Office of the Vice President for Global Communications

Tuesday, November 24, 2009

Faculty reminded to encourage sick students to stay away from class

With another wave of the flu likely this winter, faculty members were asked Monday to keep encouraging ill students to stay away from class if they become sick with the flu.

The e-mail message from Provost Teresa Sullivan and Dr. Robert Ernst, medical director of University Health Service, comes on the heels of the news last week that a Chelsea man was the first Washtenaw County resident to die of the H1N1 flu.

“Flu activity in the Ann Arbor area has increased sharply in recent weeks and those most affected are individuals under age 24 — the typical age bracket for so many of our students,” Sullivan and Ernst wrote in the e-mail. “Rates of respiratory illness — with virtually all of it being H1N1 flu — remain at what are being called historic highs for this time of year in the region.”

So far, the impact on U-M students has been manageable, they wrote. “Even with delayed supplies of the H1N1 vaccine, most students are recovering with a few days of rest and are keeping up with their class work.”

As a reminder to faculty, the e-mail stressed three points:

• Students who become ill are asked to notify their instructors by e-mail and work with classmates who can share their notes.

• Many students who become ill should be able to care for themselves, and it is not in the best interest of the ill student to visit UHS to obtain a health excuse. A relaxation of requirements to provide ‘proof of illness’ is one way to help promote the recovery of ill students.

• If a student who obviously is ill (coughing, sneezing) comes to class, it is acceptable for faculty to suggest that the student may want to stay home until he or she feels better.

“With your help, the university community has managed this first wave of the flu quite well. We’re asking for your continued diligence as we face down what will almost certainly be another wave of illness this winter,” the message concludes.