Since last week, the Norovirus has swept through the Thacher community, affecting upwards of seventy students and faculty members in a period defined by widespread sickness, canceled classes, and vigorous handwashing.
While signs warn against the spread of the virus on doors scattered throughout the campus, the Health Center has taken numerous cautionary steps to contain further infection, following preventative guidelines outlined by members of Ventura County Public Health.
Mary Yan ’18, Zanna Gulick-Stutz ’18, and Clare McCormack ’18 spend time outside the Health Center at a temporary lunch tent stationed to feed recovering patients. Through mid-afternoon on Tuesday, bands of sick students could be seen shuffling through, compostable bowl and spoon in hand.
With over 25% of the student body affected by the Norovirus, students have taken their own initiative, guarding against infection through facial masks and latex gloves. Others open doors through complex leg maneuvers or using the fringes of t-shirts or dresses. Here, Pria Koll ’18 and Harrison Marshall ’18 discuss the likelihood of infection with their classmates.
Dorm bathrooms across the campus have been separated to isolate contaminated students. Quarantined restrooms, implemented on the third day of the outbreak, are sanitized three times a day.
As the sickness rapidly spread, limited Health Center space forced nurses to make house calls across campus to check-in with recovering students. The Health Center has been an instrumental force throughout the outbreak, responding with dedication and efficiency to treat ill community members.
Outside Sespe, Helena Girardoni ’18 created a makeshift encampment armed with Lysol. As roomates have fallen ill, some students have taken extraordinary measures to avoid infection— some even staying off campus while others sleep in ‘healthy’ rooms. With symptoms that last between twelve and thirty-six hours, leaving those sick with severe stomach pain and general fatigue, the Norovirus has provoked notable student counter-measures. Those infected have a mandatory 48-hour quarantine period.
The outbreak, although serious, has inspired light-hearted jokes as students march through the week.
The newest addition to the Thacher campus —a sanitation station outside the Hills Dining Hall— has replaced Avery Fruit Stand. Using a foot pump, students can quickly wash their hands with a bleach and water solution before entering the cafeteria. Notably, the Dining Hall staff has also taken extreme precautions, relying on portable silverware and plates while eliminating all self-serve buffets.
Over the last two days, preventative policies have had a positive effect; community illnesses seem to be receding while others are reaching a full recovery quickly. However, with Gymkhana Weekend around the corner, it remains to be seen how the spread of the Norovirus will be contained; already, sanitation stations have been placed outside the outdoor auction space awaiting incoming family members.