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Flu Outbreak and Preparing for Return to Campus

Posted January 13, 2018 at 5:44 p.m.

As you are likely all too aware, the flu bug is on a rampage just about everywhere.  The Alabama Department of Public Health (ADPH) and Jefferson County Department of Public Health (JCDPH) are reporting widespread outbreaks of the flu.  Nationwide, 46 of 50 states are experiencing widespread flu outbreaks.  Generally, groups at highest risk are children, individuals 65 and older, and those with pre-existing medical conditions such as lung, heart, and immune system diseases.  However, this particular strain appears to be having a higher-than-average impact on 18-24 year olds – which is the age group of most of you.  

Some of you in graduate and JanTerm classes are already back on campus.  Others of you will be returning next weekend, January 20-21 with classes beginning on Monday, January 22.  To date, our incidence of flu on campus has not been severe. HOWEVER, with thousands among the Samford community returning soon, we want to be as prepared as possible. 

The flu is spread by droplets when someone coughs, sneezes or even talks and is often transferred on surfaces such as desks, keyboards, phones, door knobs, stair railings, etc.  People are contagious for 24 hours before they show signs or symptoms of flu.  There are some simple but effective things we can all do to help protect ourselves and others.  These include:

  • Get a flu shot – limited effectiveness but could help – available in your home town, the University Health Clinic and many places in Birmingham.
  • Wash your hands often – put some Purell or similar hand-sanitizer in your backpack.
  • Avoid touching your eyes, nose or mouth.
  • Practice good cough and sneeze hygiene (cough or sneeze into your elbow).
  • STAY AWAY from people you know have the flu.
  • If you think you have the flu STAY AWAY from others and campus, and contact your healthcare provider.
  • Be aware in large gatherings
  • Disinfect surfaces often with a cleanser that kills the flu virus  (you may want to bring additional cleansers from home).

For additional up to date information you can click the following links to the Center for Disease Control (CDC) or Jefferson County Department of Public Health:

http://www.jcdh.org/programs/disease-control/seasonal-flu-update/
https://www.cdc.gov/flu/about/season/current.htm

Our Emergency Readiness Team has met to discuss implementation of Samford’s infectious disease/flu protocols.  In addition to precautions we can take as individuals, the following, among other things, are in place:

  • Filling hand sanitizer stations across campus.
  • Increased wipe-down frequency of door knobs, handrails and high-touch surfaces.
  • Asking those with flu-like symptoms to stay away from campus – students and employees.
  • Continuous monitoring, communication and protective measures as appropriate.

At present and with the measures noted above, normal campus operations and classes continue.  The Emergency Readiness Team will continue to meet and monitor the situation, and communicate accordingly.  You can expect further communications over the coming days regarding additional actions we can all take to help mitigate the situation.  So, watch for further information and instructions.

We look forward to the new semester and seeing you.

Emergency Plan

The safety and well-being of our students is one of our highest priorities at Samford University. While we hope that our emergency plans will not have to be put into action, Samford has a comprehensive emergency plan in place to deal with any crisis that may occur on campus.

In the event of severe weather or other emergency situations on campus, Samford will communicate with students, faculty and staff via multiple methods, including:

  • RAVE Alerts, which can simultaneously deploy text messages, emails and phone calls to your cell phone, office phone and home phone
  • Emails sent campus-wide
  • The Samford University homepage
  • Digital signage across campus
  • Social media, including Facebook and Twitter