University Policy: 04-041 Face Covering in Public and Common Settings During Response to COVID-19 Pandemic
Policy Category: Governance and Administration
Responsible Office: Provost's Office
Responsible Executive: Provost
Download the Policy: (PDF)
Effective Date: 06/14/2020
Last Revised: 10/22/2020
1. Policy Statement

1.1. In response to the COVID-19 pandemic, in alignment with the Oregon Governor’s executive orders, and consistent with guidance from the Oregon Health Authority (“OHA”) and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (“CDC”), Oregon State University (“university”) issued its face covering policy on June 3, 2020. It applies to all OSU locations and serves the university’s goal to help reduce the risk and spread of COVID-19. This university policy was last updated on October 22, 2020 and may be revised subsequently to align with federal, state, and local guidance as the public health response evolves.

1.2. OSU requires faculty, staff, students, contractors, volunteers, and visitors across all OSU locations to use face coverings, which include masks, or cloth face coverings, when in enclosed public and common areas on campus and outdoor areas where physical distancing is not easily maintained. Face coverings must fully cover the nose and mouth. Face coverings that incorporate a valve to facilitate easy exhalation, mesh masks, lace masks, or other coverings with openings, holes, visible gaps in the design, material or vents are not in compliance with this policy. Masks and cloth face coverings should be worn in combination with other measures, such as strict physical distancing and proper hand washing.

1.3. Due to the potential of aerosolized transmission of the virus, OSU is not permitting the use of face shields as an alternative to wearing a face mask or cloth face covering. Students believing they need an accommodation should speak with Disability Access Services. Employees believing they need an accommodation should connect with Equal Opportunity & Access.

1.4. When used with standard distancing and hygiene measures, masks and cloth face coverings serve as a central public health measure to reduce the spread of infection across all university settings. Face coverings are particularly important in spaces where physical distancing may be difficult, or when working in enclosed spaces shared by other people, with the exception of immediate family or household members (e.g., partner, child, parents, or roommates).

1.5. "Masks" reference medical-grade paper masks commonly used in clinical settings. Given national shortages, these are largely preserved for medical workers, first responders, and other high-risk settings to protect critical workers.

1.6. While cloth face coverings will not provide full protection for individuals wearing them, those that cover the nose and mouth in ways consistent with health authority guidelines will help prevent the spread of the virus in the community when used in combination with physical distancing(see University Policy 04-040 Physical Distancing During COVID-19 Pandemic) and proper hand washing. 

1.7. Section 5 describes general guidelines meant to further articulate the practical application of this policy. Specific circumstances will determine where and when face coverings are warranted.

2. Reason for Policy

2.1. This university policy is issued to contribute to the health and safety of the OSU community during the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic, and to align with federal and state regulations, executive orders, and guidance. 

3. Scope & Audience

3.1. This university policy applies to all OSU employees, students, contractors, volunteers, visitors, and community members.

4. Definitions

4.1. Face coverings: For the purposes of this policy, a face covering is an item affixed to the face to help prevent the spread of the COVID-19 virus, including cloth garments that cover the nose and mouth and medical-grade masks. This definition and policy excludes face coverings that incorporate a valve to facilitate easy exhalation, mesh masks, lace masks, or other coverings with openings, holes, or visible gaps in the design, material or vents.

4.2. Face shields: A clear plastic shield that covers the forehead, extends below the chin, and wraps around the sides of the face.

5. Responsibilities & Procedures

5.1. University settings that will require the use of face coverings

5.1.1. Common and shared spaces within university-owned and leased buildings that are not private individual workspaces.

5.1.2. Private individual work spaces when more than one person is present;

5.1.3. In-person classroom settings;

5.1.4. Student health and counseling centers; 

5.1.5. Shared lab spaces, including computer labs;

5.1.6. Dining centers, coffee shops, restaurants, and retail stores;

5.1.7. High-density shared outdoor spaces (e.g., MU Quad, Valley Library Quad, etc.);

5.1.8. Day camps (as warranted, by age categories);

5.1.9. University mass transit or motorpool vehicles with more than one occupant; and,

5.1.10. Other spaces as designated by the Coronavirus Response Coordinator.

5.2. Exceptions to the use of face coverings

5.2.1. Exceptions to this university policy include:

a. Use goes against documented industry best practices for a specific position, or by law or regulation, including the use of standard personal protective equipment (“PPE”) per Occupational Safety and Health Administration standards;

b. When working alone in a private individual workspace that is not shared by others;

c. When exercising and working outdoors as long as a distance of at least six (6) feet is maintained at all times;

d. When engaging in an activity that makes wearing a face covering not feasible, such as swimming, eating or drinking;

e. When an individual is under the age of five;

f. In situations where face coverings for minors are advised against and not required for participation in youth activities, as per OHA Guidance for School Aged Summertime Day Camps or Specific Guidance for Child Care Sector; or,

g. Where space can be designed to provide for adequate barriers. 

5.2.2. Exception requests based on accommodation for a disability may be directed to the Office of Equal Opportunity and Access for employees, and Disability Access Services for students. 

5.2.3. Additional exceptions may be issued on a case-by-case basis by the Coronavirus Response Coordinator, or designee. 

5.3. Enforcement

5.3.1. Individuals who refuse or are unable to wear a face covering in designated university spaces may be referred to remote-only service.

5.3.2. The university will post signage clearly stating face covering requirements, including access to services for faculty, staff, students, and visitors. The university will make face coverings available to those who do not have one. 

5.4. Additional Information 

5.4.1. OSU's policy will and may be amended if regulatory conditions change or guidance from health authorities evolves. This may include local or state-level laws or guidance related to business practices (e.g., food service, childcare, etc.).

5.4.2. OSU may transition from a requirement to a recommended use of cloth face coverings based on local conditions and guidance from the CDC, OHA, and local health authorities.

5.4.3. OSU will continue to follow OSHA and industry guidance related to workplace safety (e.g., safe clean protocols for custodial workers, or face coverings indicated for food services workers).

5.4.4. Individuals who engage in harassing, discriminatory, bullying, or retaliatory behavior may be subject to investigation and sanction under other applicable OSU policies.

6. Forms & Tools

6.1. None.

7. Frequently Asked Questions

7.1. COVID-19 FAQs:

8. Related Information

8.1. OSU COVID-19 Resources and Updates:

8.2. University Policy 04-040 Physical Distancing During the COVID-19 Pandemic:

8.3. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention guidance on wearing cloth face coverings: 

9. History

9.1. Original issue date: June 3, 2020; effective June 14, 2020.

9.2. Housekeeping edits: June 17, 2020.

9.3. Amended: October 22, 2020.

9.4. Last review date: October 22, 2020.

9.5. Next scheduled review date: June 3, 2021. 

10. Website

10.1. University Policy 04-041 Face Covering in Public and Common Settings During Response to COVID-19 Pandemic:

11. Contacts

Vice Provost for Student Affairs and Coronavirus Response Coordinator