Task force prepares for possible swine flu outbreak

Nathan Carter

The first meeting of a Missouri Southern H1N1 Swine Flu task force took place last Wednesday.

In view of the recent outbreaks of the disease in the surrounding area, several schools, colleges and universities are preparing for a possible outbreak by creating pandemic emergency plans.

Though prevention and prevention awareness are the main focus of the task force, outbreak procedures are being planned.

“From a housing prospective, I looked at Pitt State and what they’re doing,” said Josh Doak, residence director. “To be honest, we don’t have adequate space. There are so many kids we can’t put them all in one place.

“We don’t have a building full of empty space. If they’re close, let them go home. If not, keep them isolated in a room.”

The task force believes the University will lose enough students in the next few weeks to have an empty room for quarantine if necessary.

Jerry Williams, assistant vice president of lifelong learning, announced a Blackboard Webinar (a neologism meaning a web conference) about how other schools are preparing for outbreak, prevention, and faculty training. He and his staff will be viewing it Monday. Bob Yust, assistant vice president for business affairs, signed on to a separate Webinar as well about the same topic.

The student warning system, REVE, will be used to notify the campus if any outbreak occurs. The REVE system sends out text and voice mail in case of an emergency. According to Ken Kennedy, director of public safety, the system has been tested and is fully operational.

Other methods of communication will include Twitter, Facebook and Blackboard.

Most of the procedures are still up in the air and will be discussed in further meetings, but what is being done now is reminding people to practice or continue practicing good hygiene. The physical plant is having signs printed and will be posting them in the restrooms. More sanitation materials are being made available to students and teachers.