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Communication to Students

March 11, 2020 (10:30 AM)

Dear Ferris Students and Families,

The health of our students is our number one priority, and we urge you to stay informed of official notices and resources regarding health precautions, travel safety and related information on COVID-19. You can view more information about the University’s response to COVID-19, a list of resources and Frequently Asked Questions at You can also view the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention website.

Last night Gov. Whitmer announced two Michigan residents have tested “presumptive positive” for Coronavirus (COVID-19), one in Wayne County and the other in Oakland County. COVID-19 is a respiratory virus that was first detected in China and has now been detected in more than 100 locations internationally, in addition to 38 states. We are still learning about COVID-19. Reported illnesses have ranged from mild to severe. Symptoms may appear two to 14 days after exposure and may include fever, cough or shortness of breath.

Many of you had the opportunity to travel over spring recess. If you believe you may have been exposed to COVID-19 during spring break, please contact the Birkam Health Center at (231) 591-2614, tell them about your concerns and follow their guidance.

The University is taking precautions for your health and safety, and is planning future actions as needed. At this point in time, classes will continue as scheduled. However, planning is underway to teach classes by alternative methods. Because the public health situation is dynamic, and we know that risk tolerance varies by individual, students and their families should make the final decision about what is best for their situation. The University will work with individual students on a case-by-case basis to support and help students navigate the completion of their academic work whenever possible.

If you are sick, please stay home from class. As soon as you realize you will miss a class or lab, notify your professor regarding options for making up missed work. Check the syllabus to be sure you know what is expected. Ask your professor about work that can be done in order to not fall behind while you recover. If you know that you will miss multiple classes, contact the Dean of Student Life at [email protected] to discuss options for informing your professors about your absences.

If you think you are experiencing symptoms of COVID-19 (fever, cough, shortness of breath) please CALL AHEAD to the Birkam Health Center on the Big Rapids campus - (231) 591-2614, or your healthcare provider, for further direction and instructions. If you had contact with someone who has been diagnosed with COVID-19 or if you live in or have recently traveled to an area with ongoing spread, be sure to share that information over the phone. If necessary, your healthcare provider will work with the local public health department and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention to determine if you need to be tested for COVID-19. In addition, Spectrum Health is offering free COVID-19 phone screenings. Call (616) 391-2380 to access the COVID-19 hotline. If you have severe or life-threatening symptoms, please call 911.

Relative to international travel, the CDC is currently recommending only essential travel to China, Iran, Italy, and South Korea (Level 3). To slow the spread of COVID-19 into the United States, all students, faculty and staff who have traveled to one of these countries in the past 14 days must follow the CDC guidelines for self-quarantine (stay home for 14 days from the time you left the area) and monitor their health. Students should email the Dean of Student Life Joy Pulsifer for support communicating to their faculty.

The best ways to prevent the spread of respiratory viruses (which also includes the flu) are to:

  • Wash your hands often with soap and water for at least 30 seconds. If soap and water are not available, use an alcohol-based hand sanitizer.
  • Avoid touching your eyes, nose, and mouth with unwashed hands.
  • Avoid close contact with people who are sick.
  • Stay home when you are sick.
  • Cover your cough or sneeze with a tissue or the inside of your elbow. Immediately throw the tissue in the trash and wash your hands.
  • Clean and disinfect frequently touched objects and surfaces.
  • Get a flu vaccine if you have not yet done so.

If you live on campus and are sick, or believe you have been exposed, it is important to remain in your residence and notify your front desk. They will assist you in making arrangements for food and other essentials.

Please know that this is a rapidly evolving situation, and we are in close coordination with state and local public health experts who are closely monitoring this situation for developments. As always, the well-being of our entire University community remains our top priority.


Jeanine Ward-Roof
Vice President for Student Affairs