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The University Insider is The Daily’s first faculty and staff-oriented newsletter. This weekly newsletter will give U-M faculty and staff the ability to see the most important issues on campus and in Ann Arbor — particularly those related to administrative decisions — from the perspective of an independent news organization. It will also provide a better understanding of student perspectives.

The University of Michigan announced an update to its face covering policy Wednesday. Starting Monday, March 14, masks will be optional in most indoor spaces on campus — including in offices, residence halls and athletic events — except instructional spaces, patient care areas, COVID-19 testing sites and public transportation. The Michigan Daily spoke to the Office of Public Affairs to answer some common questions about the changes to the mask policy.

Q: Will masks be required in classrooms during student organization events?

A: Masks will only be required in classrooms during instructional activities. During all other times, including student organization events, masks will be optional.

Q: Will masks be required in study spaces, including those within instructional buildings?

A: All study spaces including those within instructional buildings such as the Ross Winter Garden will not require masks. This change also includes University libraries.

Q: Will masks be required in the lobbies and hallways of instructional buildings?

A: Masks will only be required within instructional spaces during instruction time. Any other room or corridor within instructional buildings including computer labs, such as the fishbowl in Mason Hall, will not require masks. 

Q: Michigan Dining previously required masks while not seated at a table. Will this policy continue or has it completely been lifted?

A: Masks will not be required anywhere within dining halls, including when not seated at a table. However, ResponsiBLUE screening will still be required to enter dining facilities.

Q: Will masks still be required for individuals with an approved vaccine exemption?

A: Face coverings will be optional for all students, faculty, staff and visitors regardless of vaccination status on all three campuses.

Q: Rec Sports previously closed open play basketball due to low compliance with the mask mandate. Will open play basketball return?

A: Open play basketball will return to Rec Sports facilities when the mask policy changes March 14. A completed ResponsiBLUE will still be required to enter any Rec Sports facility.

Q: University groups including the Senate Advisory Committee on University Affairs (SACUA) expressed concerns about a hasty removal of the mask mandate. What groups did the University consult before making the decision?

A: According to University Spokesman Rick Fitzgerald, the Campus Health Response Committee (CHRC) consulted “widely with public health experts and University leadership groups” in the decision-making process.

Q: The Campus Blueprint FAQs state that the mandate was lifted following CDC guidance for areas with medium transmission including Washtenaw County. What are the University’s plans if transmission were to become classified as “high” again?

A: The CHRC will continue to monitor the transmission levels in Washtenaw County and act in collaboration with public health officials.

Q: Masks currently remain required on transportation across the country including at the University. Are there any plans to reevaluate this mandate following the order’s expiration on April 18

A: The University currently has no plans to change the mask mandate on transportation, but will continue to monitor regulations and guidance and make adjustments as needed.

Q: What is an instructional space?

A: Instructional spaces include classrooms, laboratories, performance venues, conference rooms or other spaces used to support academic experience.

Daily Staff Reporter Matthew Shanbom can be reached at shanbom@umich.edu