Collins

Update from President Collins

March 16, 2020

Hi Everyone:

My institutional goals during these times of COVID-19 are: 1) to serve our students with everything we can muster, while maintaining our own health and wellbeing; 2) to foster public health on campus, on MDI, and across the globe with appropriate measures of social distancing and attention to hygiene, but without sacrificing compassion and empathy; and 3) to evolve through this experience to become a better, stronger, more creative COA.

I know we can do it. I also feel strongly that success across those goals may require that we embrace more discipline around hierarchy and organizational structure than we are used to… just a bit and just temporarily.

The COVID-19 Emergency Response Team will organize the work we have in front of us: me, Lynn Boulger, Dave Feldman, Bonnie Tai, Sara Luke, Chris Petersen, Rob Levin, Heather Albert-Knopp, Millard Dority, Ken Hill, Missy Cook, Judy Allen, and Deb DeForest. 

That group identified two important considerations related to hierarchy and structure that we want to cover in this email: 1) Continuity of operations, and 2) communications with our students, each other, and the public.

1. Continuity of operations 

First and foremost, I want to reiterate our commitment to keeping everyone employed during spring term, even as our students disperse to locations around the world and we move to online teaching and learning. We are, first and foremost, a community that takes care of each other.

Following the recommendations of public health experts, we are moving to a work-from-home approach wherever possible, for at least the next couple of weeks, and possibly much longer. In doing so we help limit community spread of the virus, and we keep our employees as safe and healthy as possible. Only in a condition of health can we serve our students.

Supervisors should first assess the needs of their offices and work with their staff to determine who can get their work done from home, and, second, determine what type of equipment or accommodations may be necessary to do so. Any employee that is deemed able to accomplish their work from home should begin doing so tomorrow. Supervisors should contact helpdesk@coa.edu for all technical needs (laptops, taking computers home, etc.).

If the nature of your work requires you to be on-campus, your supervisor will work on adaptations such as staggered work schedules, moving desks further apart, or changing your projects to facilitate doing things from home. Anyone who needs to come to campus must practice thorough hand washing and social distancing.

Most Importantly: If you feel sick, do not come to campus under any circumstances and report your illness to Barbara Conry (see below). If you have traveled or been in contact with someone who has been sick, you must wait 14 days before coming to campus.

For employees who can’t do their jobs from home, but are in a higher risk category for complications from COVID-19 and feel uncomfortable coming to campus, I am asking supervisors to consider reassignments to work that could be done from home, as well as temporary reassignments to other departments. This will take coordination and creativity, and, frankly, we need to do some collective thinking on this issue. Let’s give ourselves some time to identify best practices in this area once we have ensured our students are safe and have their immediate needs met. Employees in this category also may consider using vacation and personal time. Please discuss these options with your supervisor.

I recognize the equity issues that arise with this new way of working. We do not have all the answers yet, but will be working to identify and address these. Thank you, again, for your patience and your willingness to be flexible.

To help work on these and other issues that may arise related to staffing, and in light of the vacancy at the Administrative Dean position, I have designated Lynn Boulger as staff liaison. If you have a question that cannot be resolved by your supervisor, or a question that your supervisor can’t yet answer, please reach out to Lynn. Supervisors with questions should also reach out to Lynn. She will serve as the clearinghouse for staffing issues so that relevant information can be streamlined, clear, and organized. As part of the COVID-19 response team, Lynn will work with the personnel committee to address and gather ideas around staff-related issues.

2. Communications 

Our biggest goal around communications right now is to minimize emails, to keep information organized, and to make sure we are all on the same page. For this reason, I am appointing people to lead communications related to academics, student life, and other areas (see below). I am energized by all of the great ideas and information, and I really want you to keep those ideas coming, but I also want to make sure we are processing them in a way that is meaningful.

Importantly, I would ask you to minimize the use of the “student” and “community” lists. I do not want students to feel the need to check their emails again and again right now. They have enough going on with getting settled, figuring out living arrangements, and just generally dealing with this big disruption in their lives. If you have a message that you feel needs to go to these groups, please share it with the appropriate point person below.

I’d also ask you to minimize the use of the “faculty” and “staff” lists as much as possible. There is much helpful information being shared, but we need to channel that information to the following point people in order to avoid a deluge of emails and communications at cross-purposes. Please contact the following:

Thank you so much for your continuing commitment to working as a team to help move COA through these unprecedented times. We are truly one big family right now, and together we will get through this as best as we can.

Take care of yourself and one another,

Darron


Staff employment during the spring term

March 14, 2020

College of the Atlantic is committed to maintaining full employment for COA staff during the 2020 spring term. We realize that there are areas of the college that are closing or slowing down for spring, due to our transition to online classes and services, but the plan is to keep everyone working. As Darron Collins announced at yesterday’s All College Meeting, this may mean that some job roles need to shift. Supervisors and others will be working on this over the next few weeks. 


Important update from President Collins

March 12, 2020

Dear College of the Atlantic Community,

I want to begin by acknowledging the trying and difficult nature of what many of us are experiencing surrounding the COVID-19 pandemic. Together, we are facing one of the biggest public health emergencies of modern times. Much is being asked of you as we move through what is increasingly looking like a very disruptive period, but I fully believe we can rise to the task and continue to support each other as a community through these unique times.

Our responsibility at COA is first and foremost to do everything we can to protect the health and safety of our students, staff, and faculty, and to contribute to wider public health measures to help protect our community. In light of those responsibilities, and based on the growing nature of the COVID-19 pandemic, we are moving all instruction for spring term 2020 to an online format, closing campus residence halls, and eliminating all in-person services for the remainder of the academic year. After much consultation, thought, and study, I believe that this is the very best decision for the COA community.

Academics

COA is committed to providing an exceptional education in human ecology and we will continue to do so during the spring, even as we incorporate new technologies for learning. Faculty members are working diligently to alter, adapt, and create courses that will work well for their students this spring. By Friday morning, March 20, we will be posting a revised slate of courses online. Registration will commence on Monday, March 23. Details about the registration process will be forthcoming from registrar Judy Allen via email within the next few days and will also be posted online on our COVID-19 page.

Obviously, some classes will translate quite well to an online format, while others might not — and I fully recognize that for some students, this might put a hurdle in your academic path. For that reason, we are instituting more flexibility for independent studies, residencies, and other learning options for spring term.

All outdoor and wilderness leadership programs set for spring break have been cancelled, as has the short course in molecular biology with the MDI Biological Laboratory, and our abroad program in France.

  • If you have questions regarding the spring academic program, please contact provost Ken Hill at khill@coa.edu . With questions about specific courses, please contact the instructor.
  • If you have questions or would just like to discuss learning in an online environment, please contact COA dean of teaching and learning Bonnie Tai at btai@coa.edu .

Residence halls

COA residence halls will be closing on Wednesday, 3.18. Students must have their things packed and be moved out by this date. Students that feel they cannot move out and have compelling reasons as to why they need to stay, or believe they are facing undue hardships as a result of this decision, are encouraged to petition Student Life for an exemption to this policy.

Students are asked to pack all of their things before they leave their rooms. We will be supplying boxes in order to facilitate this. For students who cannot bring their things with them, we are making storage available locally and free of charge. We can also ship items for students, provided they cover the costs.

While food service typically ends with the last day of the term, we will be opening TAB for lunch for students this Saturday, March 14 through Wednesday, March 18, in order to make things just a little easier for everyone as they prepare to leave campus.

For those students living off campus, you should actively consider what is best for you at this time. I encourage you to go home to be with your family if that is possible, as we do not have a good idea of how long this pandemic might last, or of any potential new travel and quarantine restrictions that might arise. We understand that for some, Bar Harbor is home or the best and safest place to be. If that is the case, I need to remind you that while we will have some faculty and staff working on campus during spring term, all in-person services will be suspended after Wednesday, March 18.

We will be offering free shuttle service to Bar Harbor airport, Bangor airport, and bus stations in Bangor through next Wednesday.

  • To petition for a housing exemption, or to learn more about airport shuttles, please contact COA Student Life operations manager Ingrid Hill at ihill@coa.edu .
  • For questions about our move-out program, please contact COA dir. of buildings and grounds Millard Dority at mdority@coa.edu .

Visitors

We are instituting a no-visitor policy on campus, effective immediately. The only exceptions to this policy are family and friends coming to help students move out. In these instances, we ask our visitors to practice social distancing and responsible infection control behaviors, such as washing hands and covering coughs and sneezes. Family and friends are welcome to help students move out, but are not allowed to stay on campus.

All other planned visits and spring term events are cancelled.

Financial aid

While the cost of tuition at COA will remain the same for spring term, we are assessing other costs and fees to place them in-line with our online course offerings. Realizing that there will be implications on financial aid, we are making available one-on-one information sessions for all students. In addition:

  • We will not be charging room and board to students not living on campus
  • We are assessing course fees, lab fees, student services fees, and other charges to see what can be reduced
  • We are assessing our work-study program with the goal of providing as many employment opportunities as we can during the term, regardless of location

For questions related to financial aid, contact Amy McIntire at amcintire@coa.edu or Linda Black at lblack@coa.edu .

You can schedule an individual meeting at this link by clicking “save” on the time slot you’d like to reserve. Meetings will be offered in-person, by phone, or by computer until Wednesday, and by phone or computer after.

Student support

We are fully committed to maintaining our sense of community under these new circumstances. Because we are moving to online courses, we will be suspending our campus-based services for spring term and cancelling programming that was planned for spring break. We plan to continue to meet student needs by offering programming and resources in new ways as we ensure that we have a supportive and engaged educational environment.

Student Life staff will continue to be available to students to advise and provide support, and to offer creative programming. We are talking with campus counselors about the possibility of offering mental health services by phone or video call, and we are actively exploring options for a virtual outing club, online wellness resources, social hangouts and virtual residence life offered by RAs. In addition, COA2 will continue to offer programming that will be available to all students. We are talking with the writing center, study skills person and others about academic support options.

I know that these decisions and changes are significant and are disruptive to people’s spring plans. If individuals are having a hard time or finding that they are dealing with anxiety and increased stress, please reach out to:

They are all available to help students navigate these challenging times.

Travel

Earlier this week, we curtailed all non-essential, COA-affiliated travel. This restriction still holds.

For all community members working on campus beginning next week: if you leave the state of Maine, or there is reason to believe you have been exposed to someone who has been exposed to COVID-19, you are required to remain off campus for 14 days after your return.

For questions related to this policy, COA staff and faculty should contact their supervisor.

***

As I stated in All College Meeting this week, COA is an innovative school — we began as such and have doggedly held onto that approach, constantly growing and evolving, questioning ourselves, and working to use human ecology to explore and address the most pressing questions of our day. It is this spirit that will carry us through these challenging times. We are a community that comes together for one another, that supports each other, and that learns, grows, and evolves together. Doing so at a distance this spring will be challenging, yes, but I’m also excited in many ways, and hope you will be too. If we all continue to work together, we can not only accomplish what we need to this term, but accomplish it really well.

Our plan is to be fully back to normal by fall term. We will be evaluating this outlook as part of our regular meetings, and will update you on our thoughts regarding fall term registration by mid-April. For now, please keep an eye on your email and refer to coa.edu/news/covid-19/ for a full compendium of information regarding our plans for spring term.

In the meantime, be kind to one another. Be supportive. We’ll get through this.

Darron


 Update from Darron Collins

March 11, 2020

Due to rapidly changing circumstances, we are asking students not to change any spring break travel plans at this time. We will issue further guidance by 7pm on Thursday 3/12/20. We are actively considering developing our spring term in an alternative, online format. Details will be shared shortly. 

The COVID-19 virus will continue to throw new challenges at us hour by hour. Especially after the outpouring of creative support at today’s faculty meeting and the All College Meeting, I have great confidence in this community’s ability to rise to this challenge and to support one another. 


Update on COVID-19 planning and travel planning survey

March 6, 2020

According to the latest information provided by the US Centers for Disease Control (CDC), Maine still does not have any confirmed cases of the virus. However, we continue to monitor the situation closely and are in active communication with local and state health officials. We are reviewing our infectious disease protocols, taking appropriate steps for prevention, and working to have plans in place. This process includes reviewing the guidance provided to higher education by the American College Health Association, the CDC, the National Association of Student Personnel Administrators, the US State Department, and several other professional associations focused on international education.

Travel

At this time, the college is examining and evaluating staff, student, and faculty travel plans, especially COA-sponsored off-campus trips. In order to help us inform our response, we are asking people to voluntarily report all travel undertaken or planned for between Feb. 15 and June 10, 2020 (the end of spring term). Please use this link to share all your travel outside the state of Maine occurring during this time period. You can submit information using the link as many times as needed to inform us of your recent and future travel.

Regarding guidelines or recommendations for travel, we are deferring to the CDC’s travel information and recommend that you do the same. As of now, the CDC recommends that travelers avoid all nonessential travel to China, Iran, South Korea, and Italy, and that older adults or those who have chronic medical conditions consider postponing travel to Japan. The World Health Organization has extensive recommendations regarding hygiene and infection control while traveling.

We are encouraging students who have travel planned as part of their academic program for spring to work with their advisors and project directors to create contingency plans, should the student or the college determine that the proposed travel is dangerous or ill-advised for any reason. Please reach out if you need help working on a back-up plan; we will work with you to ensure that proper accommodations are made.

Community spread and prevention

In the coming days, the campus community will see signage consistent with the guidelines we shared last week about how to prevent the spread of infectious diseases, and what to do should one become sick. The college will be distributing supplies across campus to aid in disinfection of offices and campus vehicles, and will be increasing efforts by custodial staff to disinfect public high traffic areas. We will also be distributing hand sanitizer to aid in prevention, although guidance is still to focus on hand washing whenever possible .

Early next week the college will convene our emergency response team to continue the planning work already underway to ensure continuity of operations and the safety and health of our community in the event of a COVID-19 outbreak here on campus or nearby. The goal of the team will be to work with relevant staff and faculty to ensure that we are fully prepared to respond to impacts on the academic program, housing and dining services, health and mental health services, campus gatherings, and other services and activities of the college. This will include identifying how to address absences from work or class as a result of illness, and alternatives for community members at higher risk for severe cases of, or complications from, COVID-19. We have already begun to liaison with the Mount Desert Island COVID-19 Task Force, which includes emergency management officials from surrounding towns, Mount Desert Island Hospital, and others, to ensure that we are part of unified regional planning and response.

All community members should expect additional communications and requests for cooperation and collaboration as our response develops. Thank you in advance for your cooperation. As always, if you have questions about this or future communications, please be in touch .


Health alert and updates

Feb. 28, 2020

We know that many people are worried about, and tracking information on, the Novel Coronavirus 19 (COVID-19). We are closely following the development of this emerging health situation and are in communication with our local partners and public health officials, regional emergency management officials, and state agencies to make sure that we are staying up to date on the latest information as we revise our campus protocols for addressing infectious diseases as more information emerges.

It is important to note that there are no confirmed cases of COVID-19 in Maine at this time. States with confirmed cases are Massachusetts, Illinois, Wisconsin, Washington, California, and Arizona. The CDC reports that there are 15 confirmed cases in the US, and an additional 46 cases among people repatriated to the United States. While these numbers are low at this time, they are expected to grow.

Please be aware that the CDC has issued travel advisories for the following countries: China, South Korea, Italy, Iran, and Japan. We are actively examining how this evolving situation may impact our programs and services, particularly related to spring break travel and spring courses with an international component. We anticipate having additional information and initial recommendations for the community early next week, with further recommendations as circumstances change.

Importantly, the emergence of this virus can not, and should not, be an excuse for discrimination or marginalization of anyone on the basis of nationality or ethnicity. As news about the virus has become more widespread, there has been an increase in instances of xenophobia and micro-aggressions toward people of Asian descent. Let’s make sure to exercise compassion, rationality, and understanding as we move through this situation.

The CDC and the World Health Organization are the best sources of information about novel coronavirus and COVID-19. Please refer to their websites for up-to-date information.

Seasonal flu

While the community has already been presented with information about the 2019-20 flu season, we are taking this opportunity to remind people about the real risks associated with flu and about campus protocols for when you have influenza-like illness symptoms (ILI).

According to the most recent CDC data, flu activity is high and widespread in Maine. The CDC estimates that so far this season there have been at least 29 million flu illnesses, 280,000 hospitalizations and 16,000 deaths from flu. So far this season, flu vaccines are reducing doctor’s visits for flu illness by 45% overall and 55% in children.

Those at highest risk of complications resulting from flu include people who are 65 years and older, children younger than two years old, pregnant women, women up to two weeks after the end of pregnancy, Native Americans, and people who live in nursing homes and other long-term care facilities. Those with the following health conditions are also at risk for complications: asthma, neurologic conditions, blood disorders, chronic lung disease, endocrine disorders, heart disease, kidney disorders, liver disorders, metabolic disorders, people with a body mass index [BMI] of 40 or higher, people younger than 19 years of age on long-term aspirin- or salicylate-containing medications, people with a weakened immune system due to disease or medications.

Best practices to prevent the spread of flu and other viruses:

  • Stay home when sick. If you have flu-like symptoms please do not come to work or go to class until at least 24 hours after you no longer have a fever or signs of a fever (chills, feeling very warm, flushed appearance, or sweating) without the use of fever-reducing medicine. Remember not everyone with flu will have a fever. Individuals with suspected or confirmed flu, who do not have a fever, should stay home from work or class at least 4-5 days after the onset of symptoms. Persons with the flu are most contagious during the first 3 days of their illness. Faculty and supervisors are encouraged to work with students and employees to help people stay home when they are sick.
  • Use good respiratory etiquette by covering coughs and sneezes with a tissue or a bent arm.
  • Use good hand hygiene by washing hands often with soap and water for 20 seconds, drying hands with a paper towel, and using the paper towel to turn off the faucet.
  • Keep your hands away from your nose, mouth, and eyes to prevent the spread of germs.
    Routinely clean and disinfect surfaces, door handles, and other places commonly touched by people.

For more information on flu please see the following website: https://www.cdc.gov/flu/index.htm