Commencement, Summer School and
Severe Acute Respiratory Syndrome (SARS)
A message to the Wellesley College community from Michelle Lepore,
Interim Dean of Students, and Vanessa Britto, M.D., Director, Health
At this exciting time of transition, Wellesley College seniors are
eagerly anticipating Commencement activities, and undergraduate students
are anxiously looking forward to summer experiences in locations around
the globe. The College also acknowledges the challenges and concerns
many students and their families face as they plan for these activities.
At the forefront of many minds are concerns regarding the College's
position on Commencement, Summer School activities, and how they relate
to the condition known as Severe Acute Respiratory Syndrome (SARS).
SARS is a respiratory tract infection linked to a novel form of the
coronavirus. The syndrome produced by this infection has been reported
in more than 28 countries around the world, including the U.S. Several
areas of the world have been disproportionately affected by SARS, however,
including China, Taiwan, Hong Kong, Vietnam, Singapore, and Toronto,
Canada. As has been noted by the Centers for Disease Control (CDC),
in the U.S., only a small number of suspected or probable cases of SARS
have been detected among exposed health-care personnel and household
contacts of SARS patients. Casual contact with SARS patients at schools,
other institutions, or public gatherings (e.g., attending the same class
or meeting) has not resulted in documented transmission in the
Wellesley Follows CDC Guidelines
Wellesley College's position regarding SARS has been and will continue
to follow the guidelines issued by the CDC concerning this problem.
The information about SARS is emerging at a very rapid pace, hence,
the College feels it is most important to adhere to recommendations
that are based on as much reliable information as is available rather
than develop its own, unique standards. At this time, the CDC does
not recommend quarantine of persons arriving from areas with SARS.
No Restrictions on Commencement or Summer School
Given the multiple levels of international screening and other comprehensive
activities in place to prevent importation and spread of SARS, the College
has placed no restrictions on upcoming Commencement activities or on-campus
summer school programming. We do, however, strongly advise all of our
students, their guests, and visitors to adhere to the following:
- As a simple, general rule, the first level of defense against almost
all infectious processes involves regular, careful hand washing with
soap and water or an alcohol-based hand rub.
- Students, guests and visitors arriving from areas affected by SARS
must understand the critical importance of continuing to monitor their
health for 10 days after their arrival. All should be reminded of the
yellow health alert notice received upon arrival in the U.S.
- Students are strongly encouraged to email or forward this information
as well as the CDC (www.cdc.gov) and
World Health Organization (WHO) (www.who.int)
websites to their guests traveling from SARS-affected areas for the
most up to date and accurate information.
- Commencement and reunion guests, visitors, and students arriving from
SARS-affected areas are urged to monitor their health for a temperature
of >100.4F (38.0C), a cough, difficulty breathing, or symptoms of pneumonia.
- If no symptoms emerge, normal participation in social activities,
school, work, etc may continue.
- If any of these symptoms are noted, a consultation with a health provider
is imperative. In order to perform an evaluation appropriately, however,
the health provider must be contacted before the symptomatic
individual arrives. Although the Wellesley College Health Service will
not be able to treat guests and visitors, the Health Service will assist
in contacting the appropriate health facility.
- During Commencement, Wellesley College Health Service personnel and
EMT's will be visibly stationed in the front and back areas of the tent.
Should a health care concern arise during the ceremony, they will be
on hand to assist or answer questions.
- Through Commencement, May 30, 2003, any Wellesley College student
who suspects exposure to SARS based on her symptoms and pertinent contact
or travel history should contact the Health Service right away in order
to arrange an appropriate evaluation.
- From May 31 thru June 16, 2003, students' inquiries regarding SARS-related
symptoms should be directed to Newton Wellesley Hospital in Newton (617-
243-6193) or MetroWest Medical Center, Natick campus (508-650-7400).
- During summer school, from June 16 thru August 9, 2003 the Health
Service will have limited summer school hours from 10 a.m. - 1 p.m.
A travel alert informs travelers of a health concern in a particular
area and provides advice about specific precautions that should be taken.
A travel advisory notifies travelers of potentially more serious
situations and advises that non-essential travel be postponed.
As of May 9th, there are CDC travel advisories recommending that individuals
who are planning nonessential or elective travel to mainland China,
Hong Kong, and Taiwan consider postponing their trip until further notice.
As of May 9, the CDC has downgraded its travel advisories to travel
alerts for those traveling to Toronto, Canada; Hanoi, Vietnam; and Singapore,
Click here for
updated travel information from the CDC web site.
People arriving in the U.S. from SARS-affected areas of the world (who
could have inadvertently been exposed to SARS) are receiving information
about SARS at various points of entry, are being instructed on how to
monitor their health, and being told what they should do if they become
ill. The CDC recommends that these travelers monitor their health by
measuring their temperature and note any respiratory symptoms such as
a dry cough, shortness of breath, or symptoms of pneumonia.
When traveling to those areas with travel alerts, it is important to
take precautions such as practicing good hand hygiene (frequent washings
with soap and water or an alcohol-based hand rub) and avoiding close
contact with large numbers of people as much as possible.
If recent travelers from reported areas note the onset of fever (Temp
>100.4) along with respiratory symptoms such as shortness of breath,
dry cough, or pneumonia within 10 days of travel, a medical professional
should be contacted first and an evaluation obtained. There does not
appear to be any report of developing symptoms without having first
been exposed to someone who was symptomatic.
Documented Temperature greater than 100.4 AND
Cough, difficulty breathing, or pneumonia AND
Travel within 10 days of symptom onset from a reporting area
Close contact (defined as caring for, having lived with, or being indirect
contact with respiratory secretions) within 10 days of onset of symptoms
with a person known to be a suspect SARS case
It appears that the natural history of SARS is such that the fever
may be associated with chills, headache, or body aches. Over the next
2-10 days symptoms of dry cough, shortness of breath, and possibly pneumonia
may be noted.
The coronavirus felt to be responsible for SARS seems to be most efficiently
transmitted via respiratory droplets. Hence, covering the mouth and
nose areas when coughing and sneezing are important and good general
health measures. Regular and thorough handwashing with soap and water
(or an alcohol-based hand wash) is also very important.
If you are concerned
If you have concerns about these symptoms along with a pertinent recent
travel history or close contact with someone who has returned from a
SARS-reporting area, we urge you to call Health Services (x2810). It
is important that you call before coming so that we can address your
needs quickly and appropriately.
The Health Service will continue to share information and encourages
individuals to monitor the websites of the CDC
[www.cdc.gov/ncidod/sars/] and WHO
[ww.who.int] for the most accurate and up-to-date information.
Given the rapidly changing health information about SARS, the College
will continue to share statements regarding programs and SARS-related
travel advisories in a timely and responsible manner.
Other Helpful Resources
Travel Tips for
of State Travel Warnings