BY TOM DALTON
---- — SALEM — Salem State University students were welcomed back to campus yesterday for the start of the second semester with a cautionary note: Wash your hands.
Like colleges around the country, Salem State is taking precautions to make sure it is prepared for the worst influenza outbreak in years.
“We hope you have enjoyed a nice break and are ready to come back and resume your studies,” Kimberly Daly, associate director of counseling and health services, wrote in a Jan. 10 letter to students and families.
“Given the current high level of influenza activity in our area, we want to share with you and your family some helpful information before you return and make some suggestions for remaining healthy.”
Along with the health hints came a warning.
“University policy states that any student identified as having a flu-like illness will be asked to leave campus and delay their return until they have been fever-free ... for 24 hours,” Daly wrote.
Like other North Shore colleges, Salem State offers flu shots to students. This week, it also posted signs in several languages encouraging students to wash their hands. It has about 400 international students from 70 countries, an official said.
More than 2,000 students live on campus at Salem State.
“I guess the good news is that with the (flu) scare a couple of years ago and then bird flu, we’ve had a pandemic plan in place for years,” said Karen Cady, a university spokeswoman. “Obviously, it needs (constant) updating because the situations change, but we do feel that we are as prepared as we can possibly be.”
Other North Shore colleges are taking similar precautions, but their students aren’t back yet from winter break.
Gordon College in Wenham starts tomorrow, North Shore Community College next week and Endicott College in Beverly on Jan. 28.
Tom Dalton can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.