A college in New York's Adirondack Mountains is preparing for the H1N1 flu virus by setting aside an entire dormitory for students stricken with the illness.
Paul Smith's College, about 120 miles north of Albany, hasn't had any reported cases of so-called swine flu. But officials say they want to be ready.
"It would be unrealistic to think that we can entirely escape this virus, and consequently, we expect H1N1 to show up on campus sooner or later," college President John W. Mills said in a letter to parents and students.
The 40-bed dorm will offer computers, Internet and television in the communal areas.
The school started preparing over the summer and has done standard prevention education with administration and students.
The college also plans to help sick students catch up on their school work once they recover.
Any students who appear to have symptoms will be strongly encouraged to isolate themselves in the sick dorm. If students become sick and refuse to go into self-isolation, the school could potentially suspend them or pursue other methods of discipline.
"That is far down the list of things we want to do," said Kenneth Aaron, a Paul Smith's spokesman. "If we have a sense that someone's being reckless with their health or the health of others, then this would be a last resort."
Officials are confident that students who seek help from the school won't avoid taking precautions.
"The bigger threat is if someone isn't going to report or go to health services," Aaron said. "That's what we're worried about, that students will say 'I'm sick, but I'm not that sick, I'll just keep showing up."'
The school faces unusual challenges, being somewhat geographically isolated in the Adirondack Mountains, particularly in the winter, when weather could keep sick students from going home to recover with parents.
Other colleges around the country have stocked up on hand sanitizing gel and Tamiflu and developed "flu kits" with items like tissues, thermometers and box lunches for students in isolation. Some have also designated empty dorms for sick students to be isolated.
"So far, knock on wood, we don't have anybody in it," Aaron said. "But we're kind of operating under the assumption that we will."