WMU creates ‘COVID-19 Task Force’ in response to coronavirus threat

WMU's Sindecuse Health Center.

Face coverings are required for students, staff, faculty and visitors for the fall semester, according to WMU’s Safe Return Plan. This new policy addresses when masks must be worn while on campus.

“In the wake of the COVID-19 Pandemic, health organizations, including the Center for Disease Control (CDC), recommend that individuals wear a facial covering (mask) in certain settings,” the policy reads. “The CDC currently recommends wearing cloth face coverings in public settings where other social distancing measures are difficult to maintain, especially in areas of significant community-based transmission.”

Gov. Gretchen Whitmer also signed an executive order July 10 that made masks in all indoor public places and crowded outdoor places to be worn.

The policy addressed the definition of a facial covering or mask. It said that this is a cloth or fabric material that covers a person’s mouth or nose. N95 masks and other clinical masks are also acceptable. Face shields or other coverings that don’t fit against the face do not meet this definition.

Each student and employee will be provided two cloth masks. Additional masks are the responsibility of the individual and will be available for purchase on the campus.

It also mentioned that the responsibility of supervisors and classroom instructors to monitor compliance with the policy. It said that supervisors and instructors should ask anyone not wearing a mask to comply with the campus policy and where the person might get a mask if they do not have one. 

Instructors are instructed to report violations for those who refuse to wear masks to the Office of Student Conduct (if a student), the Provost’s office (if faculty), or to Human Resources (if staff). If a visitor, any member of the WMU community who sees the violation should report it to the Department of Public Safety.  

The policy also mentioned that students, staff, and faculty who require others to use a clear mask should make the request. Student requests should be made to Disability Services for students and faculty or staff to the Office of Institutional Equity.

Some exceptions for mask usage are also mentioned in the policy. Individuals that suffer from medical conditions that prevent the use of masks should still maintain social distancing.

Exceptions are made for physical activities, athletic practices, athletic events or classes that require exercise. However, those should abide by the requirements of the facility the activity is occurring at.

Other exceptions include, activities that require the use of the mouth, when alone in an enclosed individual office, residence hall room or apartment, when communicating with someone who is hearing impaired, or when giving a speech for broadcast or an audience. This exception does not apply to regular classroom lectures.

“Failure to follow this Policy and any associated procedures may subject WMU employees to disciplinary action, up to and including dismissal from employment by the University, consistent with applicable procedures and Collective Bargaining Agreements and may subject students to discipline under the Student Code,” the policy reads.

The policy also mentioned that individuals should also maintain at least six feet from each other and use a mask when social distancing is not possible.

Signs will be placed on all university buildings indicating that masks are required, the policy added.

If the CDC and government officials change the requirements for the use of masks, the policy may be modified or rescinded.

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