COVID-19 update

COVID-19 update

Effective Thursday June 1

‘Masking Optional’ Policy Effective June 1, 2023


Between April 2-7, 2023, First Unitarian Universalist Congregation of Ann Arbor (UUAA) members and friends were invited to respond to a survey requesting feedback on the possibility of changing UUAA’s current indoors ‘mandatory masking’ policy to ‘masking optional’. We want to thank the 255 respondents who so generously shared their feedback and input.

74% of the respondents indicated that moving to a masking optional approach would either be received positively or have little-to-no impact on them. 18% of respondents indicated that they would continue masking on-site at UUAA, if masking were to become optional. 10% of respondents were unsure whether optional masking would have an impact on them and/or their ability to participate in the life of UUAA. 8% of respondents indicated that a masking optional policy would have a negative impact on them and/or their ability to participate in the life of UUAA. To review a complete summary of the survey results, please click here.

Our team has been mindful from the outset of the pandemic that UUAA is a multi-generational and diverse community, with many different individual needs and preferences. Given that, our team has intentionally pursued a cautious approach to health safety at UUAA, while also keeping track of local health safety trends – with how day-to-day life in our region is actually moving.

Since early April, when our survey data was collected, most Michigan-based health care providers have announced that their practices are moving to a masking optional approach. (Please see: In addition, the federal declaration of a national health emergency is set to expire on May 11, 2023. These realities mean that most of us will be navigating masking optional settings on a regular basis in the months ahead.

Given our community”s feedback, as well as current local trends, UUAA’s health safety policy will become ‘masking optional’ effective June 1, 2023. This will apply equally to all in our community, irrespective of age or role.

At the same time, we want to strongly affirm the individual choice to mask for personal health reasons, and the ability to choose the settings, events, and manner in which one participates in the life of the community, based on personal health safety considerations. We ask that all congregants honor whatever decision others who are dear to us in community may choose to make.

In addition, we remind everyone that mutual compassion and care should be centered as staff and lay leaders organize specific UUAA activities, small group circles, and/or committee meetings. Providing UUAA members/friends with multiple modalities by which they can participate in activities and meetings remains strongly encouraged. We also ask that group/meeting leaders strive to demonstrate flexibility and inclusion; while officially UUAA’s policy will be ‘optional masking,’ any group or committee can decide on a higher standard of health safety for its specific activity/meeting, for the sake of inclusion. Such discernment will require ongoing, proactive check-ins with group/activity members to determine what might work best for all.

The COVID-19 Advisory Team, since March 2020, has served as a sounding board for UUAA groups/committees wishing feedback on health safety questions. However, with the end of the federal emergency, this Advisory Team will officially sunset as of UUAA’s congregational meeting on June 4, 2023. On.after June 3, health safety policy questions may be directed to UUAA Administrator Deb Markum ( or Senior Minister Rev. Manish Mishra-Marzetti (

It has been our honor and privilege to support our UUAA community through this pandemic. While the need for community-centered care and mutuality, which the pandemic underscored, has not vanished, we know that the deep wellsprings of love and mutual care that have guided, and continue to guide, our community these past few years will remain a source of collective strength in the time ahead.

Please continue to stay healthy, safe, and well.

With much love and care,

UUAA’s COVID-19 Advisory Team

Tom Reischl, Laura Bauman, Jim Marks, Deb Markum, Carter Smith, and Manish Mishra-Marzetti (with appreciation for Jim Lee, who recently rotated off the team)