Norovirus spreads on campus

Liam Simard | Staff Writer |


 As students pack indoors to stay warm during the past month, the Norovirus and other colds spread across campus leaving many sick and out of class. This spread of sickness has impacted students and their ability to effectively perform in school.  

The Office of Health Services sent an email warning students of the Norovirus spread. The Norovirus, also called the “stomach flu,” is described to be transmitted in “closed environments and group settings” with symptoms that include diarrhea, stomach pain, vomiting, nausea and sometimes fever. In the email, students were strongly recommended to stay out of classes, practice and other activities for at least 24-48 hours after last symptoms. 

Shannon Gillett ’27, a first year student living in Alumni Hall, caught the Norovirus in February. “It caused me to miss roughly two days of classes,” Gillett said. “Had those two days not been right before a long weekend, I would’ve missed labs and quizzes.” 

Alumni Hall is home to over 200 students many of whom live two people to a room. “It’s been a fairly regular occurrence with such widely shared bathrooms to notice the aftermath of others being sick,” Gillett said. “Both my roommate and I had it at different times,” he said. “We managed by nearly living in other dorms and staying with friends.”

Jeff Vincent, associate dean of students and director of Residence Life at St. Michael’s said it has not been a typical year. “Whatever is going around right now seems to be highly contagious.” Vincent said due to COVID, the school has a template in place for anything students need. He explains that oftentimes they will get their information from the Bergeron Wellness Center and then relay it to the students.

A recent email sent by Bergeron made particular mention of the importance of sanitation and disinfection of areas where students could be sick. “We have asked facilities to supply the bathrooms,” Vincent said. “Also we have some of those things in the staff offices if people need them,” Vincent said. 

Students aren’t the only ones having to navigate around sickness. Professors also have to make adjustments. Sebastiaan Gorissen, assistant professor of Digital Media and Communications said these illnesses have impacted the classroom. “I’ve noticed that pretty much every single class I’ve taught I think over the past four weeks has had a significant amount of students drop out,” Gorissen said. “It is a difficulty keeping those students up to date.” Gorissen said he has to use a trust system with his students and that he advocated for them to take the time that they need and to return when they feel better. “I know that looking at lecture slides alone may not suffice in really getting an understanding as to what we’ve talked about.” He explains that there is a lot of learning involved with just being in the classroom and hearing others perspectives but it makes it difficult when half the class isn’t there because of sickness. 

“As a faculty member, I feel as part of my responsibility to do a little bit of extra work to make sure that those students are caught up,” Gorissen said.  “The RA staff is very in tune with their floor, checking in on them” says Vincent. “Making sure they are ok, Whatever the next steps are, whatever they need” Vincent advocates for the resources provided by Bergeron and how they are a valuable resource to students. “They can help assist students if they miss class,” says Vincent. “They can help students get meals” For students that are sick with the Norovirus, the Office of Student Health Services recommends plenty of rest and hydration for a speedy recovery.