H1N1 Academic Continuity Plan
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) are anticipating outbreaks of the H1N1 virus (a.k.a., Swine Flu) throughout the United States, with college campuses expected to be particularly impacted. As a result, schools and colleges have been encouraged by their accrediting and other oversight organizations to be proactive in establishing a plan for academic continuity during a severe outbreak.
The University of Washington School of Law will comply with all CDC guidelines to respond to the pandemic, including all specific recommendations for institutions of higher education. Because we are committed not only to safeguarding the health and welfare of our faculty, students, and staff, but also to fulfilling our educational mission and commitments, we have developed an academic continuity plan in preparation for an outbreak. The CDC is not currently recommending that institutions cancel classes; therefore, this plan establishes the means necessary to keep our classes running in the event that H1N1 severely hits the campus.
We are basing our response on the current CDC recommendation that people infected with the H1N1 virus remain at home for at least 24 hours after they are free of fever or signs of fever without the use of fever-reducing medications, which would normally result in a period of absence of 3 to 5 days. However, the policy also anticipates the possibility of a more severe outbreak that results in long-term absences of students, faculty, and staff.
Steps All Faculty, Staff, and Students Should Take
As a community, we all need to work together to protect ourselves and one another from the risk of contracting the H1N1 virus or other strains of the flu.
Flu viruses are spread mainly from person to person through coughing or sneezing by people infected with the virus. Sometimes people may become infected by touching something (such as a book, a desk, or a doorknob) with the flu virus on it and then touching her mouth or nose; indeed, the virus can last on an object or surface for as long as 8 hours after being touched by an infected person.
Accordingly, to minimize the risk of transmission, we ask all faculty, staff, and students to take the following preventative measures:
- Cover your nose and mouth when you cough or sneeze. Preferably, use a tissue and then throw the tissue in the trash after you use it. If you do not have a tissue, cover your cough or sneeze with your shirt sleeve or, as a last resort, with your hand.
- Wash your hands often with soap and hot water (preferable) or an alcohol-based hand sanitizer, especially after you cough or sneeze or handle an object (such as a doorknob). Consider using a napkin or paper towel when opening and closing doors.
- Avoid touching your eyes, nose or mouth. If you must do so, wash your hands with soap and water or an alcohol-based hand sanitizer first.
- If you are sick with the flu or flu-like symptoms, stay at home and seek medical attention as needed. Flu symptoms include an illness of sudden onset with a high fever (generally over 100.4 degrees F), sore throat and a cough. People with flu often may have a headache, runny nose, fatigue, body aches, and sometimes diarrhea and vomiting.
Do not come to work or to class if you have flu-like symptoms out of a concern that you cannot afford to miss work or class; it will only result in a greater number of students, faculty, and staff contracting the illness. Faculty can make up missed classes, students are entitled to miss a certain percentage of classes each quarter, and staff can take sick leave as needed. If you feel flu-like symptoms but you feel that you are capable of working, you should contact your supervisor and set up a way to work from home until you feel better.
Individual Faculty Preparedness Plans
To prepare for the possibility of an H1N1 outbreak that might incapacitate you or your students for a period of time, we ask that each faculty member do the following:
- Provide your faculty secretary with information on how your syllabus and lecture notes can be accessed in the event that you are incapacitated for a period of time and it becomes necessary to ask someone to substitute teach your class. In turn, your faculty secretary will put this information in a central database that can be accessed by other support staff and the Deans' Office in the event that your faculty secretary is also incapacitated.
- Identify members of the faculty who are in a good position to substitute teach your classes and communicate that information to your faculty secretary. In turn, your faculty secretary will put this information in a central database that can be accessed by other support staff and the Deans' Office in the event that your faculty secretary is also incapacitated.
- Make sure that you know how to quickly communicate with your students electronically through your course listserv (these can be created automatically on myuw.com, but can also be created by Academic Services).
- Create alternative assignments that can be completed outside of class and submitted electronically in the event that you or your students are unable to attend class in person, and have your faculty secretary set up a system for collecting such assignments (such as via Collect It).
- Set up a protocol for having your lectures podcast, indicating to classroom support the circumstances under which you will permit your classes to be podcast for absent students and the method of delivery.
- If you feel flu symptoms, stay at home, seek medical attention as needed, and notify your faculty secretary and the Associate Dean for Academic Administration ( or 206-685-2459). Flu symptoms include an illness of sudden onset with a high fever (generally over 100.4 degrees F), sore throat and a cough. People with flu often may have a headache, runny nose, fatigue, body aches, and sometimes diarrhea and vomiting.
- Notify your students electronically that class is cancelled, and instruct them to complete alternative assignments for the first or second missed class.
- Contact potential substitute faculty and ask them to be on standby to substitute teach for you in the event that you miss more than two class sessions.
- Follow CDC recommendations and take good care of yourself to avoid serious flu complications.
- Remain in contact with your faculty secretary and the Associate Dean for Academic Administration regarding your health and your plans to return to class.
- If a student indicates to you that they have flu or flu symptoms, encourage them to stay at home and seek medical attention as needed.
- If students express concern about the attendance policy, remind students that the policy permits students to miss up to 20 percent of classes. To the extent that you have a stricter policy, make accommodations for these particular absences.
- Explain to students that they may complete the assignments electronically to make up for class absences.
- If you do not normally podcast your lectures, consider podcasting lectures under limited circumstances, such as by having them delivered only to ill students instead of being posted and generally available.
Longer-Term Faculty Illnesses
In the event that a faculty member is expected to be absent for an extended period of time, the Associate Dean for Academic Administration will work with that faculty member to secure a substitute teacher or teachers. In the event that a substitute cannot be found, the Associate Dean for Academic Administration shall:
- Devise a system for providing students enrolled in the course with pro-rated credit for the course that is commensurate with the work that they have completed to date; and
- Shall work with the impacted students to find a way for them to earn the credit they otherwise would have earned for the remainder of the quarter, including by having them enroll in other courses already in progress and working with those faculty members to find a suitable way to assess the students' performance in those courses.
Longer-Term Student Illnesses
In the event that a student is expected to be absent for an extended period of time, the Associate Dean for Academic Administration will work with the student and their faculty members to develop a plan for them to earn partial or full credit for their courses, such as through watching podcasts of lectures, completing assignments electronically, and taking exams offsite. Such students should seek medical attention and submit documentation of their illness and its expected duration to Academic Services.
Plan for Temporary Closure of the Law School
In the event that the law school is required to temporarily suspend operations as a result of an outbreak, faculty, staff, and students should be prepared for the possibility that the lost class time will have to be made-up during unconventional days and times in order to ensure compliance with ABA standards regarding minimum student contact hours. Accordingly, in the event of a temporary closure of the law school, faculty, staff, and students should prepare for the possibility of make-up classes being scheduled on weekends and evenings and during scheduled school breaks.
Partial Suspension of Academic Policies
In order to implement any of the above, the Associate Dean for Academic Administration shall have the authority to temporarily suspend the following policies as needed:
- The School of Law's Attendance Policy;
- The Location Where Exams Taken Policy;
In addition, the Associate Dean for Academic Administration shall have the authority, in consultation with the relevant faculty members:
- To alter the number of credits for a particular course if it is terminated early;
- To change the method of grading from a letter grade to credit/no credit.