Face Coverings

Face Coverings

All University of Minnesota System faculty, staff, students and visitors, including contractors, service providers, vendors, and suppliers are required to wear face coverings. This protocol does not apply to children under the age of 2 years, anyone unable to remove a face covering without assistance, and anyone who cannot wear a face covering because of health, disability, or religious reasons. Individuals who cannot wear face coverings because of health or disability reasons should contact Disability Resources.

Physical distancing guidelines, as provided in the Sunrise Plan, are to be used in tandem with face coverings and other COVID-19 prevention practices. Guidelines include maintaining six feet of distance between you and others, avoiding group gatherings and confined areas, and avoiding use of other people’s equipment and workstations.

Why Face Coverings?

  • Scientific understanding of the transmission of COVID-19 has evolved, and we now know that wearing a simple face covering provides valuable, albeit imperfect, protection against the spread of COVID-19. As a result, face coverings are now required in most situations indoors.
  • Face coverings are a visual reminder that we must all take precautions to protect our own health and that of those around us. This is particularly true as individuals can carry COVID-19 with no apparent symptoms and face coverings reduce the chance that such asymptomatic carriers unknowingly infect others.

Acceptable Face Coverings

All face coverings must extend from the bridge of the nose to below the chin. N95 or surgical masks are not required nor should they be bought or worn by people outside of health care or other specialized settings, according to the Minnesota Department of Health

In accordance with the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), recommended face coverings can include:

The CDC recommends face coverings that:

  • Fit snugly but comfortably against the side of the face
  • Are secured with ties or ear loops
  • Include multiple layers of fabric
  • Allow for breathing without restriction
  • Can be laundered and machine-dried without damaging them or changing their shape.

University Health and Safety has guidelines for properly wearing cloth face coverings. The CDC also has information about face masks available online.

Face Coverings Indoors

Face coverings are not required under the following circumstances:

  • A room when only one individual is present. 
  • Indoor spaces where separate official guidance is posted.
  • When eating or drinking, but face coverings should be replaced as soon as possible afterward.
  • In your own residence hall or apartment room. Please note: they are still required in any common spaces (hallways, lounges, shared areas within bathrooms, etc.)
  • When unable to wear a face covering while exercising at the Sports and Health Center, as long as all other facility policies, rules, and guidelines are followed.
  • When alone in a motor vehicle.
  • An individual has a disability or medical condition that makes wearing a face covering difficult or impossible. Please contact Disability Resources (students and guests) or the Disability Resources Center/U Return (faculty and staff) to engage in the interactive process and explore reasonable accommodations.
  • An individual with a religious accommodation through Equal Opportunity and Affirmative Action.

Students

  • All University of Minnesota students are required to wear face coverings. This protocol does not apply to anyone unable to remove a face covering without assistance, and anyone who cannot wear a face covering because of health, disability, or religious reasons. Individuals who cannot wear face coverings because of health or disability reasons should contact Disability Resources
  • Students will receive two free, University-branded face masks and can pick up masks at locations around campus.
  • Face coverings are also required for outdoor settings on campus or other grounds if safe physical distancing and limited gathering requirements are not being observed. Where safe physical distancing and gathering practices are being observed, face coverings are strongly encouraged but not required.
  • You are not expected to wear a face covering while in your room or apartment. However, face coverings are required in common areas such as hallways, study spaces, lobbies, bathrooms, or dining facilities.
  • Face coverings are required indoors. 
  • Face coverings are required in outdoor settings on campus if safe physical distancing and limits on the size of gatherings are not being observed. Where safe physical distancing and small groups are in place, face coverings are strongly encouraged but not required.
  • If your roommates or neighbors refuse to wear a face covering and/or follow other public health recommendations:
    1. Talk to them about wearing a face covering from a caring, social enforcement approach. For example, you could say something like, “Hey, I know you aren’t wearing a mask, but remember we all agree to wear these to protect ourselves and each other. I’m feeling stress related to this. Would you be willing to wear a mask so that we can all be safe together?”
    2. If the person refuses to comply after you have asked them to wear a face covering, please seek a resident advisor or other UMD staff member to assist you with next steps.
    3. Please remember that some individuals may be unable to wear a face covering because of health, disability, or religious reasons.
  • Face coverings are required when you are in dining facilities except while eating and drinking. Regardless, physical distancing must be observed.

Faculty and Staff

  • All University of Minnesota System faculty and staff, including contractors, are required to wear face coverings. This protocol does not apply to anyone unable to remove a face covering without assistance, and anyone who cannot wear a face covering because of health, disability, or religious reasons. Individuals who cannot wear face coverings because of health or disability reasons should contact Disability Resources.
  • If a faculty or staff member refuses to wear a face covering, their supervisor should first support the individual’s ability to cooperate with face covering guidelines through education/coaching and problem solving, such as explaining the benefits of face coverings, and providing a mask to an employee who has forgotten a face covering or was unable to purchase one. If staff or faculty continue to refuse, supervisors must deal with this as a safety or conduct issue. 
  • Masks have been distributed to faculty and staff through the mail.
  • You do not need to explicitly state that face coverings are required in your syllabus. However, you may want to reiterate that you expect students to comply with all University public health policies, including the wearing of face coverings. 
  • Face coverings are not required when you are working in your office/lab/workspace alone, as long as you are confident that the space will not be occupied by others while you are there or very shortly after your departure.
  • You may set the policy in your lab or research space for face coverings, but it must be consistent with the guidelines outlined here, i.e., indoor face covering usage is required unless the space is clearly occupied by only a single individual.

A student is not wearing a face covering, or a student has a face covering that is not sufficient. What should I do?

The Office of Student Conduct and Conflict resolution is available to consult in the event a student is not wearing a mask. 

  1. Talk with the student to apprise them of their available options to comply with the face covering directive, pursue a disability-related accommodation or pursue a religiously-affiliated accommodation.
    1. If the student wishes to pursue a disability-related accommodation, ask them to leave and direct them to Disability Resources, who will engage the student in the interactive process and identify reasonable accommodations. 
    2. If the student wishes to pursue a religious accommodation, ask them to leave class and direct them to Annalisa Peterson, UMD’s Equal Opportunity and Affirmative Action Associate.
  2. There may be instances in which a student forgets to wear their face covering more than one time. It is up to your professional discretion to determine if the student is unwilling to comply or simply forgot and needs a subsequent reminder. At any point, you are encouraged to have an educational conversation if the student repeatedly forgets but willfully complies when reminded.
    1. If a second offense occurs, you may ask the student to leave the program, event, or your area and then submit a report to Student Conduct and Conflict Resolution.
    2. If subsequent offenses occur, report the behavior to the Office of Student Conduct and Conflict Resolution. If the information in the report suggests a possible violation of the Student Conduct Code, OSCCR will follow the procedures outlined. 

In class:

  • If the student does not want to pursue a disability-related or religious acommodation, ask the student to put on a face covering for class as part of upholding Teaching and Learning: Instructor and Student Responsibilities policy for a safe classroom environment: 
    • Sample language: "We are a community within close proximity of each other, working together to keep each other safe. Can you put your face covering on please? If you don't have one, here is one, but please remember for next class, ok?"
  • If the student refuses, the professor will ask the student to leave for the class session. 
  • Following the class session, the instructor will follow up with an email to the student reiterating expectations (including a reminder of the University face covering-wearing expectations, the Teaching and Learning: Instructor and Student Responsibilities, and the Student Conduct Code). The instructor will reiterate that in order for them to participate in class they need to wear a face covering unless they have worked with Disability Resources on accommodations. The instructor will also let the student know that if this happens again, the student will be asked to leave class and the instructor will submit a report to the Office of Student Conduct and Conflict Resolution

In a co-curricular educational program/event or an office:

  • If the student does not want to pursue the options in (a) or (b) above, ask the student to put on a face covering for a safe campus environment in support of the Face Coverings protocol for the University of Minnesota.
    • Sample language: "We are a community within close proximity of each other, working together to keep each other safe. Can you put your face covering on please? If you don't have one, here is one, but please remember for the next time?"
  • If the student refuses, you can ask the student to leave the program, the event, or your office.
  • Following the incident, you should follow up with an email to the student reiterating the face coverings requirement and that compliance is expected in the future. You should also let the student know that if this happens again, the student will be asked to leave and you will submit a report to Student Conduct and Conflict Resolution for review as a possible violation of the Student Conduct Code.

Someone in my program/event/office has shown up with a face covering that contains a message or symbol that is offensive or threatening. What can I do?

You have a few options. One is to engage your student -- ask them about the message and let them know that you find it offensive. If you feel uncomfortable having a conversation yourself, you can get help by filing a campus climate complaint here. Your complaint will be reviewed for any relevant policy violations and if there are none, the person you reported will still be notified of your concern and invited to discuss it.

A faculty or staff member that I supervise is not wearing a mask or other face covering. What should I do?

Meet with the individual one-on-one and have a private, respectful conversation in which you explain the face covering requirement. If the person has a religious exemption, medical condition, or disability that prevents them from wearing a face covering or they otherwise wish to seek accommodations, they should consult with their UMD human resources representative, Disability Resource Center/UReturn, or EOAA to explore potential alternatives. If there is no medical condition or disability, provide them with a mask and request that they start to wear it immediately.

My colleague or supervisor is not wearing a face 
covering. What should I do?

Politely ask that your coworker or supervisor wear a face covering. If they are not following the University’s direction, this can be immediately reported to your next-level supervisor, senior leader, or UMD Human Resources.

Accommodations

  • Employees or supervisors should contact their college or unit human resources representative about seeking accommodations to the mask requirement. HR representatives will contact the Disability Resource Center to explore potential accommodations.
  • UMD Disability Resources and is available to explore alternative accommodations for students and guests who cannot wear a face covering due to a disability or medical condition. The Disability Resource Center is available to help employees explore alternative accommodations.
  • We understand that a directive to wear a face covering may exacerbate implicit biases and existing stereotypes. All members of the University community should avoid stigmatizing others because they are wearing or not wearing face coverings. If you are experiencing discrimination or criticism based on your need for accommodations, please contact Annalisa Peterson, UMD’s EOAA Associate. 
  • Religious or other reasons for alternative accommodations are possible. Please discuss the need for alternative accommodations with a human resources representative or contact Annalisa Peterson, UMD’s EOAA Associate. 

Compliance

  • The University expects the University community to behave responsibly with respect for the health and safety of others. We are a community. We can help keep each other safe and we all need to be part of the solution. Staff and students should not attempt to directly enforce this directive but instead should share any concerns of suspected violations with their immediate supervisor or appropriate school official (for example Student Conduct and Conflict Resolution). 
  • In some instances, it may be appropriate to politely ask others to observe the face covering protocol. However, be careful to avoid stigmatizing other members of the community. Recognize that some members of our community may be exempt from the face coverings requirement or may be utilizing accommodations. Above all, be patient and kind with others as we work together to keep our campus community safe and healthy.
  • Student Conduct and Conflict Resolution offers resources for those who need assistance dealing with conflicts involving students on campus. Community members may request to pursue these resources in lieu of filing a formal student conduct complaint relevant to not following rules around wearing a face covering indoors, in the classroom. UMD Human Resources offers assistance for those who need assistance dealing with conflicts involving employees.