A letter from President George Bridges
April 30, 2009
Whitman Campus Community Members and Visitors:
As news reports indicate, cases of swine flu are appearing in an increasing number of geographic regions, including Seattle and Spokane. Accordingly, I want you to be aware of Whitman’s response to this situation.
Guided by our comprehensive Pandemic Response Plan, the College is continuing normal operating procedures while monitoring the situation closely. Should cases be identified in the Tri-Cities and/or Walla Walla, we will begin taking a graduated series of actions; among these include the possible cancellation or postponement of public events. This step is not warranted at this time.
Whitman’s response team is meeting daily. We are looking at the latest reports from the World Health Organization, the Centers for Disease Control and the Department of Health and Human Services. We are paying particular attention to announcements of the various levels or phases, and we are working to “translate” that information into actions, if any, we must implement on campus to mitigate the threat of infection.
We are also monitoring activity at other colleges and universities – both those with identified cases and those without. To date, none have implemented major cancellations. Monitoring the status of other campuses is helping us develop contingency plans. We must prepare for the possibility that the flu will spread to campus and that measures such as use of masks, social distancing and event postponement or cancellation may prove necessary.
At this juncture, the most critical action we have taken, and will continue to reinforce, is to urge campus community members and visitors to:
- Wash hands frequently.
- Use hand-sanitizer.
- Cough or sneeze into sleeve.
- Seek medical attention and isolate yourself if you have a fever or other flu symptoms.
- Consider re-scheduling travel plans to areas with outbreaks at this time.
As this public health situation continues, there are a number of scenarios that are possible for Whitman. To discuss these in a public forum at this moment would be premature. Please know that our campus team is diligent in considering plans that keep the best interests of all of Whitman’s constituents foremost in mind. I have great confidence in the work they are doing as they take steps to mitigate this situation effectively.
Finally, I ask you to please check your e-mail and/or the swine flu link on Whitman home page frequently for updates. Keeping accurately informed will serve all of us well.