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Swine Oh Nine Update: PSU Pandemic Plans

So recently, we talked about how faculty can stay on syllabus while having swine flu. Today, we’ll discuss the University’s assumptions and plans about the dreaded Flu.

First off, let’s start with a Penn State Pandemic Mission Statement, of sorts.

At Penn State, the planning for pandemic influenza occurs within the context of University­wide emergency planning and preparedness. Each administrative unit and academic department will respond to an infectious disease pandemic initially as they would to any emergency – with a concern for protection of human life and safety first and then for continuity of University operations, including continuity of instruction, research and graduate education. To the extent possible, the response should be guided by carefully planned procedures and protocols, recognizing that any emergency will also demand flexibility and agility in a rapidly evolving situation.


Penn State acknowledges that a pandemic would have many waves, and that the first would probably occur during fall or spring semester. They note the following:

Faculty and staff absenteeism will be in the range of 40%, increasing quickly if local K­12 schools and businesses begin to close.  When the University cancels classes and advises the students to return “home,” there will be approximately 5,800 who will remain in University Park because of travel restrictions or because they do not have a suitable alternative living option.

40% of faculty out!?!? They better take advantage of these tools to keep their classes on schedule.

The plan notes that most, if not all, of their quarantine actions will rely on the voluntary effort of students and faculty. And, get this, if worst comes to worst, Penn State will suspend classes for 4-8 weeks.

The plan emphasizes that common sense flu prevention measures like the ones here can help mitigate some of the more horrific flu scenarios.

Just to get an idea of what the University is thinking, in terms of the number of those infected, below is a Projection of Avian Influenza Impact. While the current flu is not Avian, this graph should act as an example of what the University has planned for:


I would take these numbers with a serious grain of salt, but still, the possibility is out there, I suppose, of mass illness and fatalities.

For those interested, there is a text copy of the Pandemic Plan here that contains information about what specific staff members are to do in the event of four separate levels of pandemic.

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About the Author

Eli Glazier

Eli is a junior majoring in International Politics. He enjoys paninis and books.

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