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Message to Students

September 28, 2021

Message to Students from Joy Pulsifer, Dean of Student Life

Good morning Bulldogs,

As we begin week five, you may be feeling like you have an increased academic workload as exams and papers become due for the first time this semester. Your stress level may be increasing, and you may be feeling tired. This is typical this time of year, and as a result, more students are feeling ill. In addition, we are still navigating what it means to be ill during the pandemic.

The most common illnesses we see among our students are the common cold, flu, respiratory infections, mono, strep throat and COVID-19. Viruses like the flu and common cold typically last 7-10 days, meaning you may experience a stuffy nose, body aches, fatigue and sore throat for a while. Practicing healthy habits can help keep you from getting sick or spreading illnesses to others. Whether you are living in a residence hall, studying in a group at the University Center, going to class or attending an event, campus life brings us closer together. While in-person engagement has been wonderful, it also creates opportunities for illnesses to spread. Here are some ways to stay healthy and what to do if you feel sick.

1. Get Vaccinated

Since antibiotics don’t work against viruses, it’s important to get vaccinated against illnesses like the flu and COVID-19. Free COVID-19 vaccinations are available in the Birkam Health Center for students, faculty, staff, and their household members age 16 and up. If you have not been vaccinated and would like to be, please set up an appointment at (231) 591-2614, Option 2, or you can visit for area vaccination sites across the state. More information will be forthcoming soon about free flu shots for students.

2. Complete Asymptomatic COVID-19 Testing

Asymptomatic COVID-19 testing (for those with NO symptoms) is currently available for students at the Pharmacy Care Clinic on Tuesdays and Thursdays from 3 to 4:30 p.m., and on Wednesdays from 12 to 1:30 p.m. You can “Schedule an Asymptomatic COVID-19” test right from the Coronavirus Updates Hub webpage, or testing is also available at Birkam Health Center, Monday through Friday, by appointment. Please call (231) 591-2614, Option 2, if you would like to schedule an appointment.

3. Wear a Face Covering and Practice Good Hygiene

Washing our hands often can help prevent the spread of disease. When available, use warm water and soap to wash your hands for at least 20 seconds. Hand sanitizers with at least 60% alcohol are a good alternative when water and soap aren’t available.

4. Support Your Immune System

Your immune system is impacted by everything you do: what you eat, how much you sleep, your stress levels, etc. This means that eating regular and balanced meals, hydrating with lots of water, and getting seven to nine hours of sleep each night can help strengthen your body and immune system. When you’re well-rested and well-nourished, you are more capable of fighting off infections.

If you are feeling sick in any way, here is what you should do:

  1. Stay at Your Residence - If you’re not feeling well, stay home. Limiting your contact with other people can help reduce the spread of illnesses. It is important to protect each other from all illnesses, not just COVID-19.
  2. Complete the Daily Symptom Checker
  3. Inform Your Instructors and Supervisor - Inform your instructors and your supervisor that you are not feeling well, you are staying home, you have entered your symptoms on the daily symptom checker, and you will follow the instructions you receive from the Birkam Health Center as to when you can return to class and work.

If your symptom checker is in Red Status

  • Birkam Health Center’s COVID Case Manager will reach out to you.
  • You will be instructed to stay home, to self-isolate for 10 days from the onset of your symptoms/positive test and until 24 hours after any fever has resolved (whichever comes later).
  • You will not be required to test for COVID-19, to submit your results, or to take a specific type of test to go back to classes and work. However, if you test negative for COVID-19, your isolation time may be shorter than 10 days if your symptoms have resolved.
  • If you test positive, you cannot test out of isolation. You must isolate for 10 days from symptom onset/positive test and 24 hours from fever resolution (whichever comes later).

If your symptom checker is in Orange Status

  • You have reported you are a close contact of someone who has tested positive for COVID-19. A close contact is anyone who was within 6 feet of an infected person for a cumulative total of at least 15 minutes over a 24-hour period.
  • Fully vaccinated individuals do not need to quarantine unless they are feeling ill/develop symptoms. Please self-monitor for symptoms for 10 days.
  • If you are a close contact and you are not fully vaccinated, you must quarantine for 10-14 days, even if you are not ill/do not have symptoms. A 14-day quarantine is the safest recommendation; however, if you never develop symptoms of COVID-19, you may return to classes and work at Ferris after 10 days symptom free. You are not required to show a negative test to return to the classroom or work at Ferris, but you must quarantine for at least 10 days (with no symptoms) and 14 days if you have developed symptoms.
  • It is important to know that you cannot test out of quarantine.

If your symptom checker is in Yellow Status

  • You have indicated you are not feeling well and you have mild symptoms. You will be instructed by email from the Birkam Health Center to be tested for COVID-19. If you test positive, you must self-isolate for 10 days from symptom onset. If you test negative, you must stay home until your symptoms have resolved/you feel better. If you do not test for COVID-19, you must self-isolate for 10 days.
  • You are not required to test for COVID-19, to submit your results, or to take a specific type of test to go back to classes and work. However, you must self-isolate for 10 days unless you test negative and your symptoms have resolved.
  • If you develop a fever, cough and/or difficulty breathing (see Red Status above), you should contact the Birkam Health Center or your healthcare provider for advice and isolate for 10 days from the onset of symptoms.

4. Class seating

If you are isolating due to COVID-19, the COVID-19 Case Manager may ask your faculty for their seating charts if you have been in class and within 6 feet of others for 15 minutes or more in a 24-hour period within two days of developing symptoms or testing positive for COVID-19.

5. Continue to practice self-care

Drink warm liquids like tea to soothe a sore throat and stay hydrated, get extra rest to let your body recover and use over-the-counter remedies as appropriate to find relief. Call the Birkam Health Center and/or your healthcare provider for additional advice.

At Ferris, we have created an environment for you to succeed, thrive and matter. Take good care, stay involved, complete the daily symptom checker, wear a face covering, get vaccinated if you are not already and let’s keep safely moving #FerrisForwardTogether.

All my best,

Joy N. Pulsifer
Dean of Student Life