After the long wait, the time has finally arrived for students to return to campus.
On March 11, Ferris announced that all face-to-face classes would be suspended until March 27. What started off as an “extended spring break” for students quickly evolved into so much more.
Students experienced many changes within a brief amount of time and everyone had to learn to adjust.
Despite other universities making the decision to go fully online and close their dorms, Ferris plans to move forward with conducting in-person classes and providing housing for students. A big reason this was decided was expressed by Vice President for Student Affairs Jeanine Ward-Roof during a town hall meeting held August 24, at 7 p.m. through Zoom.
Ward-Roof said that so many students expressed that they want to have the option of having an in-person experience. The adjustment to online classes was difficult to many and most preferred having the option to be in a classroom.
During the town hall the Faculty and Re-entry Committee discussed the following topics:
Ferris will be providing every student with a Ferris branded face covering, students however are allowed to provide their own but they must adhere to the guidelines the CDC set in place which are to:
• Fit snuggly against the side of the face
• Be secured with ties or ear loops
• Include multiple layers of fabric
• Allow for breathing without restriction
Students who have medical restrictions and are unable to wear the CDC approved masks should contact Educational Counseling and Disabilities services at email@example.com.
All students, faculty, and staff will be required to wear a face covering while inside of all University buildings and when social distancing is difficult. This does not mean that students need to wear a face covering at all times however, students are not required to wear coverings when:
• They are inside their own dorm room or home with only their roommates
• Eating or drinking while at the Rock or Quad,
• Giving a speech where the audience is at least six feet away from the speaker • While working alone in a private office.
Students on campus who do not comply with the directives given will be asked to leave either the classroom, building, event, etc. If they refuse to put on a face covering, they will be referred to the Office of Student Conduct.
Many changes have been made to ensure that on campus dining options remain as a safe option for students. The occupancy levels have been lowered and tables will have no more than two chairs. All dining halls are also closed to the general public to ensure that all students get the chance to eat safely. Dining has also implemented sensors which count how many spots are available. Students can check the occupancy levels before heading to the Rock or Quad to ensure they won’t have to wait for a meal.
On top of that all, more to-go options have been created for students and neither dining hall is self-service anymore. From food, beverages, and silverware, it all must be served to you.
This year many students have been offered the chance to stay in single dorms to help prevent the spread, however there are a small number of students who will be staying in doubles.
In all dorm halls there will be a bucket of necessities such as gloves, hand sanitizers, masks, disinfectant, and paper towels for students. During the beginning of the semester Housing has expressed that no visitors will be allowed into the residence halls. This could change in the future depending on the state of the pandemic.
Students do not need to social distance from those who they are living with as they will be in close contact with them.
Traveling is not prohibited to students but it is important that they keep in mind who they are interacting and coming into contact with.
Around Thanksgiving, many students will be traveling and going home which will increase chances that the disease can be brought back. By going virtual after the break, it will help lower the spread.
No walk-ins will be allowed at Birkam or the Personal Counseling Center and must be made online through the Healthy Dog Portal available through a student’s MyFsu account.
The library will be open along with the study rooms. Like before, reservations will need to be made for these rooms and there is a limit to the number of students who can be in each room.
Events and Student Life
In order to try and give students the college experience, Ferris will be trying to hold some events in-person, but the events will be socially distanced and outdoors. A vast majority of events that were traditionally held in person will be held virtually, such as Bulldog Bonanza and Founders Day. CLACS will be holding these events through a virtual platform called, Easy Virtual Fairs.
Many other offices on-campus will be doing the same, such as the Office of Multicultural Student Services who reported that all their events will be held virtually for the fall semester.
Registered Student Organizations are encouraged to try alternative methods of meeting, such as having the executive board meet in-person and the rest of the members meet virtually.
Ferris has expressed that during this time it is important that students follow the regulations that were set place by Governor Gretchen Whitmer. As of now, no more than 10 people are allowed for indoor gatherings, while 100 people are permitted at outdoor gatherings. Students are expected to follow these guidelines as well. Ferris will be watching and intervening if they see that organizations disobey any regulations. The organizations will be reported to Student Life and will be evaluated on a case-by-case basis.
If a student becomes ill and begins to fall behind in classes or finds it difficult to continue, Ferris will work with each student on a one-on-one basis. Any student who feel ill should contact their professor, their academic advisor and Birkam Health Center to work with them and see what the best solution will be.
What to do if you get COVID-19
If a student starts to feel symptoms, they should immediately set up an appointment with the Birkam Health center to get tested. If you have insurance, all COVID-19 testing should be free. If you do not currently have insurance Ferris is working with Spectrum Health to provide free testing for students so the cost should not be a burden.
If a student tests positive they should immediately report it to the university through their MyFSU account. From there a public health investigation will happen, where they will essentially ask questions about who you’ve been in contact with. It is important that everyone answer their phones even when it is an unknown number during this time, because it could be someone trying to inform you that you’ve been in contact with someone who has tested positive for COVID-19.
If students have come into contact with someone who tested positive, they’ll be put into quarantine for 14 days. Because something like this could happen at any moment it is recommended that students have a “go bag” prepared with essentials they may need.
Measures you can take to prevent the spread
Ferris will be offering a daily self-screening symptom checker that students can complete on their MyFSU account. This screening process is mandatory for Faculty and Staff before coming to campus. It isn’t mandatory for students but high encouraged, Ferris will be providing thermometers that can be placed onto your forehead to take make taking your temperature easier.
Be sure to practice good personal hygiene which includes frequently washing hands and using hand sanitizer whenever washing hands is not possible.
If you are sick from something aside from COVID-19, stay home and contact your professors. It’s very important to keep open communication during this time.
It’s also recommended that students keep six feet of distance between those who you do not live with when in public and in the classroom/ They should also travel through buildings using the right side of the hallway, being sure to use the stairs as much as possible.
The amount of new cases for COVID-19 in Michigan fluctuate daily. But Mecosta County has managed to keep the amount of cases of COVID-19 low, with a with a total of 76 cases, according to usafacts.org who has been keeping track of the total amount of COVID-19 cases since the beginning of the outbreak.
In order to keep this number from growing it is important for everybody does their part in keeping Ferris a safe environment. It is not only on the administration but as well the students to follow the regulations Ferris has set.
All information from the article was sourced from the ferris.edu and as well the Town Hall meeting that was held. To learn more about what changes are coming to campus, students can stay updated at ferris.edu/coronavirus.