The University of Michigan has decided drop its mask requirements for indoor sports, offices, and residence halls while maintaining them in other school settings such as classrooms, buses, other indoor locations. Beginning Monday, March 14 masks will be optional for students, staff members and visitors on most U of M campuses. Due to the rise in the vaccination rate among students, faculty members, and employees, the university believes that a relaxation of the mask mandate is necessary. Robert Ernst, associate vice president for student life for health and wellness and CHRC director said, “As the rate of COVID-19 activity decreases on campus and our state and region move from a ‘response’ to ‘recovery’ phase of the pandemic, the Campus Health Response Committee is issuing new guidance regarding COVID response on campus.”
As mentioned earlier, there will be no change in the requirement for masks in classrooms, classroom extensions, laboratories, performance spaces, patient care areas, COVID-19 testing sites, or on campus buses. According to the University and Local 4 Detroit, that mandate is likely to remain in place until the end of the winter semester. Ernst said that “Mask use is still an effective strategy for enhanced personal protection, especially for those with compromised immune status.” He believes that while they are “loosening the reigns,” he and the university are still not ready to get rid of masks completely as masks still are useful for public and personal protection.
The university leaders urge all individuals on campus to be considerate and respectful of those who choose to continue to wear masks in spaces where they are no longer needed. They also encourage all individuals to be kind and considerate of that choice as everyone continues to battle with ongoing changes involving COVID.