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Face Covering Protocol

Updated January 12, 2022

All University of Minnesota faculty, staff, students, and visitors (including contractors, service providers, vendors, and suppliers) are required to wear a well-fitted face mask that covers the wearer’s nose and mouth, wraps under the chin, and does not have any noticeable gaps at all times when in any enclosed or indoor space on University campuses and properties (including leased facilities), regardless of vaccination status. While cloth masks are still acceptable to fulfill this requirement, we do recommend those be supplemented with a mask that offers greater protection such as KN95 or N95. 

Students will receive updates about mask distribution locations from student affairs leaders or campus vice chancellors. Faculty and staff may order enhanced masks from U Market Services through their departments.

You do not have to wear a mask in the following scenarios:

  • When eating or drinking, as long as individuals comply with any other posted restrictions.
  • When in one’s assigned residence hall room or apartment without any guests.
  • When alone in an office, private study area, or other space. Please note: Face masks are required when in open study spaces, including student centers and libraries.
  • When engaged in water-based activities or wet conditions that would result in the mask getting wet.
  • When alone in a motor vehicle or utility vehicle used for University business.
  • When the task requires and the law permits the use of a specific type of respirator approved by the National Institute for Occupational Safety & Health and the respirator is worn. Masks do not provide the same level of protection as respirators and should not replace any required personal protective equipment.
  • When teaching or lecturing in a University course at a distance of at least 6 feet from another individual. In this circumstance, instructors may use a University-approved alternative (e.g., face shield) in lieu of a well-fitted face mask, but only if a well-fitted face mask would unduly hamper classroom instruction.
  • Children under the age of 2 years or anyone unable to remove a well-fitted face mask without assistance.
  • When asked to remove the face mask by a school or law enforcement official to verify identity.
  • While receiving a service—including a dental examination or procedure, medical examination or procedure, or personal care service—that cannot be performed when a well-fitted mask is worn. 
  • When a public safety worker is actively engaged in a public safety role in situations where wearing a well-fitted face mask would seriously interfere with the performance of their public safety job duties.
  • When a well-fitted face mask cannot be worn while playing a musical instrument, provided the activity is carried out in accordance with a University Health and Safety approved plan.
  • In officially designated areas posted with different requirements approved by University Health and Safety for that specific area.
  • As permitted by an athletic facility or by team policies, procedures, or rules.
  • As otherwise approved by University Health and Safety.
  • When an accommodation is necessary as indicated by a medical or similar subject matter expert and granted by express written permission of the University.

This directive applies to all University campuses and all properties within the University’s Real Estate Inventory and University transportation services. Enclosed spaces include covered walkways, transit shelters, skyways, and tunnels and include spaces even where exterior doorways or windows are open.

When carrying out University activities in locations other than the University’s Real Estate Inventory or University transportation services, University faculty, staff, and students should comply with any applicable federal, state, local, or facility masking requirements. Well-fitted face masks are highly encouraged when conducting any University business regardless of location (e.g., off-site travel or training). 

University faculty, staff, and students should carry two well-fitted face masks with them at all times to account for the possibility a mask might be lost or spoiled.

University faculty, staff, and students are required to familiarize themselves with this protocol and follow it at all times. This Protocol and its directives shall remain in effect until further notice.


Well-fitted face mask means a CDC-recommended face mask. Other well-fitted face masks expressly approved by the University are acceptable. CDC recommends the following: surgical/medical procedure masks and other disposable masks and masks made with breathable fabric (such as cotton) with tightly woven fabric (that do not let light pass through when held up to a light source), masks with two or three layers, and masks with filter pockets. Masks can be flat, pleated, cone, dome, or duck bill in shape. A cloth mask may be worn over a disposable surgical or medical procedure mask. This technique is encouraged if it provides for a more snug mask fit. 

The face mask must not have an exhalation valve or vent (because these valves allow respiratory droplets to escape) and scarfs/ski masks or masks made from fabric that is loosely woven or knitted or have only one layer are not permitted.

Well-fitted means 

  • When worn, the  mask must extend from the bridge of the nose to below the chin. Masks equipped with a nose wire (a metal strip along the top of the mask) allow proper fitting over the nose or a mask fitter or brace can be worn with the mask to achieve the same effect. 
  • Fit snugly against the sides of the face with no gaps around the entire edge of the mask. Be secured to the head with ties or ear loops or headbands.

Information on how to improve how your mask protects you is available from the CDC. Instruction for properly caring for cloth face masks can be found in CDC’s How to Store and Wash Masks guidance and a general overview of masks and mask wearing is available on the University Health and Safety website as well.


The University expects all members of the University community to continue to do their part to protect the health and safety of others. Employees and students should not attempt to directly enforce this directive, but instead should share any concerns about others’ behavior with their supervisor or a school official.

Any employee, student, or visitor who fails to abide with this directive may be asked or directed to leave the campus space. Faculty, staff, and students who are directed to leave a campus space for failure to comply with these guidelines may be taken off duty and/or subject to disciplinary action. 

Requesting Accommodation

Individuals whose unique circumstances require an accommodation to the face covering protocol as indicated by a medical or similar subject matter professional, may request one. To do so, please contact the applicable disability services office or human resource representative on each campus:





Twin Cities

University Health and Safety has launched a Mask Support Program for faculty, staff and students. The program assists in selecting a well-fitted mask and provides instructions for use.