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Message to Faculty and Staff

Aug. 9, 2021

As we all are preparing for the start of the fall semester, the Re-entry Committee would like to share new and updated information with you, along with a few reminders.   

COVID-19 Vaccine  

You have most likely heard in the news that several of Michigan’s 15 public universities are mandating that students, faculty and staff be immunized for COVID-19. When the vaccines first became available, the University strongly encouraged everyone to receive the vaccine and continues to do so today. As mentioned previously, the University is not requiring the vaccine for students to attend Ferris, nor is receiving the vaccine a condition of employment.  

If you have not been vaccinated yet, we urge you to talk to your healthcare provider, and if you are able, take advantage of the opportunity these vaccines provide to lessen the severity of the disease and keep yourself, your colleagues and your family safe. The vaccine is readily available to you at the Birkam Health Center. Call x2614, Option 2, to set up an appointment.  

During student move-in week, numerous free vaccine pop-up clinics will be available on campus for arriving students and any accompanying eligible family members. Faculty and staff are also welcome to receive the vaccination at these pop-up clinics and anytime throughout the semester at the Birkam Health Center.  

Thank you to everyone who has documented they have been vaccinated in the Healthy Dog portal (where you complete the daily symptom checker). If you are vaccinated and have not yet done so, please fill out the “Fully Vaccinated for COVID-19 Documentation” form. This is confidential information located in the Healthy Dog portal and will not be shared. This will help us gauge the vaccination levels of our Ferris community. 

Masks Required in “Substantial” or “High” Transmission Areas 

The Re-entry Committee is working closely with local health departments and will continue to follow the guidance of the CDC and state/local health authorities. On July 27, 2021, the CDC updated its recommendations for fully vaccinated individuals. It now recommends masking indoors for everyone, regardless of vaccination status, in areas where community transmission is “substantial” or “high.”  

This CDC COVID-19 Data Tracker shows the current transmission levels (low, moderate, substantial and high) county by county in Michigan and the United States. Right now, Mecosta County’s level is “moderate.” This means our current mask expectation will continue, which is that all unvaccinated persons should wear a mask if they cannot maintain 6ft of distance from others. However, Kent County transmission is listed as “substantial.” This means the University will now require masks to be worn indoors by everyone, regardless of vaccination status, starting Tuesday, Aug. 10, 2021. This applies to faculty, staff and students at KCAD or other Ferris locations in Kent County including the Applied Technology Center and the College of Pharmacy’s instructional facility. KCAD faculty and staff can pick up a branded mask in the Mail Room on the first floor. Faculty and staff working at Statewide locations should follow the mask guidance provided by their respective colleges.  

Keeping a close eye on the transmission levels in our counties is important for each of us so we know the risk in our communities and current mask recommendations. This will enhance our efforts to protect the health and safety of ourselves and others. Those who are fully vaccinated may choose to mask up regardless of the level of transmission, particularly if they or someone in their household is immunocompromised or at increased risk for severe disease, or if they have children in the home who are not eligible for the vaccine.  

Unless already implemented through the “substantial” or “high” community transmission level, all faculty will have the option to require students wear masks in the classroom, regardless of vaccination status. This requirement will be indicated in the class syllabus. In addition, there may be other areas of campus where mask usage may be required. Departmental supervisors will have the ability to designate areas where masks are required. 

COVID Testing and Wastewater Surveillance 

Asymptomatic COVID-19 testing will happen regularly on campus for faculty, staff and students. Information will be posted soon on the Coronavirus Updates Hub webpage with scheduled dates and times for testing. This mitigation strategy, combined with wastewater surveillance, has been highly successful in monitoring and controlling the spread of COVID-19 on campus and in our community. Both of these testing components will continue this fall. 

Clean Classrooms 

The COVID-19 pandemic has caused us all to re-think how we keep ourselves and our colleagues safe. This includes practicing good hygiene (e.g. washing your hands often, covering your mouth and nose with a tissue - or your sleeve - when sneezing or coughing, using hand sanitizer, etc.) in addition to cleaning and sanitizing our work areas.  

Last year Physical Plant applied MicrobeCare to all touchpoints within buildings to include doorknobs, door pushes, light switches, etc., and also any flat surfaces in public areas such as classrooms, transaction counters and meeting rooms to combat possible exposure to COVID-19. This product is guaranteed to last throughout the average lifetime of the product it is applied to.  

Even with the use of MicrobeCare, it is important we all take personal responsibility for cleaning/disinfecting our work areas. A bottle of disinfectant and paper towels (or disinfectant wipes) will be provided for each classroom. Faculty are encouraged to clean/disinfect what they use/touch after each class period so it is clean for the next colleague coming in to teach. We are all in this together, and together we can help keep our colleagues safe.   

Air Quality  

There have been several questions coming in relative to air quality in campus facilities. Last year, Physical Plant evaluated the HVAC system capabilities for buildings across campus and has identified strategies to implement to mitigate the spread of COVID-19 and create acceptable indoor air quality. These strategies include increasing ventilation rates, ventilating 24/7 and flushing the building with outside air pre-and post-occupancy each day, utilizing air filters with a minimum MERV 9 and MERV 13 efficiency where possible, and the purchase of air scrubbers. These strategies were defined, proposed and applied for each building’s specific need on campus.  

Symptom Checker 

Please remember to complete the daily COVID-19 symptom checker before coming to campus. Visitors must also complete the symptom checker for visitors before coming to campus. 

Ordering of PPE and Other Supplies  

Cleaning supplies, mobile barriers, hand sanitizer and masks can continue to be requested through the Physical Plant – Plant Stores operation by key building custodians using the AiM system.   

The Re-entry Committee will continue to keep health and safety, coupled with preservation of the student experience, our first priority, and we are prepared to help the University pivot as CDC, federal and state guidelines change.  

The pandemic has certainly been, and continues to be, stressful for us all. Thank you for continuing to show care and compassion to one another as we navigate through this together.   

-The FSU Re-entry Committee