Lessons may have been learned

People at Pitt-Johnstown have become used to the term Norovirus. Starting March 27, many students became prisoners of their bathrooms.

What seems to be a Norovirus is still lingering on campus, but Advocate editorial board members were impressed with administrative official’s response to the situation.

Despite a long-standing  history of failures to communicate with their community, particularly in emergencies, this time they seem to have gotten it mostly right.

On March 28, staff, faculty and students received emails of the situation and how to prevent becoming infected.

Group activities were canceled, all opened food was removed and self-isolation for those who were ill was encouraged.

Health Office and Counseling Services officials  have continued to keep everyone updated on the situation.

Sodexo Retail Manager Paula Bloom said that Sodexo put in extra hours over the weekend and has hired 15 more employees for the time being.

With the cafeterias closed down for the weekend, people were provided with free prepackaged food from off-campus vendors.

Administrative officials explained through the numerous emails about campus sanitation, including academic buildings, the Student Union and resident halls. Along with having officials from the state Department of Health make sure the proper procedures were being implemented.

A cleaning staff also went throughout campus and made sure all toilets were properly cleaned.

Among the precautions that have been made, several infected students were asked for a stool sample. The samples were given to Health Office workers then sent to officials at the Department of Health in Harrisburg for analysis.

The test results take about two weeks to process. School officials have asked for the testing to be expedited, but some of the testing process cannot be.

An April 2 email said, 167 students had reported being ill, 52 of them having developed symptoms less than 72 hours previous.

We believe that the situation was handled well, although an alert system may have been helpful.

The phone call and text alert system for campus was just tested about a week before the outbreak.

With the amount of emails that staff, faculty and students receive from [email protected] it is common for people to ignore this avalanche of emails.

Someone needs to manage it so that only important emails are in some account uncluttered by not-so-important communication.

Also, not all people are good about checking their emails on a regular basis, especially over the weekend.

We believe that school officials did a good job at handling this viral outbreak, but, for the future, it may be more beneficial to utilize this alert system that we have, and someone needs to manage the email avalanche.