By Camille Radford
September 29, 2017- Over the past few days there has been a health scare throughout Thiel College that has affected dozens of students.
On the night of Tuesday, Sept. 26, many students began experiencing bouts of vomiting and diarrhea. This caused several to go to the hospital due to severe dehydration. There, they were treated for the dehydration, with no confirmed diagnosis as to what it was.
By Wednesday morning, the entire campus was aware of the fast-spreading un-named illness. Students were trying to understand what was making their peers sick and in doing so they turned to social media to express their concerns. Some students speculated that the food on campus was to blame while others believed it to be an airborne virus.
Due to the number of infected students, Thiel faculty decided to update the entire campus on the outbreak. Director of Student Health Services Chris Cianci sent out an email naming the outbreak as a gastrointestinal illness and that the College was working with local health agencies to find the cause.
Jason Roller, resident director for the AVI food services company, was aware of student and faculty health issues. He was unable to give an official statement as to the cause while the testing was still going on. But he stated that he had confidence in his staff to uphold the strict guidelines that AVI has as a food provider of Thiel College.
Roller said he is always readily available to talk with students either in person or through email and he stressed the safety of students, faculty and workers is his staff’s every day top priority.
That afternoon, Michael McKinney, vice president of student life, sent out another email alerting students that the Pennsylvania Department of Heath was testing samples and results would be shared as soon as possible. The Health Department also gave faculty advice on how to control the spread of this illness.
That evening, McKinney sent out another email to campus stating, that if students were ill, they should not participate in their classes or other activities until they recover. This allowed for some student to take advantage of this time by not attending classes, but also allowed those that were sick a reprieve of attending lecture only to infect more students.
By Thursday, class attendance dropped dramatically both from the number of students who were sick, and or in the hospital, and students afraid of how the illness was spreading through campus. Students could be seen wearing face masks, under the belief that it was airborne, to prevent the spread. Although students were told that the cause was norovirus, many students still shied away from away Thiel College food.
By Friday, the worst had passed and President Susan Traverso addressed the College population in an email, applauding the faculty and staff for their timely contributions to keep the campus safe. That included the nurses, public safety and the resident directors, among others, the president wrote.