State Ends Mask Guidance for Schools, Other Indoor Areas

LANSING, Mich. — Gov. Gretchen Whitmer and the state health department are ending the state’s recommendation for wearing masks in schools and other public settings.

As COVID-19 cases and hospitalizations continue to decline in the state, the state is updating its mask guidance for public settings, to reflect that Michigan is entering a post-surge, recovery phase, officials said in a release Wednesday.

Currently, decreases in cases and hospitalizations and increased access to vaccines, testing and treatment indicate that Michigan is entering a post-surge, recovery phase of the cycle. During this phase, MDHHS recommends that all individuals, regardless of vaccination status, continue to practice universal masking in high-risk congregate settings including long-term care facilities, homeless shelters, correctional facilities, jails and health care facilities. All individuals, regardless of vaccination status, should also wear a mask during isolation and quarantine periods to stop further community spread of COVID-19.  

School districts and organizations should consider local conditions and work with their local health department to determine mask policies for school districts, public meetings and large events. Masks are an important tool in mitigating spread of COVID-19 and individuals who may be at higher risk of infection or who feel better protected when masked should choose when they feel comfortable masking.

“This is good news for Michigan,” Whitmer said. “While Michigan hasn’t had statewide mask policies since last June, this updated guidance will underscore that we are getting back to normal. Let’s keep working together to build on our momentum so we can keep our kids learning in person.”

Elizabeth Hertel, director of the Michigan Health and Human Services department, said individuals and families should “assess their own risk” for COVID-19 exposure and transmission and make choices about when it makes sense to wear masks.

“We want to make sure individuals and local communities have the information and tools they need to make choices for their families based on their personal situation and local community conditions,” Hertel said. “We continue to strongly urge all residents ages 5 and older get the safe and effective COVID-19 vaccine and to get boosted when eligible as the vaccine continues to be our best defense against the virus.”

Today’s announcement follows Whitmer’s signing of a bipartisan $1.2 billion supplemental funding bill, which includes $150.8 million for testing and screenings in schools so kids can continue safely learning in-person.

Michiganders should consider their individual and family members’ risk factors and vaccination status when making the personal decision whether to mask. Those with chronic illnesses or who are immunocompromised are at higher risk for poor outcomes from COVID-19 and would benefit most from masking in indoor settings. These risk factors may include age, medical conditions and vaccination status.

MDHHS will continue to monitor the transmission of COVID-19 closely to assess risk across the state and adjust as conditions change. These changes could include the presence of a new variant that increases the risk to the public, or an increased number of cases that strains the health care system. 

“For the past several months, we have been in a response phase as COVID-19 cases and hospitalizations surged,” said Dr. Natasha Bagdasarian, MDHHS chief medical executive. “With the continued decline in cases and hospitalizations, we are now entering a post-surge, recovery phase. As we move through the phases of our COVID-19 response our recommendations will be updated to reflect the current status of transmission, but we will continue to prioritize public health and promote health and wellness for all families and communities.”