U-M updates mask guidelines, other COVID-19 policies

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Wearing a mask will soon be optional on the three University of Michigan campuses, except for selected areas on the Ann Arbor campus, under a revised face-covering policy put in place ahead of the start of the spring and summer terms.

Effective May 2, masks will no longer be required during class times or on U-M buses for the Ann Arbor, Dearborn and Flint campuses. They will remain required in patient care areas and at COVID-19 testing sites on the Ann Arbor campus. The updated policy applies to all students, faculty, staff and visitors.

Michigan Medicine will maintain its current universal masking policy in all facilities where a patient may arrive as part of their care, including for billing or administrative purposes. The Medical School will follow campus guidelines and protocols.

Additionally, U-M children’s centers will follow their own policies related to mask use in their facilities due to their nature of work and engagement with younger populations that are not eligible to be vaccinated.

Two schools with winter term classes and exams scheduled to meet through early May — the Law School and Medical School — will maintain the masking requirement during class time through the end of their winter term.

“As we move into a highly vaccinated, but now mask-optional campus, it’s important to remember some in our community may be at increased risk and may choose to wear a mask to enhance their own personal safety,” said Robert Ernst, director of the COVID-19 Campus Health Response Committee and associate vice president of student life for health and wellness.

“Masks remain an effective measure against the spread of COVID-19. Everyone should remain respectful of others in their choices to either wear or not wear a mask.”

In addition, all three U-M campuses will continue to require members of their campus community to remain up to date on COVID-19 vaccinations as outlined under the policy. That means completion of the primary vaccine series and one booster when eligible.

The policy update and other COVID-19 expectations were announced April 27 in separate communications from leadership on the Ann Arbor, Dearborn and Flint campuses.

In their message to the Ann Arbor campus, Ernst and Chief Health Officer Preeti Malani said the changes are consistent with COVID-19 community level guidance from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

That guidance considers a measure of the impact of COVID-19 illness on health and health-care systems, in addition to current case activity, to help inform decision making for mitigation measures at the local level.

Ernst and Malani noted the number of COVID-19 cases on campus continued to trend downward in the last few weeks but remained at an elevated level, and that the majority of individuals who sought testing at University Health Service reported mild symptoms.

Other COVID-19 mitigation strategies for the Ann Arbor campus include:

Changes to mitigation strategies for the Dearborn campus include:

  • Suggested daily use of ResponsiBLUE.
  • No longer requiring weekly testing for those with an exemption from the vaccination policy.
  • Discontinued on-campus testing and vaccination clinic. Home test kits are available in the Human Resources Office for faculty and staff, and testing and vaccinations continue to be offered at local pharmacies and health-care providers throughout southeast Michigan.
  • Continued reporting of positive student, faculty and staff cases to the appropriate campus contact.
  • Resumption of normal operations related to events, including the Mardigian Library, Environmental Interpretive Center programming and hosting children on campus.

Changes to the COVID-19 mitigation strategies for the Flint campus include:

  • Continued daily use of ResponsiBLUE.
  • No longer requiring weekly testing for those with an exemption from the vaccination policy.
  • Discontinued on-campus asymptomatic testing clinics that were offered at the Recreation Center. Individuals seeking a COVID-19 test can access available off-campus options and resources.
  • Continued reporting of positive students, faculty and staff cases to the appropriate campus contact.

The university’s Campus Health Response Committee will continue to monitor COVID-19 activity in the communities surrounding the three U-M campuses and will base recommendations on the latest guidance available.

Reminders for the U-M community to reduce the spread of COVID-19 include:

  • Getting vaccinated against COVID-19, including any additional recommended boosters.
  • Getting tested after close-contact exposures and wearing a mask for a full 10 days.
  • Staying home, avoiding others, and getting tested for COVID-19 when one is sick or experiencing symptoms. 
  • Isolating for at least five days and wearing a mask around others for a full 10 days if one tests positive for COVID-19.
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