Kaine announces flu action plan as higher ed plans ahead

By Sunni Blevins - bio | email
Posted by Phil Riggan - email

RICHMOND, VA (WWBT) - Virginia governor Tim Kaine met with state health officials this morning following eight probable swine flu cases at local colleges.

Anytime people are in close quarters, the possibility of sickness spreading quickly is high. On college campuses, that could happen in dorms, cafeterias or classrooms.

That's why education officials must be pro-active.  With probable cases of swine flu already present on local campuses, colleges and universities are on high alert.

While no cases of swine flu have popped up yet at any community colleges in Virginia, school leaders know the real possiblity and are educating students, faculty and staff.

"We do understand that there may be a case of swine flu on our campuses and we are confident that everyone will have enough information about how to prepare and how to protect themselves for that eventuality," said Mary Savage of the VCCS.

Savage says one challenge for them is that so many people commute to community college from home, where others could be sick.

A spokesperson for Randolph-Macon in Ashland says they have the opposite problem.

The school has adopted a "when, not if, it happens" policy since almost 98 percent of students live on campus.

College officials have been educating students on all issues related to swine flu during orientation.

That is good news according to VCU health expert Richard Wenzel. He traveled to Mexico City in late April at the height of the epidemic.

He's says with a new virus like this, college and university officials are right to be pro-active. He has some advice for schools to keep flu from spreading.

"I think what schools can do is make hand-washing facilities readily available every 10 or 15 feet if possible in communal places, near elevators, in front of every room to make it easier to wash hands," Wenzel said.

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