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EMU to require masks in classrooms, encourage COVID-19 vaccine

Kim Kozlowski
The Detroit News

Eastern Michigan University announced Wednesday a classroom mask mandate for students regardless of vaccination status.

In a letter to the campus community, EMU President James Smith outlined the university's policies for the fall return to campus amid the continued spread of COVID-19. He noted masking and social distancing would be required but also said that students who report their vaccinations to the university could go without a mask in indoor areas outside of the classroom. When outdoors, masks would not be required.

Smith stopped short of mandating the vaccine as many colleges and universities have recently announced.

"The best way to defeat COVID-19 and work together as a community is to get vaccinated," Smith wrote.

Best Hall at Eastern Michigan University. Eastern announced Wednesday, Aug. 4, 2021 a classroom mask mandate for students regardless of vaccination status.

Smith's announcement comes as the Washtenaw County Health Department said in a press release that "local transmission of COVID-19 is increasing, and nearing 'substantial' levels."

Washtenaw County, where EMU and the University of Michigan are located, is at moderate levels of COVID-19 cases, officials said, with 30 cases being recorded per day. But the county would likely reach "substantial" levels if trends continue.

“Additional precautions are needed, and we must take them seriously,” says Jimena Loveluck, health officer for the Washtenaw County Health Department. “We know how to slow the spread of illness. We are asking everyone to mask up indoors in public settings. Get vaccinated if you are eligible and have not yet done so.”

In the past week, Wayne State University, Michigan State University, UM and other colleges have announced mask mandates.

Wayne State, UM and MSU are among a growing number of Michigan colleges and universities requiring COVID-19 vaccinations for their communities amid fears of the delta variant in addition to mask mandates. Central Michigan University announced Monday that it would not require vaccination but would require masks in classrooms.