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FAQs: Face Coverings

What is a face covering?

Face coverings are masks that reduce the quantity and velocity of respiratory droplets emitted by the wearer when breathing, talking, or coughing.

A face covering must:

  • Cover both the nose and mouth of the wearer
  • Fit snugly but comfortably against the side of the face
  • Be secured with ties or ear loops
  • Include multiple layers of fabric
  • Allow for breathing without restriction
  • If not disposable, then be able to be laundered and machine-dried without damage or change to shape.

Additional guidance for selecting, wearing, and washing face coverings is provided by the CDC’s Use of Cloth Face Coverings to Slow the Spread of COVID19.

What are the requirements for wearing a face covering?
When do I need to have a face covering with me? When do I need to wear one?

All individuals age 10 and older must have a face covering when on campus at all times (except those granted an accommodation from the policy due to a disability, as outlined in University Policy 1415.

Unless an exception applies, wear face coverings when:

  • Inside a Mason-owned or controlled indoor space such as a room, lab, building, hallway, or vehicle.
  • Outside on university property in situations where it is not possible to consistently physical distance from other individuals more than 6 feet.
  • At all events or other gatherings of individuals organized by a Mason department, student organization, or external entity. 
What are the exceptions to the requirement to wear a face covering?

Exceptions are detailed in University Policy 1415. They include if you are:

  • Eating or drinking.
  • Communicating with a person who is deaf or hard of hearing.
  • An individual with a disability that prevents wearing a face covering and have received an accommodation from the appropriate university office.
  • Experiencing significant trouble breathing, or is unconscious or incapacitated.
  • Need medical services.
  • In a a residential space with no guests.
  • Alone in a private, enclosed space.
  • Swimming or participating in other water-based athletic activities.
How will Mason ensure compliance?

Compliance will be handled like any other university policy, standard, or guideline. A person refusing or failing to comply with the face covering policy might be asked to leave and be subject to disciplinary action.

Will Mason provide face coverings?

The university will provide two reusable face coverings to students, faculty and staff. Individuals may use their own face coverings, provided they meet requirements.

I have a disability that may prohibit me from using a face covering. What should I do?

Speak to the appropriate office to request an accommodation.

Those offices will work with you to seek an accommodation.

If I am wearing a face covering, do I also need to engage in physical/social distancing?

Yes, maintain 6 feet of distance even if you're wearing a face covering. 

Are face coverings required while riding a Mason Shuttle?

Yes, even if no one else is aboard. It will decrease respiratory secretions on surfaces within the Mason Shuttle.

Are face coverings required while in a university vehicle or golf cart? What if I'm in my own car on Mason business?
Do I need to wear a face covering in my office? What if other people come in?

You are not required to wear a face covering when alone. However, when other people join you, everyone must wear a face covering.

Do I have to wear a face covering when I exercise outside? What about inside?

If you're exercising outdoors on campus (for instance, walking, hiking, biking, running), you don't have to wear a face covering,as long as you maintain 6 feet of distance from others. But you must have a face covering with you and readily accessible.

Face coverings must be worn at all times while in a campus building, including recreation and fitness centers. The only exception is when swimming or engaging in other water-based recreational or athletic activities.

What if I attend an on-campus event in person? What about an off-campus event?

Face coverings must be worn at all events or other gatherings of individuals organized by a university department, student organization, or external entity, regardless of whether physical distancing practices are also being followed.

This policy also applies to off-campus events or gatherings organized by a Mason department or student organization, and we encourage you to wear a face covering at off-campus events or gatherings organized by others.

What should I do when working for the university off campus?

When you are off-campus and not at an event or gathering organized by a Mason department or student organization, follow the locale’s requirements for face coverings.

What should I do if someone isn't wearing a face covering?

Maintain at least 6 feet of distance from that person.  Keep in mind that some people on campus may not be wearing a face covering because of a disability.

What should instructors do if a student in their classroom is not wearing a face covering?

Check to see if the student has received an accommodation from Disability Services (ODS) from the requirement to wear a face covering.  If they have received an accommodation, they will have a faculty contact sheet from ODS (or ODS will have sent it to the faculty member in advance) that states they have received an accommodation and what it entails (e.g., wearing a face shield).  If the student has an accommodation they must comply with the requirements of the accommodation (e.g., if the accommodation is that they can wear a face shield instead of a face covering, they must be wearing the face shield). 

If the student does not have an approved accommodation from ODS (as demonstrated by a faculty contact sheet) and asserts that they need an accommodation, the faculty member should refer the student to ODS for assistance and should ask the student to either put on a face covering or leave the class until they have received an accommodation from ODS. 

If the student does not have an accommodation and does not assert that they need an accommodation, the student must comply with policy and wear a face covering in class. 

If the student refuses to comply, you may tell them they must leave the class. 

If the student refuses to comply, you may report them to the Office of Student Conduct as you would any other student who is failing to comply with university policy or is being disruptive in a classroom.

If a student is exempted from wearing a face covering, what is the protocol if the instructor or other students are uncomfortable?

If a student has received an approved accommodation from the Office of Disability Serbices, the accommodation must be honored. We cannot discriminate against a student who has received an accommodation.

It is highly unlikely that a student will be given an accommodation from the face covering requirement such that they are in class without any COVID-19 precautions. Most students with accommodations will be required to use some other precaution such as a face shield or other barrier. 

The instructor should be informed in advance of the class, through a faculty contact sheet, that a student in their class has an accommodation from the face covering requirement.

If the instructor has any questions or concerns, they should contact ODS to discuss the accommodation. 

If a classmate is uncomfortable being in a class with a student who has received an accommodation from the face covering requirement, that student has the option of dropping the class. 

Do students who live in university housing need to wear a face covering when they are in their assigned rooms?

You don't have to wear a face covering in your assigned space if you're alone or with your assigned roommate, if you have one.

Do students who live in University housing need to wear a face covering when they are in common spaces within residence halls?

Yes, you must wear a face covering in such areas as hallways, common rooms, and any communal/hallway bathroom.  The only exception is when engaging in personal hygiene or grooming activities in a communal bathroom.