U-M to require face coverings indoors across all campuses


With the number of regional COVID-19 cases increasing and a greater risk of transmission due to the more infectious delta variant, the University of Michigan will require anyone in a campus building or on campus transit to wear a face covering, regardless of vaccination status.

The new policy takes effect Aug. 11 and applies across the entire university, including buildings on the Ann Arbor, Dearborn and Flint campuses and other university-occupied properties. Face coverings already are required inside Michigan Medicine facilities.

A key exception to the policy allows for vaccinated students living on campus to not wear a face covering while in their own residence hall, including common areas.

In an Aug. 9 message to the campus community, President Mark Schlissel pointed to a number of factors that led to the change, including the upward trend of COVID-19 cases and local and federal public health guidance that now recommends wearing face coverings indoors.

“I know that we’ve already become accustomed to not wearing a face covering if vaccinated, but we want everyone in our community to be as safe as possible, especially as the highly infectious delta variant of SARS-CoV-2 continues to spread,” Schlissel said. “’Breakthrough infections’ can occur in vaccinated persons, but while they rarely lead to serious consequences, they can spread to others.”

The decision to require face coverings aligns with the recommendation of the university’s Campus Health Response Committee, which continues to closely monitor the changing conditions of the pandemic and work in collaboration with the Washtenaw County Health Department.

The policy is separate from the requirement that students, faculty and staff on all three U-M campuses and Michigan Medicine are required to be vaccinated against COVID-19 and submit their vaccination information before the start of the fall term on Aug. 30.

“Widespread vaccination remains the primary and most effective tool that will bring the COVID-19 pandemic under control, and our vaccination requirement will ensure that all of U-M can have a vibrant and engaging academic year,” Schlissel said.

The new face-covering policy requires all students, staff, faculty and visitors to wear a face covering that covers the mouth and nose on U-M buses and in most indoor settings, including classrooms, libraries, offices and indoor sports venues.

The university policy cites limited exceptions in which a person is not required to wear a face covering indoors, including while alone in a single, enclosed, private office with the door closed, actively eating or drinking, swimming or receiving a service that requires them to temporarily take off their face covering.

Students are also not required to wear a face covering in their assigned residence hall or apartment. Those who are unvaccinated should continue to wear a face covering in shared areas of the residence. 

Those granted a reasonable accommodation under the Americans with Disabilities Act also are not required to wear a face covering indoors.

The Washtenaw County Health Department issued an advisory Aug. 4 citing the increasing rate of COVID-19 transmission in the region and recommending face coverings for everyone in indoor, public spaces.

That followed guidance last month from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention advising vaccinated people in areas of “substantial or high transmission,” to once again wear a face covering indoors in public.



  1. Christine Kitchens
    on August 9, 2021 at 11:25 am

    Will the change in mask policy impact building occupancy? For example, the lab space I work in originally had an occupancy limit of 4 people at the start of the pandemic, but (as far as I’m aware), we were back to 100% occupancy recently. Is occupancy going to be reduced again?

  2. Ryan Olivier
    on August 9, 2021 at 11:36 am

    This is a disgrace. Does the vaccine that they made every student and faculty get work or not? If the vaccine works, face masks should not be required. These people are the vaccine conspiracy theorists because they do not believe in the efficacy of the vaccine. Either mandate vaccinations or mandate masking; you cannot reasonably do both.

  3. Thomas Cook
    on August 9, 2021 at 12:28 pm

    “I know that we’ve already become accustomed to not wearing a face covering if vaccinated, but we want everyone in our community to be as safe as possible, especially as the highly infectious delta variant of SARS-CoV-2 continues to spread,” Schlissel said. “’Breakthrough infections’ can occur in vaccinated persons, but while they rarely lead to serious consequences, they can spread to others.”

    Absolutely ridiculous. Could we for once actually be the leaders and the best and LEAD and not roll over like a bunch of cowards?

    I’ll say it again – Don’t wear a mask, two weeks to flatten the curve, wear a mask, wear two masks, get the vaccine, wear a mask even if you’ve had the vaccine – when does it end? Never if folks like senior leadership have their way. We’ve long left the realm of working towards a reasonable public health goal and descended into cowardice and tyranny.

    Are you looking for zero deaths from Covid? Because it’ll never happen folks. Fun fact – everyone reading this will die someday from something, guaren-flipping-teed. Never a mention of natural immunity for those who’ve had the virus. No thought to the fact that reported cases doesn’t equal infections – Lord knows how many of us had it and sloughed it off. Just winging it and relying on our crumbling confidence in your authoritative (now authoritarian) leadership to go along and get along.

    Look around the world – these mandates don’t work, they’ve never worked, there’s no reason to expect them to work in the future. You can’t cover the world in bubble wrap and legislate safety. Mitigate risk yes, eliminate it, never. As mentioned, you’re really not convincing folks to get the emergency approved vaccine (that’s still not approved for kids under 12). Does the vaccine work or did you just run an unethical medical experiment on hundreds of millions of us who got the shot(s)?

    Add to all of that the total lack of accountability for all the damage done by all these mandates (the increase in suicides, addictions, depression, business failures, sub-par remote education, the hypocrisy of those in power not following their own rules) – in short, people don’t believe in our leaders anymore as your authority isn’t based on anything more than because I said so – that doesn’t work on reasonable adults over the age of 17.

  4. David Blair
    on August 9, 2021 at 2:39 pm

    There is a reason why there has been no effective vaccine developed for the common cold. Coronaviruses constantly mutate, with near infinite possible combinations.
    I wish Vegas had a line on this, would have won some cash on the prediction of the roaming goalposts.
    From flattening the curve to we will need boosters. The agenda is clear to those who can look past Dr. Mengele and the mental illness these people like have to think they have a superior intellect to control us peasants.
    Time to wake up folks.

  5. Nicholas Karns
    on August 9, 2021 at 10:01 pm

    As a freshmen coming into the University last year, I understood all the rules and why they were in place. I followed those rules as best as I could. Now after a year of the virus we were told that if we got the vaccine we could return back to normal. Clearly that isn’t the case. If the vaccine is safe and effective, why would we need to have mask mandates?

    The mask mandates/lockdowns didn’t work as we still have this problem a year later. The social and economic effects of these mandates have had a worse effect then the virus itself. Why would we continue to do the very same things that clearly didn’t work the first time?

    I am frustrated with the hypocrisy of how rules are enforced. Over the past year I have seen many protests and college students hanging out either without social distancing/having masks. And even though I followed the rules to the best of my ability, I am being attacked for wanting normal school which was promised with the vaccine. How is that fair?

    COVID is never going away and falling back to the same failed policies is the wrong approach. We need to be strong and learn how to live with the virus. Remove the mask mandate!

  6. Kathy Bovenschen
    on August 10, 2021 at 4:56 pm

    I am curious why, since these vaccines and face masks are allowed by the FDA under an Emergency Use Authorization (EUA), the University has not followed the requirements of the EUA. According to Title 21 U.S.C. Section 360bbb-3(e)(1)(A)(ii)(I-III), the University must inform employees that these products have been authorized for emergency use, provide the “significant known and potential benefits and risks” of emergency use of the products and extent to which such benefits and risks are unknown, and inform them of any alternatives that may be available and their benefits and risks? Additionally, persons must be made aware of their right to refuse the products (or to refuse it for their children or others without the capacity to consent) and of the potential consequences, if any, of this choice. A condition of informed consent is that no coercion can be applied in use of these unapproved medical products.

    I am amazed that the University, or any government authority for that matter, has so far failed to follow federal law in regards to administering these EUA products. Will the University be collecting and analyzing safety and efficacy information on these unapproved medical products? Will the University be carefully monitoring and reporting the adverse events of these medical products, if mandated? Will any injuries from these products be covered under Worker’s Compensation? If not, why not? The vaccine manufacturers were given immunity from liability, so the burden of liability falls on the employer if they are mandated, correct?


  7. Atharv Relekar
    on August 10, 2021 at 8:02 pm

    So let me get this straight. The university mandates masks after mandating vaccinations, after 81% of students were vaccinated. Do the vaccines not work? Do they not provide any immunity? And if you are vaccinated, YOU WILL BE FINE, so then why care if someone else is not vaccinated? That’s their decision and if they’re ready to deal with the effects of not getting the vaccine, that’s on them! This is just an UTTERLY ridiculous decision.
    However, I am wondering, how are they going to enforce the mask mandate? I imagine it being fine if you entered a building without a mask or even if you removed it inside. Hoping that there’s no actual enforcement of this unscientific absurd mask policy.

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