February 3, 2022
Dear Pitzer Community,
We write to share that we are investigating a gastrointestinal illness on campus. We have had 23 cases of students complaining of a 24-48-hour gastrointestinal illness over the past two weeks. This represents about 2.5% of our campus residential community, however, 14 cases is considered an outbreak by Los Angeles County Department of Public Health (LACDPH) regardless of the population size. At this time, most students have recovered, less than five students are currently experiencing symptoms, and ongoing outreach and support continues for impacted students.
Here is an update:
- We have partnered with Student Health Services and reached out to LACDPH at the beginning of this investigation to engage in ongoing communication. LACDPH is helping us investigate the potential source, along with partnering agencies. Our case manager at LACDPH has indicated that it is highly unlikely that this is a food or water related illness, and highly likely that it is the norovirus.
Please see this link from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention to learn more about the norovirus and how it is spread and prevented: https://www.cdc.gov/features/norovirus.
- Bon Appetit, our dining provider, has partnered with LACDPH and Environmental Health and Safety to investigate the food handling and the reported food eaten by those that are sick, and have not identified any commonalities. Additionally, Bon Appetit, is the supplier for three other Claremont campuses and there has been no reported illness. Further, the food inspector came out yesterday and we have no outstanding violations and continue to have an “A” rating. At this time, we have not identified any connections that lead us to believe this is food related. If you have information otherwise, please contact our dining hall manager Toni at [email protected].
- LACDPH affirmed this incident is likely not water related. However, Pitzer is taking precautionary measures by having our water tested by a third party.
- We are heightening cleaning of public spaces, particularly the restrooms in high traffic areas, such as the dining hall. Student affairs will be working with facilities to enhance access to cleaning supplies to all students and community members in the Residence Life Office, Office of Student Affairs, Gold Student Center, and Office of the Dean of Faculty. Students should be vigilant about thorough hand washing and regular disinfecting of high touch surfaces and restrooms in their residence hall.
- We request that any faculty or staff member that is experiencing symptoms of gastrointestinal illness should notify nurse Zephyr at [email protected].
- We are asking students who are ill to notify Student Health Services and Student Affairs.
- Student Affairs is coordinating with dining to deliver impacted students a care package of foods and sanitation items specific to this suspected norovirus illness. Pitzer is providing food care packages, and additional supplies for students who are feeling unwell. These packages include items like soup, crackers, and electrolyte drinks. If you are not feeling well and would like a food care package delivered, please complete this support form. Please be sure to click “dietary/dining” requests and complete the “description” section to help our dining staff understand your needs.
- Students may notify and be evaluated by Student Health Services by calling (909) 621-8222 for an appointment or seeking TeleHealth support 24/7 at 7C.Health.
- To report concerns to Student Affairs and for issues after hours, call Campus Safety at (909) 607-2000 to reach Pitzer’s Dean On Call at that same number.
- Students in need of personal or academic support during this time may contact Stephanie Hannant, Assistant Dean of Mental Health & Wellbeing at [email protected]. Stephanie can connect students to mental health referrals, well-being resources, or academic support (such as academic accommodations, academic coach, etc.).
We realize this is a stressful time already with COVID-19. Please consider reaching out for support if this information is particularly difficult for you. As a reminder, if you are exhibiting any symptoms, we strongly encourage you to report them and access support available. We truly want to make our campus as safe and comfortable as possible for all of our community members, and I’ll be sharing any pertinent findings as the investigation continues. Pitzer continues to take these concerns very seriously. We will post this message, resources and subsequent updates on this Student Life page. Please visit the site for latest information and support if you have been impacted.
VP, Chief Operating Officer, and Treasurer