Indoor face mask requirement/Campus update: Aug. 6, 2021

To the Eastern Michigan University community,

As we are all well aware after many months of working through the COVID-19 pandemic, conditions continue to change. As these conditions change, we must adapt to evolving guidance from healthcare authorities. We appreciate the ongoing resilience of the members of our community as we adjust based on the most current conditions.  

The CDC and the Washtenaw County Health Department (WCHD) have updated their guidance for Washtenaw County in light of increased community spread of COVID-19. The County has now moved into the “substantial” level of COVID-19 transmission and, following CDC guidance, now recommends the wearing of face masks for everyone in indoor public spaces.

Due to this change in transmission levels in the County and the updated CDC/WCHD guidance, effective Monday, August 9, 2021, all members of the campus community (including all students, employees, and visitors) must wear a face mask while indoors, regardless of vaccination status, except in the following circumstances where indoor masking is not required: 

  • You are an instructor teaching in a classroom, you are fully vaccinated against COVID-19, and you have verified your vaccination status with the University here. Instructors teaching without a face mask should maintain six-feet physical distance if not behind plexiglass, and may remain unmasked during the class period only.

  • You have a disability-based University accommodation regarding wearing a face mask (employees requesting an accommodation should contact and students requesting an accommodation should contact

  • You are alone in a private office, living space, or private motor vehicle with the door closed, or in another similarly isolated space.

  • You are actively eating, drinking, or swimming.

  • You are undergoing a physical exam of your mouth, nose, or throat by a medical professional.

  • You are attending an event that has been approved for a special exemption. Requests to consider exemptions for events must be submitted to the Office of Conference & Event Services (CES) at

Face masks are not required outdoors regardless of vaccination status.

Individual University employees and offices cannot waive the University’s indoor face mask requirement -- including the mandate that face masks be worn by all students in classrooms -- without the approval of the President’s Office. When necessary, instructors should reference and follow the University’s Guide to Classroom Management in the event an individual in the classroom refuses to comply with the University’s face mask policy. It is considered disruptive classroom behavior to refuse to comply as directed.

We hope that this indoor face mask mandate is temporary. The best way to return to a sense of normalcy is for people to receive the COVID-19 vaccine. You may learn about opportunities for vaccination and the vaccine’s safety here. We strongly urge all members of the EMU community who qualify to get vaccinated, as it is one of the safest and most effective ways to minimize the spread and seriousness of COVID-19.  

We understand that the University has issued many policies in recent weeks and this series of communications may create confusion. Unfortunately, the guidance from health professionals is rapidly changing as the COVID-19 pandemic continues to evolve. The University -- and all of us as individuals -- must be prepared to change as conditions change. 

We will publish a comprehensive summary of all current policies in place two weeks before the start of the fall semester. In the meantime, you may review safety policies here.

Please continue to closely monitor your email for further updates in the days and weeks ahead.

We have several other updates to share this week:

  • Early College Alliance celebrates college graduation success rates
  • STEM activity kits delivered to local youth
  • Aviation program adds new flight simulator
  • EMU Police Department hosts annual Bike Rodeo
  • Swoop’s Food Pantry Schedule
  • EMU Olympian competes in triple jump

Early College Alliance celebrates college graduation success rates

Students enrolled in the Early College Alliance (ECA) program have a significantly higher four-year college graduation rate than other students in Washtenaw County and across the state.

According to the 2020 data, 72 percent of the ECA students who graduated from high school in 2010 had completed a four-year college degree within six years, compared with 42 percent for the county as a whole and 26 percent for the state. 

Those contrasts grow even more striking regarding graduating ECA Black students, 76 percent of whom earned college degrees compared to 18 percent in Washtenaw County and 11 percent across the state for the measured time frame.    

ECA graduates complete college at a rate of nearly 300 percent higher than other students in the state of Michigan, and for black students, that number is nearly 700 percent. Those are stunning numbers and are a credit to David Dugger, Executive Director of the Washtenaw Educational Options Consortium, which oversees the ECA@EMU, Dr. Ellen Fischer, Principal of the ECA, and all of the program’s faculty and staff. Read more about the ECA in EMU Today.

STEM activity kits delivered to local youth

EMU teamed with GameAbove, the Ypsilanti District Libraries and various corporate partners and organizations to expand K-12 STEM programming this summer. As part of the collaboration, 500 hands-on STEM activity kits were distributed to youth in Washtenaw County over a five-week period. GameAbove funded the development of the kits. 

Bia Hamed, director of K-12 STEM Outreach, told EMU Today, “We want to expose as many young people as possible in Michigan and beyond to STEM career opportunities because we know that they’re some of the most valuable and abundant career options out there -- and we don’t see that demand slowing down.

The kits were distributed through the Ypsilanti District Library Summer Challenge Champions program, which runs each summer, and serves under-resourced students to make it easy for them to participate in the YDL Summer Learning Challenge as a group.

Contributing partners included GameAbove, Dominos, FordLabs, GE and the EMU Construction Management Alumni group, which delivered the kits on Friday, July 16, officially kicking off the initiative. The kits included projects on mobility, energy, and engineering and construction.

“We are excited to be part of this important initiative for our community,” said Jeff Bourdon, GameAbove EMU Advisory board member. “Our hope is that these activity kits will help to inspire the students and lead some to a career in STEM. We are honored to be working with EMU and Ypsilanti District Libraries to bring this program to so many students.”

To learn more about the project and see photos of some of the items delivered, read the story on EMU Today.

Aviation program adds new flight simulator

Students in the aviation program will now have access to valuable hands-on flight experience with the addition of a new Frasca RTD DA40-180 aviation flight simulator. The simulator can be configured to simulate the Diamond DA 40, which is Eastern’s primary aircraft for instrument flight training, or the Piper Seneca, which is currently used for twin-engine training. 

Assistant Professor Jerard Delany told EMU Today, “This is a tremendous addition to EMU’s aviation program that gives our students the ability to save time and money on their training. This simulator will provide students with additional hands-on experience that will help them achieve their flight hours in a timely manner so that they can graduate on time and begin their careers as the next generation of aviation professionals.” Read more about the new flight simulator in EMU Today.

EMU Police Department hosts annual bike rodeo

Tomorrow, Saturday, August 7, the Eastern Michigan University Police Department will host its annual bike safety Bike Rodeo event. The Bike Rodeo, which is free and open to the public, will take place from 9 a.m. to 12 p.m. at the EMU Convocation Center, located at 799 N Hewitt Rd in Ypsilanti. The event will include free bike safety checks (mechanical check and helmet fitting information), free helmets donated by 

Swoop’s Food Pantry Schedule

Shoppers are invited to come in person anytime during open hours (see website for current open hours), or they may choose to complete an Online Shopping Request Form where items will be packed by staff for shoppers to pick up at a designated time. Visitors to Swoop’s can enter through the main entrance on the north side of Pierce Hall near the elevator. Swoop’s requires any student who has not used the pantry this year to complete the Swoop's Food Pantry Intake Form.

EMU Olympian competes in triple jump

Former Eastern Michigan University standout Donald Scott completed his Olympic run in the men's triple jump final Wednesday night (Aug. 4). It was great to watch his performance and listen to the announcers acknowledge his affiliation with Eastern Michigan. Scott finished seventh overall with his longest jump of 17.18m, which was second among Team USA members. Pichardo Pedro Pablo of Portugal won the gold medal in this event.

Scott, an eight-time Mid-American Conference Champion while at Eastern, will continue to train in hopes of becoming an Olympian once again at the 2024 Summer Olympics in Paris, France.

Looking Ahead

I hope you enjoy reading this great news about our University and I thank everyone who plays a part in the programs and events highlighted.

We are working hard to prepare for a safe fall semester and are excited to welcome our students, faculty, staff and guests back for a full on-campus experience when classes begin on August 30.

As I noted earlier, please continue to monitor your campus email for additional updates as we prepare for the semester.

James Smith, Ph.D.