Effective immediately, the University of Michigan will require all students, staff, faculty and visitors to wear a face covering while anywhere on campus grounds, University President Mark Schlissel wrote in an email to the campus community Wednesday afternoon. 

“This includes when inside buildings, outdoors and on U-M transportation on all of our campuses,” Schlissel wrote. “It is difficult on a busy university campus to maintain distance from groups even while outdoors, so requiring face coverings outdoors will help slow the spread of the virus.”

Schlissel’s announcement is his first communication with the broader University community since announcing a “public health-informed in-residence” fall semester on June 22. 

The new policy will apply to community members inside buildings, outdoors and on University transportation. While homemade masks, scarves, bandanas and handkerchiefs are acceptable, the policy recommends face coverings that seal as tightly as possible to the face. 

However, there are a dozen exceptions to the face covering rule, including when one is in a private office or dorm room, eating or drinking while maintaining social distance and engaging in recreation while maintaining social distance. Medical exemptions are also noted in the policy. 

According to the policy, transmission of COVID-19 is greatly reduced and lives are saved when all people wear face coverings in public.

“Because many cases of COVID-19 are mild or asymptomatic and COVID-19 can be transmitted days before an individual with the virus is symptomatic, the community is best protected when all individuals mask up,” the policy reads. 

Schlissel also announced the creation of a COVID-19 Campus Health Response Committee. The committee will distribute information, coordinate between different University offices and provide expert advice to University leaders, Schlissel wrote.

“Its members will design and implement public health and safety measures and policies, analyze data and serve as a resource to our schools, colleges and units,” Schlissel wrote. “Our size and scope often make one-size-fits-all solutions impractical, and this committee will help resolve questions from different campus areas.”

Rob Ernst, associate vice president for student life and executive director of the University Health Service, will lead the 15-person committee

Summer News Editor Calder Lewis can be reached at calderll@umich.edu.

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