1. COVID-19 Update: Requiring face coverings indoors to enhance community safety

    August 9, 2021

    To All Members of the U-M Community:

    Here are the main updates at a glance:

    • With COVID-19 cases involving the more infectious delta variant trending up on campus and throughout the nation, state and in Genesee, Washtenaw and Wayne counties, the University of Michigan will require all individuals to wear face coverings in university buildings beginning Aug. 11 regardless of vaccination status. U-M will continue to require face coverings on campus transit, as well. Face coverings will not be required outdoors on campus.
    • The full policy is available here, with details of limited exceptions, which include actively eating and drinking, while alone with the door closed in an enclosed office, and being in your own residence hall, including common areas. The face covering policy will be adjusted as case levels change in the weeks and months ahead, and based on the overall state of compliance with our vaccination requirement.
    • This action follows the recommendation of our Campus Health Response Committee in the context of stronger masking recommendations from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention as well as state and county health officials.
    • Widespread vaccination remains the primary and most effective tool that will bring the COVID-19 pandemic under control. The university’s vaccination requirement will help ensure that the entire U-M community can have a vibrant and engaging academic year. We’re continuing to prepare for a fall semester that has more than 93 percent of Ann Arbor classes in person, residence halls at nearly full capacity, athletic and cultural events with fans and patrons, and outstanding in-person experiences for our students.
    • Information for students, faculty and staff members seeking a medical or religious exemption to the university COVID-19 vaccine requirement has been published in the University Record.
    • U-M community members unable to obtain a vaccine recognized by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration or the World Health Organization in their hometown or country of origin must apply for a temporary postponement (formerly known as a deferral). They can receive their first dose of vaccine upon campus arrival.
    • University advisers are available to speak with students, faculty and staff who have questions or concerns about the COVID-19 vaccine.

    U-M Indoor Face Covering Requirement

    With COVID-19 cases involving the more highly transmissible delta variant trending up on campus and throughout the nation, state and in Genesee, Washtenaw and Wayne counties, the University of Michigan will require all individuals to wear face coverings in university buildings and on campus transit beginning this Wednesday, regardless of vaccination status.

    This action follows the recommendation of our Campus Health Response Committee in the context of stronger masking recommendations from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention as well as state and county health officials. The full policy is available here, with details of limited exceptions, which include actively eating and drinking, while alone with the door closed in an enclosed office, and being in your own residence hall, including common areas.

    I know that we’ve already become accustomed to not wearing a mask 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. “Breakthrough infections” can occur in vaccinated persons, but while they rarely lead to serious consequences, they can spread to others. We’ll continue to assess conditions as they evolve and revisit this policy once the semester begins.

    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. We’re continuing to prepare for a fall semester that has more than 93 percent of Ann Arbor classes in person, residence halls at nearly full capacity, athletic and cultural events with fans and patrons, and outstanding in-person experiences for our students.

    Vaccine Advisers and Policy Exemption Requests

    Information for students, faculty and staff members seeking a medical or religious exemption to the university COVID-19 vaccine requirement has been published in the University Record.

    Exemption requests will be reviewed by designated U-M staff members from a number of units, including University Health Service, Student Life, Human Resources and Occupational Health Services, as well as representatives from all three campuses and the health system.

    U-M community members unable to obtain a vaccine recognized by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration or the World Health Organization in their hometown or country of origin can apply for a temporary postponement (formerly known as a deferral). Those requesting a temporary postponement agree to immediately schedule a COVID-19 vaccination upon arrival to campus.

    University advisers are available to students, faculty and staff with questions or concerns about the COVID-19 vaccine. Advisers can answer general questions about the vaccines, their safety and the role of vaccination in personal and community health. They are not able to offer medical advice or address any issues related to human resources or university policy.

    Faculty and staff from all three campuses and Michigan Medicine can reach advisers by phone on weekdays, 8 a.m.-4:30 p.m., at 734-764-8021. Callers should select prompt No. 2.

    Students from our three campuses who have questions about the vaccine are invited to sign up for a Zoom discussion with a clinician or nurse using the University Health Service website. The advisers are available for sessions on weekdays from 8-10 a.m.

    Additional Updates

    • Michigan Medicine infectious disease researcher Adam Lauring discusses what the delta variant means for COVID-19 spread and vaccines in a Health Blog post. The post notes the importance of vaccination and provides important context for interpreting increases in the number of breakthrough cases.
    • The vaccine page on the Campus Maize and Blueprint site includes information about the university vaccine requirement, upcoming vaccine clinics, how to get a vaccine through the University Health Service, and how to submit proof of a vaccine.

    I will continue to provide COVID-19 updates when needed to help keep everyone informed, address concerns and respond to feedback and questions from our community. You also may read the University Record for the latest stories and the Campus Maize and Blueprint site for updates. Stay safe and be healthy.

    Sincerely,

    Mark S. Schlissel, M.D., Ph.D.
    President