18 February 2022

MDHHS Withdraws Schools and Indoor Masking Advisory

Thursday, February 17, 2022, the Michigan Department of Health and Human Service (MDHHS) released updated masking guidance that withdrew its previous public health advisory recommending that masks be worn inside schools and other public places.  The Department attributed its decision to withdraw the masking advisory to the continuing decline of Covid-19 cases and hospitalizations in Michigan from their mid-January peak.

MDHHS continues to recommend that individuals wear masks in high-risk settings such as hospitals and long-term care facilities.

While MDHHS’s withdrawal of its masking advisory does not require any actions by employers, employers may wish to check with their local county health departments and then determine whether to update their own workplace policies.  Alternatively, employers are free to continue to require masks as they have in the past, or wait to see whether the federal Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) will change its own masking recommendations.  The CDC has indicated it is considering changes and may update its guidance as soon as next week.

Employers remain covered by OSHA’s general duty clause, which requires them to provide workplaces “free from recognized hazards that are causing or are likely to cause death or serious physical harm” to employees.  Any decisions employers make should be carefully considered in light of the risks posed by the employer’s workplace(s) and workforce.

If employers decide to make any changes to their masking policies, clearly communicating the reasons for the change to employees is essential.

If you have any questions, please contact your Miller Johnson attorney or one of the authors.