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Annex B: Communicable Disease Prevention Response Guide

A. INTRODUCTION

This Initial Communicable Disease Prevention Response Guide is designed to promote the health and safety of college employees and students by providing information that can be used to prevent the contraction and spread of communicable diseases and the appropriate response to a communicable disease outbreak.

The Department of Police in conjunction with the Department of Human Resources and payroll, and College Communications will alert the campus community when there is a communicable disease threat-affecting member of our campus community, such as a pandemic influenza or Norovirus outbreak. The guidance is provided in Section F. “Respond” should be followed whenever a communicable disease or public health emergency is declared.

Reynolds has developed and practiced emergency response plans to assist the college community in responding to a regional or international communicable disease emergency. In the event of an emergency, Reynolds will notify the college community of the emergency, provide appropriate guidance as necessary, and take actions to protect the health and safety of students, faculty, and staff.

B. SCOPE

Communicable diseases are typically caused by bacteria, viruses, fungi, or parasites and normally spread through various forms of human contact. Examples of communicable diseases include but not limited to:

  • Ebola
  • Hepatitis A
  • Influenza
  • Measles
  • Meningococcal Meningitis
  • Mumps
  • Norovirus
  • Rubella
  • Tuberculosis
  • Other communicable diseases and viruses

C. IDENTIFY

Recognizing the signs and symptoms of a communicable disease and understanding the modes of transmission is the first step in reducing the incidence of disease associated with communicable diseases. Signs and symptoms will vary depending on the disease, but common characteristics associated at the onset of most communicable diseases typically include fever and other flu-like symptoms; achiness, upset stomach, fatigue, fever, and headaches. When traveling abroad, be aware of communicable disease threats; certain communicable diseases are endemic to certain regions of the world.

D. PLAN

It is ideal to have a plan in place within your unit or department to respond to staffing and other business issues that may arise in a communicable disease emergency or whenever employees are unable to attend work due to an illness. It’s recommended that in such instances that employees should refer to the Department of Human Resources for guidance and recommendations of the following:

  • Identify designated employees who will work during a communicable disease emergency either on site or at an alternate location (including home).
  • Identify back up staff should designated employees be unable to work; cross train staff where necessary.
  • Initiate telework agreements with those staff that may have to work from home or an alternate location. Establish virtual private networks, soft phones, or other technology related hardware and software to support telework.

Faculty and staff should familiarize themselves with health benefits available through their benefits plan. Please visit the Department of Human Resources website for more complete information: http://inside.reynolds.edu/inside_hr/Default.htm.

E. RESPOND – COMMUNICABLE DISEASE OR PUBLIC HEALTH EMERGENCY

The following procedures are to be followed whenever federal, state, or local health official declare a communicable disease emergency, such as a regional communicable disease outbreak, pandemic, or public health emergency. For all other routine, seasonal, or individual health issues, consult your health care provider. Routine, seasonal, and individual health issues DO NOT need to be reported to college officials unless advised to do so by your healthcare provider.

Employees:

Faculty or staff who are diagnosed with or believe they have a communicable disease should:

  • Seek medical attention if necessary;
  • Inform Department of Human Resources (804) 523-5249 of your condition or diagnosis and relay pertinent information provided by your health care provider;
  • Notify your supervisor;
  • Stay at home when sick and avoid close contact with others to the extent possible
  • Do not return to work until advised to do so by a health care professional or in the absence of medical consultation, do not return to work for the duration of the illness and 24-hours after symptoms abate; and
  • Record your time away from work as sick leave.
  • To limit the spread of a communicable disease, avoid traveling when sick, unless otherwise deemed appropriate by a health care professional.
  • Maintain awareness of the situation and the progression and nature of the communicable disease emergency by monitoring media outlets.
  • Faculty: Arrange alternate teaching schedules or substitute instructors to avoid cancellation of class when possible in accordance with your department’s policy. Please see Policy 4-34 - College Emergency Preparedness and Communication 

Supervisors:

Supervisors and faculty who become aware of an employee or student under their supervision who exhibits communicable disease symptoms or is diagnosed with a communicable disease must not release the Individual’s name, identifying information, or condition of other individuals (HIPAA). All employee health care concerns must be forwarded to the Department of Human Resources (804) 523-5249. Supervisors and employees can contact the Department of Human Resources with any questions or concerns they may have regarding workplace issues surrounding communicable disease.

Please note: In the event that the Commonwealth declares a communicable disease or public health threat or public health emergency, the Public Health Emergency Leave Policy may be partially or fully implemented. Please contact the Department of Human Resources for more information.

Students:

A student who is diagnosed with or believes he/she has a communicable disease should:

  • Seek medical attention;
  • Stay at home when sick and avoid close contact with others to the extent possible.
  • Not return to class or work until advised to do so by a health care professional or for the duration of the illness and 24-hours after symptoms abate.
  • Notify your professors, instructors, supervisor, and family as necessary.
  • Avoid traveling when sick, unless otherwise deemed appropriate by a health care profession to limit the spread of a communicable disease.
  • Use antibiotics and antivirals appropriately and exactly as prescribed – do not self-medicate or share medications with others.
  • Maintain awareness of the situation and the progression and nature of the communicable disease emergency by monitoring media outlets.

Returning to Work/School:

Prior to returning to work or school, students, faculty, and employees should take precautions to prevent spreading a communicable disease:

  • By ensuring that symptoms have passed,
  • Remain at home if contagious,
  • In addition, consult a health care professional for guidance or clearance to return to work or school prior to returning to the college if necessary.

During a college-wide communicable disease outbreak, a written statement indicating that students, faculty, or employees may return to work or school from an attending physician or primary care provider may be required before returning to the college.

Confidentiality:

All student, faculty, and employee medical information is treated as private and confidential and will be handled in compliance with legal requirements and professional ethical standards.

The college will implement and maintain procedural safeguards to protect the privacy interests of persons in the campus community who have a communicable disease in accordance with the Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act (HIPAA) and all federal, state, and local regulations.

The college will not disclose the identity of any employee or student who has a communicable disease, except as authorized or required by law, as may be necessary, on a “need-to-know” basis and as is consistent with legal and ethical standards. Accordingly, there shall be strict adherence to this basic principle: prior consent of the patient is required before information is released or disclosed or made available for review except where a specific law or regulation or the internal administrative need of the college requires or permits such access without employee or student consent.

F. Resources

College Policy:

Academic Plan for the Continuity of Instruction in the Event of a Pandemic

For additional information about a specific communicable disease including symptoms, prevention, treatment, and communicable disease outbreak, please visit the following websites:

United States Department of Health and Human Services: http://www.hhs.gov

Virginia Department of Health: http://www.vdh.state.va.us

Your personal health care provider(s) or physician

Additional resources to help prevent, identify, and/or respond to communicable diseases, outbreak, travel alerts and advisories, or pandemic disease emergencies can be found at the following websites:

Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) - http://cdc.gov/DiseasesConditions

CDC Traveler’s Health webpage: https://wwwnc.cdc.gov/travel

World Health Organization (WHO) - http://www.who.int/topics/en/

WHO Travel and Health webpage: http://www.who.int/ith/en/index.html

U.S. Pandemic Flu Website - http://www.pandemicflu.gov

U.S. State Department Travel Alerts webpage: https://travel.state.gov/content/travel/en/traveladvisories/traveladvisories.html/