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Message to Faculty and Staff

October 26, 2021

Good afternoon, 

Thank you for continuing to use the tools and resources available to help keep our University community safe and healthy. This includes:     

  • Completing the daily symptom checker before coming to a campus location
  • Reporting COVID-19 signs/symptoms in the symptom checker  
  • Staying home when you are feeling ill  
  • Reporting a positive test result for COVID-19   
  • Wearing a face covering indoors over the mouth and nose, regardless of vaccination status   
  • Engaging in good hygiene practices including frequent and thorough hand washing    

Your efforts are working. The COVID-19 Dashboard reports five new COVID-19 cases as of Monday, Oct. 25, with 16 active cases among faculty, staff and students associated with the University. This includes not only the Big Rapids campus but our statewide locations as well. Kendall College of Art and Design reports no new cases, with one active case among faculty, staff and students. The dashboard is updated daily, with Saturday and Sunday numbers reported Monday afternoon. 

Contact Tracing and Close Contacts 

To help slow the spread on campus, Birkam Health Center continues to monitor all reported cases, and engages in case management and contact tracing activities. Contact tracing is performed following guidance from the CDC and local health authorities.  

When someone tests positive for COVID-19, the COVID-19 case manager will ask the positive individual a series of questions and will identify any close contacts (those who were less than 6 feet away for a cumulative total of 15 minutes or more over a 24-hour period from 48 hours prior to their onset of symptoms or their positive test, whichever came first). 

When those contacts are identified, and if they are associated with campus (e.g. a student, faculty or staff member), Birkam’s COVID-19 case manager will connect with the close contacts via email and share quarantine protocol if they are not vaccinated (quarantining is not required for those who are fully vaccinated and asymptomatic). If the close contacts are not associated with campus, the information is then provided to the respective community health department.   

As faculty, you would not hear from Birkam if a student in your class tests positive unless you are identified as a close contact. However, if a student chooses to tell you of their positive status, you can manage that information confidentially moving forward as you help the student with their class assignments until they can return to class. The student’s diagnosis is protected health information and should not be shared with anyone. If the student is isolating due to COVID-19, the COVID-19 case manager may ask you for a seating chart, or other information about students who might have been in close proximity, to aid in contact tracing. It is also important that Birkam Health Center provide the appropriate contact tracing and associated quarantine protocols. Thank you for helping these students during their isolation or quarantine period. 

Managing Mask Fatigue – Seeking Compliance from Students 

Are you finding it challenging to ensure your students are staying masked up in the classroom? The Faculty Center for Teaching and Learning, in partnership with the Office of Student Conduct, will host a session on “Managing Mask Fatigue – Seeking Compliance from Students” for the University community. This session will be held via Zoom on Wednesday, Nov. 3, from 2 to 3 p.m. Everyone is invited to attend.  

In addition to connecting with other faculty members who are experiencing this challenge and sharing ideas, these sessions will enable you to:  

  • Describe University guidelines for enforcing mask requirements and the processes and procedures used by the Office of Student Conduct after a mask-related referral is made; 
  • Use proactive management strategies to increase compliance; and 
  • Discuss with other faculty ideas for addressing non-compliance from individual students. 

Flu Shots Available for Faculty, Staff and Students 

As our community continues to battle the coronavirus, we are also entering flu season. The best way to protect yourself from COVID-19 and the flu is by getting vaccinated for both. To help the University community stay healthy, the Birkam Health Center is offering flu shots to faculty, staff and students on Tuesdays via the Healthy Dog Portal. If any of the available appointment times do not work in your schedule, please contact Birkam Health Center by phone at x2614 for a possible alternative appointment.  

A flu vaccine clinic will be held today at Kendall College of Art and Design, Room 103, from 1 to 4 p.m. This is for all KCAD faculty, staff and students. An appointment is required. To sign up for an appointment, click here.  

If you have not been vaccinated yet for COVID-19, 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.    

COVID-19 Booster Shots 

If you are fully vaccinated for COVID-19, and it has been six months or more since your second dose, you may be eligible for a booster shot. For individuals who received a Pfizer-BioNTech or Moderna COVID-19 vaccine, the following groups are eligible for a booster shot at six months or more after their initial series:  

  • 65 years and older
  • Age 18+ who live in long-term care settings
  • Age 18+ who have underlying medical conditions
  • Age 18+ who work or live in high-risk settings 

For those who received the Johnson & Johnson COVID-19 vaccine, booster shots are also recommended for those who are 18 and older and who were vaccinated two or more months ago. 

The University anticipates receiving doses of the booster for the Ferris community, but until then, if you are eligible, please connect with your local health department, healthcare provider or local retail pharmacy.  

Thank you for staying informed. We will continue to provide information via email and on the Coronavirus Updates Hub. As always, you can reach the Committee at [email protected].   

 -The FSU Re-entry Committee