Report by Paula Antolini
April 23, 2018 7:52AM EDT
Western Connecticut State University Closed April 23rd As Illness Effects 100 Students
As 100 students fell ill at Western Connecticut State University (WCSU) this past weekend, Dr. John B. Clark, the President of WCSU, released the following letter:
Dear members of our university community,
Since the safety and security of our students, faculty and staff are of our utmost concern, Western Connecticut State University will be closed Monday, April 23, in response to the illness that has affected approximately 100 students. Although we are aware of a limited number of affected students, based on our discussions with the Connecticut Department of Health, the Danbury Department of Health, Danbury Hospital and the WCSU Director of Health Services, we have decided this is the best and most conservative course of action to protect our university community from infection and spread of the disease.
Additionally, this will give our professional staff an additional day to further consult with state and city health officials to determine next steps. Also, our maintenance crews, who have been hard at work sanitizing and disinfecting both campuses will have additional time to ensure that all areas of the university have been properly cleaned. While the latest data we have about the disease is encouraging, we want to make doubly sure that the university is safe and secure for all before re-opening.
As we know more details about the disease and those adversely affected, periodic informational messages will be sent out through the university’s website, email and other social media.
For anyone who is experiencing vomiting, diarrhea or stomach pain, follow these guidelines:
1. Please, if possible, go home to limit spread to others on campus.
2. Drink plenty of fluids.
3. Clean all surfaces contaminated with vomit or stool with a bleach solution. Launder
soiled clothes right away. Students who live on campus should contact Housing and
Residence Life staff to assist with room cleaning if necessary.
4. If you become dehydrated, go to the nearest emergency department. (Signs of
dehydration include dizziness, dry mouth, decreased urination, headache, muscle cramps,
5. You may return to campus two to three days after you have recovered.
6. If you are unable to go home, stay in your room, report your situation to your Resident Director, and stay in touch with your family or others who will check on you.
These tips might help you stay well:
1. Use good hand hygiene and keep your fingers out of your mouth.
2. Don’t share food, drinks, cups, or utensils.
3. Wash fruits and vegetables before eating.
4. Clean surfaces in your living space frequently with bleach wipe.
On behalf of the university, please accept my apologies for the inconvenience this may cause, especially at this late time of the academic year, but I hope you will understand our priority is for the well-being and safety of our university community.
Dr. John B. Clark
Western Connecticut State University will be open for classes and all activities on Tuesday, April 24.
University President John B. Clark announced that common areas on both the Westside and Midtown campuses have been cleaned to standards set by the Centers for Disease Control. Norovirus was identified as the source of the illness that sickened more than 100 students. The university’s response and recovery protocols have allowed normal operations to resume.
“We have confidence that students, faculty and staff can learn and work together and stay healthy, as long as everyone follows state-recommended appropriate treatment and precautions,” Clark said.
Those precautions include frequent hand-washing with soap and water. Hand sanitizer does not kill the virus.
Norovirus does not spread through the air, so students in a classroom will not become sick just because they are sitting in close proximity to one another. However, according to the state department of Public Health, it is important that anyone who has been ill not return to class or work for 72 hours after the last symptoms – vomiting and diarrhea – have subsided. During those three days after symptoms have stopped, a sick person can still share the virus and potentially contaminate common surfaces.
The state health department encourages frequent hand-washing to reduce general contamination. It is recommended that students wash their hands before and after computer use. Use a plain (non-antimicrobial) liquid soap for routine hand washing with temperate (warm) water, scrub vigorously for at least 15 seconds and then rinse under a stream of warm water.
Students who live on campus and who may need assistance, including with cleaning their living space, should contact their resident director. University staff will clean the rooms of any students who were ill.
The university and state and city health departments are continuing to gather information from students who were sick in order to seek the source of the outbreak, if possible, and how it spread. Students are asked to contact the WCSU Health Services Department at Lipked@wcsu.edu or (203) 837-8593 and provide information.
Last updated: Monday, April 23, 2018 02:30 PM