GRCC transitions to making face coverings optional as COVID-19 cases drop, calls for respect for those continuing to wear them

Student smiling, not wearing a mask.

Grand Rapids Community College is changing its campus face covering mandate, transitioning to a new phase of COVID-19 protocols allowing masks to be an option for students, employees and community members, a move in line with other employers and educators across the region.

“We are not declaring victory over COVID. Not yet,” GRCC President Bill Pink said. “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.”

Face covering dispensers will remain stocked and available on campus.

“There are many people who will choose to continue wearing face coverings, and it is important for us to respect their decisions, and the reasons behind them,” Pink said. “We have been resilient. We’ve shown each other grace and patience throughout this pandemic, and will continue to do so.”

The number of COVID-19 cases in Kent and Ottawa counties continues to fall. The Centers for Disease Control has adopted new metrics, and has moved the counties out of the high-risk category.

GRCC required face coverings in summer 2021 after the CDC added the counties to the high-risk category. Campus leaders said they would continue to follow data, and seek guidance from health authorities when considering face covering protocols. 

Masks will be required while riding public transportation, including the Sneden Shuttle bus route that connects the Main and DeVos campuses, following federal mandates.

Pink said the face coverings are just one tool in the college’s efforts to keep our campus community safe. Other changes set in place, such as distancing, increased air filtration, and plastic glass panels at some workstations, will remain. Classrooms will remain at 75 percent capacity through the end of the semester, and the college will continue offering classes in a variety of formats.

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