By Elizabeth Halvorson
Grand Rapids Community College has safely moved to a “mask-optional” policy since Michigan has continued to see a decline in COVID-19 numbers.
GRCC students, faculty, and visitors will not be required to wear masks in indoor spaces upon returning to campus after spring break.
GRCC’s President Bill Pink sent out an email on Monday, Feb. 28 declaring the switch to mask optional.
“Our campus has followed the data, and sought guidance from our local, state, and federal health authorities throughout this pandemic,” Pink stated in the email. “The Centers for Disease Control has adopted new metrics and has moved our counties out of the ‘high’ risk categories.”
GRCC initiated its mask policy for all individuals indoors in August 2021 with COVID data showing that both Kent and Ottawa counties were listed as “high” risk, but now Kent County is listed as a “medium” risk and Ottawa county is listed as a “low” risk.
“We are transitioning from a policy mandating masks be worn in indoor spaces, to making them optional, effective March 1,” Pink said. “Masks will be required while riding public transportation, including the Sneden Shuttle. Other changes we’ve set in place, such as distancing, increased air filtration, and Plexiglass at some workstations, will remain as we continue to recover.”
“We continue to monitor developments at the local, state, and federal level,” said GRCC Communications Director Dave Murray in an email to faculty on Feb. 24. “One constant is that we are guided by a desire to do what is best to protect the health of our students, employees and community members.”
The Michigan Department of Health and Human Services released an update on mask guidance after the new CDC recommendations.
The press release stated, “As COVID-19 cases and hospitalizations continue to decline in the state, the Michigan Department of Health and Human Services (MDHHS) is updating its mask guidance for public settings, including school settings, to reflect that Michigan is entering a post-surge, recovery phase.”
In his email to the campus community, Pink wrote that the fight is not finished.
“Please know that we are not declaring victory over COVID,” Pink stated. “Not yet. But we are in a better place, and we are entering a different phase, and adapting as we have done since March 2020. We will continue to work with the authorities and monitor the data and conditions.”
For more information on GRCC’s COVID protocols, click here.
To read MDHHS’ mask guidance press release, click here.