Get Ready For Swine ’09!
If you were anywhere near a public place this last spring, you probably were caught up in the swine flu mania. Maybe you washed your hands obsessively or carried hand-sanitizer around with you everywhere. Perhaps you even bought a surgical mask and pulled a Speidi. Regardless of your reaction to the swine flu, by this time you’ve most likely pulled back a bit on the safety measures.
Well, hold your horses and get an economy-sized bottle of Purell, because the worst is yet to come.
Even now we’re seeing summer camps hit hard by the H1N1 virus, purely from the amount of kids grouped together in one place. Hmm, where else could massive amounts of people be stuck in small spaces together for extended periods of time? Oh right – every university in the country. What does this mean for the fall semester? Will incoming freshman be supplied with surgical masks as a part of their orientation kit?
The summer camps have dealt quite admirably with what otherwise would be a huge inconvenience and danger to their campers. Most camps set up “quarantines” for those who were afflicted with the flu virus. Sick campers were kept in special cabins and cordoned-off outside areas for seven days after their first symptoms. Sure, that works well for a summer camp.=, but what about universities?
So many questions remain unanswered and will probably stay that way until there is an appropriate reaction established well into the fall semester. Yet, as an undergraduate headed back to the dorms in the fall, I’m wondering about a few things (wondering = worrying). Will certain dorms be “swine dorms?” Will classes have to be sectioned off to protect the healthy students from their infectious classmates? What if your roommate gets the virus?
To prepare for what the medical community believes will be an outbreak even bigger than the one we had this spring, swine flu vaccinations are being perfected and distributed throughout the country. Tamiflu has been used as a prophylactic in summer camps this year, but health officials don’t recommend using it on a long-term basis due to resistances that could build up in the virus. So where does that leave college students? Certainly, it’s much more difficult to close an entire university, as compared to the elementary, junior high, and high school closings we saw this spring. Unless we see more than 50% of the teaching staff fall ill, I don’t think we’ll see any universities close. However, I wouldn’t be surprised by more than a few campus quarantines.
In another couple of weeks, I’ll be starting to pack my life up for the umpteenth time in my college career to schlep it back on campus. This year, however, I might forgo a few pairs of shoes to save space for the jumbo bottle of hand-sanitizer and Clorox wipes I’ll be bringing with me. Who knows? I might even rock out in a designer surgical mask and start a trend.
What do you think will happen to universities in the fall once the H1N1 virus hits again? How will you prepare differently for college this semester?