Information for Parents

The New School provides answers for parents to frequently asked questions about H1N1 and seasonal flu and how they can help their children stay healthy or recuperate if they should get ill. Information is included about students returning home to recover and what to do if students miss class.

The H1N1 virus is a new influenza virus causing illness in people. This new virus was first detected in people in the United States in April 2009. Advise your child to use good judgment and to take precautions against getting the virus. Here are four important ways your child can stay healthy and keep from getting sick with flu or spreading the flu:

  • Practice good hand hygiene. They should wash their hands often with soap and water, especially after coughing or sneezing. Alcohol-based hand cleaners are also effective.
  • Practice respiratory etiquette. The main way flu spreads is from person to person in droplets produced by coughs and sneezes, so it's important that people cover their mouth and nose with a tissue when they cough or sneeze. If they don't have a tissue, they should cough or sneeze into their elbow or shoulder, not their hands.
  • Stay home if they are sick. Stay home or in their place of residence for at least 24 hours after they no longer have a fever.
  • Talk to their health care providers about whether they should be vaccinated. Students who want protection from the flu can be encouraged to get vaccinated for seasonal flu. Also students who are at higher risk for flu complications from 2009 H1N1 flu, should consider getting the H1N1 vaccine when it becomes available. People at higher risk for 2009 H1N1 flu complications include pregnant women and people with chronic medical conditions (such as asthma, heart disease, or diabetes).

    For more information about priority groups for vaccination, visit the Center for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) H1N1 flu vaccination website.

To help your child determine if he or she has contracted the flu, Student Health Services has provided a flyer to explain the symptoms and ailments that most commonly accompany the flu virus.

If possible, residential students with flu-like illness whose families live relatively close to the campus should go home to home-isolate. They should return home in a way that limits contact with others as much as possible. For example, travel by private car or taxi would be preferable over use of public transportation. They should stay away from other people at least 24 hours after they no longer have a fever (100 degrees Fahrenheit or 38 degrees Celsius) or signs of a fever (have chills, feel very warm, have a flushed appearance, or are sweating). This should be determined without the use of fever-reducing medications. If flu severity increases, students at higher risk for flu complications—including those with certain chronic medical conditions like heart disease, diabetes, or asthma, or who are pregnant—may consider staying home while flu transmission is high in their institution community.

Currently, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention is not recommending removing healthy students from their institutions.

If a student is unable to attend class because of illness, the student must contact their student advising office and instructors using their New School email address. Students should inform the instructor that he or she is unable to attend class and give an indication of how much class time they expect to miss. Faculty have been asked to be flexible with attendance requirements so that students who report flu-like symptoms will not be penalized if they notify their instructors.

If your child is sick but cannot come home, he/she can receive medical attention by contacting Student Health Services. Students living in residence halls should inform their RAs who will coordinate meal and medication delivery while your child is recovering.

This is a highly contagious, though relatively less severe illness than was first believed. We believe the number of sick students will exceed our capacity to provide them with special areas where they can self-isolate to recover. Therefore, students are likely to be self-isolating in their own rooms. The well roommate will be encouraged to stay in another location with friends or family if that is an option.

It is likely that healthy students may have to live for a period of time with their sick roommates. In those cases, the best approach is for all roommates to continue to wash their hands at every opportunity. The ill student should wear a mask and maintain a safe distance from others. Added precautions include frequently wiping surfaces such as doorknobs, light switches, counters, desk tops, TV remotes, microwave or refrigerator handles, and computer keyboards with a disinfecting wipe. They also may want to keep a can of disinfectant spray, such as Lysol, nearby. The ill student should cover their coughs and sneezes, dispose properly of used tissues, wear a mask, avoid crowds, get plenty of fluids, and try to rest. Students should talk to their health care providers about being vaccinated for both seasonal flu and H1N1, when that vaccination becomes available. People at higher risk for H1N1 flu complications include those with chronic medical conditions (such as asthma, heart disease, or diabetes) should do the same.

Parents should make sure their child knows if he or she is at higher risk for flu complications. People at higher risk for flu complications including those with certain chronic medical conditions (such as asthma, heart disease, or diabetes) who become sick with flu-like illness should call Student Health Services or their health care provider as soon as possible to determine if they need antiviral treatment. Early treatment with antiviral medicines often can prevent hospitalizations and deaths. Parents should encourage sick students who are at higher risk for flu complications to seek early treatment. Antiviral medicines are not given to all people during flu season because most people get better on their own. Over-use can promote antiviral-resistant viruses, and use of antiviral medicines can cause adverse reactions in some people.

Students diagnosed with flu or flu-like illness should take the following steps to take care of themselves and prevent the spread of illness to others:

Follow Home Isolation Instructions. Students should self-isolate in their dorm room (i.e. stay away from others and eat meals in their room) for 24 hours of no fever without the use of fever reducing medication.

Notify:

  • All residence hall students should notify their RAs that they are beginning self-isolation and discuss whether they need assistance residential/dining or medication delivery matters until recovered.residential/dining matters.

Avoid contact:

  • Avoid contact with others by eating meals in your room. Ill students will not be permitted in the dining halls. Ask a friend to pick up meals from your dining hall, and leave the food outside your door.
  • Do not attend class, meetings, or other events: Notify your professors if you will be absent from class due to flu or flu-like illness.
  • Discourage all visitors. If you have a roommate, try to stay at least six feet away from them and clean surfaces frequently to prevent the spread of germs.
  • Wear a surgical mask if someone enters your room or you have to leave your room (i.e. to use the bathroom) in order to prevent the spread of germs. Your RA or RHD will provide you with a mask.

Take care of yourself:

  • Cover your mouth and nose with a tissue or your elbow when you cough or sneeze to prevent the spread of germs. Wash your hands frequently with soap and water, or use an alcohol-based hand gel.
  • Get plenty of rest and drink lots of fluids