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H1N1 and U Residence Halls

August 28, 2009

Dear parents of residence hall students,

Fall marks the beginning of the academic year and, unfortunately, the beginning of the flu season. This year will be unusual in that we will experience not only the expected seasonal influenza but also the 2009 H1N1 influenza.

College age students are at a higher risk for contracting H1N1. The virus is highly transmissible, and therefore students living in close contact in on-campus residence halls/apartments are more likely to be exposed to and potentially contract H1N1.

If your student becomes ill with a fever and influenza symptoms, it is very likely that he or she has contracted H1N1.

Below are steps you can take to help your student prepare for the 2009 H1N1 flu.

First, please be sure your student brings to campus a flu care kit with the following items:

  • Tissues
  • Hand sanitizers
  • Disinfecting wipes (to clean surfaces)
  • Thermometer
  • Fever reducing medication such as ibuprofen and acetaminophen
  • Bottled water and other nourishing fluids

Second, talk with your student now about what to do in case of flu. Make an illness plan, emphasizing ways to prevent the illness and what to do if your student becomes ill. An excellent guide for making an illness plan can be found at

Students who become ill and can return home to recover are advised to do so. They should not, however, use public transportation (buses, trains, or airplanes) to go home. Those who stay on campus are expected to avoid going to class or to campus events until 24 hours after their fever subsides. They should stay in their room and rest. In most cases, the flu is expected to be mild, and with self-care they will recover in a five to seven days. Students will be receiving further information about what to do if they need to miss class, or are student employees and need to miss work due to illness.

Students with underlying medical concerns such as diabetes, asthma, sickle-cell disease, cardiovascular disease, a compromised immune system, or a pregnancy should establish a care plan with their medical provider now, before they get sick. During times of a peak outbreak within a residence hall, it may be prudent for higher risk students to live at home even if they are not ill, as part of their overall plan to reduce exposure to the H1N1 virus.

This week, all students, faculty, and staff received a message about H1N1 from the University explaining recommended prevention and treatment measures. Additional information will be sent to students throughout the flu season, and the University has an H1N1 Web site. We encourage you to visit this site often, as information will be updated regularly.

Thank you for your assistance and support of your student during this unusual flu season.


Laurie McLaughlin
Director, Housing and Residential Life

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University of Minnesota Pandemic Influenza Response Plan (332 K pdf)