2009 H1N1 (Swine Flu) Information for BPSS- Regulated Institutions
This Q & A sheet is in addition to information issued by NYSED at
The possible flu pandemic presents schools with challenges. Many of these are not different from the situation arising from a sudden illness or catastrophe affecting a particular school or agent/teacher/director. Others are specific to a pandemic. These Questions and Answers will assist BPSS-regulated schools in handling the situation. It is recommended that you consult our website regularly for updates.
Q: Some of my students seem sick with the flu. Should I insist that
they stay home?
A: Yes. Because of the pandemic, you should be more flexible than usual concerning missed classes and leaves of absence. Make clear, however, that any missed work still will have to be made up after the student has recovered. Contact your field associate for further direction.
Q: If my regular staff is sick, can I use unlicensed agents/teachers/directors,
or combine unrelated classes, and/or shorten the curriculum in
order to cope?
A: Our statute does not allow the use of unlicensed personnel, even in an emergency. Schools should plan ahead and have enough agents and teachers licensed for such cases. Directors should declare which senior staff would be the acting director during a brief illness. Ideally, having a licensed secondary director would be preferable. Combining unrelated classes may not occur, even if there is a decrease in student population or teacher illness. The approved curriculum may not be altered. You should contact your field associate or the respective BPSS staff (licensing, curriculum, etc.) to inquire what accommodations may be allowed. BPSS staff will be working together to address issues as they arise.
Q: A number of my students are sick with the flu. Do I close my school?
A: Contact your county health department, explain the situation, and ask for guidance. The decision to close a school rests with the school director. However, the Governor under Executive Order has the authority to require institutions to close as a result of a pandemic flu. Local county emergency management coordinators, in conjunction with the Department of Health, can also recommend closures. Postsecondary institutions would operate at their own risk of liability if they choose to remain open during a declared emergency.
Q: What do I do if a “client” appears they may be infected? May I turn
them away or allow students to refrain from performing a service
or caring for their health needs?
A: The important thing to remember is that everyone has to protect his or her own health. If the client appears ill, it should be recommended that he or she return at another time. In the case of a health-related externship, the student should speak with his/her supervisor and others for the appropriate course of action. At no time should a student be forced to care for or work on a client if the student is in danger of becoming infected.
Q: I had to close my school because of the flu. Do I have to refund
A: If the Governor has not issued a state of emergency ordering school closures, then each case will be handled on a case-by-case basis by BPSS. Notify your field associate at once. If the school closure was necessary because of the flu, BPSS may allow a delay in resuming instruction. However, schools should also be prepared to issue refunds should the closure be prolonged. Ordinarily if a school closes for a length of time which jeopardizes the contractual agreement between the school and the student, refunds are in order. The Bureau will make the determination if there has been a cessation of instruction which would call for refunds.
Q: Will receiving a BPSS variance also change conditions set for being
eligible to receive state and federal financial aid?
A: No, it won’t. BPSS can only give variances for matters regulated by Bureau of Proprietary School Supervision under the laws of New York State. This does not affect conditions set by the federal government or other agencies. You should contact them about any possible impact.
Q: What resources are available to obtain the latest information during
an on-going pandemic event?
A: Since April 22, 2009, the New York State Department of Health has been actively engaged in monitoring the H1N1 flu situation after the initial cases were identified in Mexico. Clinical guidance has been developed and is being actively updated. The following resources are available and are being updated daily.
- For the global picture on the evolving swine flu situation:
- For the national picture on the evolving swine flu situation:
- For the state picture on the evolving swine flu situation:
- For questions from the general public:
- NYC residents please call 311
- For Education Department-related questions:
- Phone number to follow
Q: Should postsecondary institutions modify their emergency plans to
reflect pandemic flu planning? If an institution does not have
an emergency plan, are there resources available to develop one?
A: Many schools have multi-hazard emergency plans covering any natural, technological, and human-made hazards which may potentially impact the institution. If the plan does not yet include pandemic planning, it should be integrated into the existing emergency plan. It is important that this planning process include a description of preparations for obtaining assistance during the emergency from emergency service organizations, local government, and county agencies. In addition to the resource links provided above, the Pandemic Influenza Preparedness Packet for Colleges and Universities, which also provides helpful guidelines for adult vocational schools, is available on the State Department of Health’s website at: http://www.health.state.ny.us/diseases/communicable/influenza/pandemic/docs/pandemic_influenza_college_toolkit.pdf Additionally, emergency management planning information is available at the U.S. Department of Homeland Security website at http://www.dhs.gov/index.shtm
Q: Is there a possibility that county or state health officials will ask
schools to open their facilities during a pandemic for sheltering
and/or inoculation sites?
A: A key protective action in a pandemic is social distancing. This means that a concerted effort will need to be made to avoid large gatherings and groups of people. Rather than sheltering persons who are ill, they will be strongly encouraged to remain at home. Institutions may be asked to serve as points of distribution (PODs) or staging sites for flu vaccinations. Local health authorities would assist in planning for and sanitizing facilities in preparation for returning the building to normal use.
Q: What should schools do if students, faculty, or staff appear to get
sick while on campus?
A: The U.S. Department of Health and Human Services and the Center for Disease Control, in its College and University Pandemic Influenza Planning Checklist at http://www.pandemicflu.gov/plan/pdf/colleges_universities.pdf recommends that: “Employees and students with known or suspected pandemic influenza should not remain on campus and should return only after their symptoms resolve and they are physically ready to turn to campus.”
We suggest the same caution applies to proprietary schools. Once the danger has passed, the school is expected to contract with a cleaning company for a thorough cleaning of the school.
Q: If emergency assistance is required, to whom should postsecondary institutions
reach out to obtain that assistance?
A: Schools should contact the local department of health, and also inform BPSS and any other appropriate office, such as VESID.