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President Buchanan Explains Pandemic Absence Policy

December 7, 2009 — TO: UW Faculty and Staff

FROM: Thomas Buchanan

RE: H1N1 Virus and Employee Absences

We're nearing the end of the fall semester, and I am pleased to say the University of Wyoming is coping well with the H1N1 virus.

As you may have read, UW has H1N1 vaccine available for faculty and staff at Student Health Service. I encourage you to get vaccinated. Although the flu appears to be receding at UW and across the country, we don't know whether it will rebound in a more serious form next year.

There's no question that an illness of this kind interrupts classes, work, and lives. As a matter of policy, UW is following the recommendations of the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention for higher education institutions. A link to the CDC Web site, along with a list of other links, can be found at

If students are sick, I urge them to stay away from classes to slow the spread of the flu. I have not required Student Health Service to issue notes for students. We don't want students who are sick to make others sick. However, I do expect them to stay in contact with their professors to make up the work they miss.

If employees are sick, either faculty or staff, I also urge them to stay home. Supporting that, there are two key policy changes you should be aware of.

If UW reaches a limited pandemic or a full pandemic status, which will be announced, UW will allow employees to take unplanned absences without a physician's note. Employees must first use sick leave or vacation time. If all leave has been exhausted, they may borrow sick or vacation leave accrued in the current month. Once that option has been exhausted and in extreme circumstances, they may apply to their supervisors for leave with pay. A copy of the pandemic absence policy is attached.

Under normal circumstances, new faculty and administrative officers cannot use accrued vacation until they complete six months of service or sick leave until they complete one month of service. In November, the Board of Trustees approved a change in University Regulation 5-173. Now, I have the authority to suspend those restrictions in the event of a health or safety emergency, which includes a declared limited pandemic or full pandemic status.

We hope we won't see a more serious version of the H1N1 flu next year. But if we do, we want to be as prepared as we can.

Best wishes for a restful winter break. Stay well.


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