Emergency Guidelines for the Campus Community

H1N1 Influenza

September 16, 2009 E-Mail to Faculty and Staff

To: Princeton University faculty and staff
From: University Health Services and Environmental Health and Safety

Re: Important Guidance for Flu and Flu-like Illness

Date: Sept. 16, 2009

As the new academic year begins, we want to ensure that University employees are aware of the updated guidance for handling influenza, including the novel H1N1 (swine) flu virus that has sickened people worldwide. We are encouraging faculty and staff to work with us in taking a range of steps to prevent the spread of flu at the University as much as possible. There are many members of our campus community who may be at higher risk from complications from flu, so we need your help to keep you and your co-workers from getting sick.

It is essential that faculty and staff take precautions to stay healthy and know what to do should they become ill with flu or flu-like illness. Please take a moment to read the following guidelines.

Get a seasonal flu shot. Prevent the spread of seasonal influenza by getting vaccinated at the University's annual Flu Fest clinic on Sept. 23-24 and Oct. 12, 2009, in Frist Campus Center. Flu vaccinations are free for all faculty and staff, and are available to dependents over 12 for $23 for a shot and $30 for a nasal spray vaccine. (This clinic will provide vaccines for traditional seasonal flu only; more information about a vaccine for the H1N1 flu virus will be provided as it becomes available).

Know the symptoms of the flu. The symptoms of H1N1 flu and seasonal flu are similar and include fever with cough and/or sore throat. Some people with flu have also reported body aches, headache, chills, fatigue, diarrhea and vomiting.

Leave the workplace or stay at home if you develop flu-like symptoms in order to prevent the spread of illness to others. Because state health officials are not recommending lab tests to determine whether an ill person has H1N1 flu, all employees with flu-like symptoms will be expected to leave the workplace and follow the guidance to prevent the spread of flu.

Call your personal physician if you develop flu-like symptoms. Employees who do not have a personal physician and who would like a list of physicians in the Princeton area should call Employee Health Services at (609) 258-5035 between 8 a.m. and 4 p.m. Monday through Friday.

Self-isolate (i.e. stay home from work and take care to avoid contact with others) until you are no longer contagious. The guideline is to self-isolate during your illness and for at least 24 hours after your fever is gone, except to get medical care (fever should be gone without the use of a fever-reducing medicine).

Notify your supervisor to determine how your absence due to flu may fall under Human Resources and/or Dean of the Faculty employee absence policies. HR's sporadic absence policy, which applies to regular, non-faculty, benefits-eligible staff, may be used to cover an HR staff member's personal illness or for the care of an immediate family member who is ill. Unionized employees should refer to their collective bargaining agreements. If HR employees do not have sufficient sporadic absence time, they can use accrued vacation, optional holiday or compelling reason time, or take unpaid leave. As a temporary change to the sporadic absence policy, from Sept. 1, 2009 to March 31, 2010, HR staff members who have exhausted their sporadic absence allocation for FY10 can borrow up to eight sporadic absence days from their FY11 sporadic absence day allocation. The specific provisions governing use of borrowed sporadic absence time appear at: http://www.princeton.edu/hr/progserv/er/policyguid/fluguidancesupervisors.pdf.

Inform close contacts of your illness. Someone with whom you've had close contact may be at serious risk for complications from flu, and it is your responsibility to inform others of your illness.  

Consult with your personal physician before returning to work to determine when you are no longer contagious. A doctor's note is not required to return to work, except if an employee has been on short-term disability.

In general, practice good hygiene by washing your hands with soap and water, especially after coughing or sneezing. Alcohol-based hand cleaners also are effective. Cover your mouth and nose with a tissue when coughing or sneezing.

More detailed guidance about flu in the workplace and HR policies -- including frequently asked questions about absence policies, handling ill co-workers and disclosure of medical information -- is available on the HR website at: http://www.princeton.edu/hr/progserv/er/policyguid/h1n1workguid.pdf.
Further information about influenza for the entire campus community is available on the University's H1N1 flu web page at: http://web.princeton.edu/sites/emergency/swineflu. Supervisors are encouraged to print copies of the "Flu Flier for Employees" from the H1N1 web page and post them around your office as a reminder to employees about ways to prevent sickness.

The University continues to work closely with local and state health departments to monitor flu conditions, and we will keep you updated with new information via the H1N1 Web page and other campus communications as it becomes available. If you have specific questions about your office, please talk with your supervisor.

Back to H1N1 Influenza page

Last update: 12-Oct-2009 12:14 PM
Web page comments or errors: Robin Izzo.