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Face Coverings Information

At the University of Minnesota, we know that wearing a simple face covering provides a valuable — albeit imperfect — defense against the spread of COVID-19. It is also a visual reminder that each member of our community must take precautions to protect our own health and the health of those around us.

The University of Minnesota requires all individuals on our campuses and inside our facilities to wear face coverings when physical distancing cannot be maintained. While there are limited exemptions detailed below and found in the full face covering protocol, most students, faculty, staff and visitors are expected to comply with University efforts to keep our community safe and comply with Minnesota Governor Tim Walz’s statewide mask mandate for all Minnesotans.

For students, faculty and staff who travel to businesses, take public transportation or go to other venues that are not on University property, please review information regarding the statewide mask mandate from the Minnesota Department of Health.

Face Coverings Protocol

Students

Who is required to wear a face covering

All students are required to wear a face covering while on University property while in public spaces indoors or while outdoors where a physical distance of six feet is difficult to maintain. Individuals who cannot wear face coverings because of health or disability reasons are exempted from this policy, but should contact the Disability Resource Center to explore alternative accommodations. Individuals who cannot remove face coverings without assistance are also exempted.

Indoor exemptions to face covering requirements

When indoors on University property, students and visitors are not required to wear a face covering in the following circumstances:

  • You are alone in a room.
  • Indoor spaces where separate, official guidance is posted.
  • In your own on-campus residence hall or apartment room. Face coverings are required in common spaces, such as hallways, bathrooms and dining spaces.
  • When exercising at an indoor Rec Well or Athletics facility, as long as all other facility policies, rules and guidelines are followed.
  • When alone in a motor vehicle. Parking and Transportation Services and MetroTransit require all individuals to wear a face covering while on public transportation.

Acceptable face coverings

Following guidance from the Minnesota Department of Health (MDH), the University allows for face coverings that include:

  • cloth masks;
  • scarves/bandanas;
  • disposable paper masks; and
  • face shield (if needed for accommodation). 

Please review Centers for Disease Control and Prevention guidance on mask fit and material, as well as information from University Health & Safety. Note that N95 and surgical masks should not be worn outside of health care or other specialized settings, including laboratory spaces, according to MDH.

Face covering availability

All incoming undergraduate students with a U.S. address will receive two masks via mail from Orientation & Transition Experiences prior to their arrival on campus. International students will receive at least one mask, mailed in late-August or early-September. All other students will receive masks through their department.

Specific situations on campus or near campus

There may be situations that arise where there could be questions about how the University’s face covering policy applies. Guidance in these situations are provided below.

  • Face coverings are required when you are in dining facilities and on-campus restaurants, except while eating and drinking. At all times, physical distancing must be observed.
  • When walking between classes while on University grounds, keep in mind that face coverings are required while outdoors if safe physical distancing cannot be maintained. When safe physical distancing can be observed, face coverings are strongly encouraged but not required.
  • While fraternity and sorority houses are private property and not on University grounds, students in these spaces must keep in mind guidance from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and requirements from the State of Minnesota Emergency Executive Order 20-81 when gathering. 

Faculty and Staff

Face covering policy

All staff and faculty are required to wear a face covering while on University property while in public spaces indoors or while outdoors where a physical distance of six feet is difficult to maintain. Individuals who cannot wear face coverings because of health or disability reasons are exempted from this policy, but should contact the Disability Resource Center to explore alternative accommodations. Individuals who cannot remove face coverings without assistance are also exempted.

When indoors on University property, students, faculty, staff and visitors are not required to wear a face covering in the following circumstances:

  • They are alone in a room, including offices and workspaces.
  • Indoor spaces where separate, official guidance is posted.
  • If a student is in their own on-campus residence hall or apartment room. Face coverings are required in common spaces, such as hallways, bathrooms and dining spaces.
  • When exercising at an indoor Rec Well or Athletics facility, as long as all other facility policies, rules and guidelines are followed.
  • When alone in a motor vehicle. Parking and Transportation Services and MetroTransit require all individuals to wear a face covering while on public transportation.
  • When in a child care facility, employees, students and children should follow guidance from MDH on face coverings in child care settings.

Faculty and researchers with their own research spaces may set their own protocols that exceed the University’s face covering policy. However, protocols for these spaces must meet the minimum standard set by University’s face covering policy. 

Acceptable face coverings

Following guidance from the Minnesota Department of Health (MDH), the University allows for face coverings that include:

  • cloth masks;
  • scarves/bandanas;
  • disposable paper masks; and
  • face shield (if needed for accommodation). 

Please review Centers for Disease Control and Prevention guidance on mask fit and material, as well as information from University Health & Safety. Note that N95 and surgical masks should not be worn outside of health care or other specialized settings, including laboratory spaces, according to MDH.

Faculty and staff will be provided masks through their college or unit. Campuses and units may order masks for faculty and staff from U Market Services (limit two per employee at no cost).

Wearing a face covering in class

In nearly all situations, instructors and students are required to wear a face covering during an in-person class. Faculty and instructors who wish to address a student who is not wearing a face covering should review and follow the steps outlined by the Office of the Executive Vice President and Provost.

Faculty and staff expectations

All University faculty and staff are expected to wear a face covering as directed when on campus whether working in a campus facility, or outside where physical distancing and gathering size limitations are not being observed.

Supervisors

If you supervise a faculty or staff member who is not wearing a mask, meet with the individual one-on-one for a private, respectful conversation.

  • If the person has a medical condition or disability that prevents them from wearing a face covering or they otherwise wish to seek accommodations, they should consult with their human resources representative or contact Disability Resource Center/UReturn 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. 
  • If the staff or faculty member has another reason, such as religious objection, they should contact Human Resources. Human Resources will work with them to determine what accommodations may be possible.

Colleagues

If your supervisor or colleague is not wearing a face covering, politely remind them to do so. If they are not following the University’s direction, report it immediately to your department manager, senior leader or Human Resources.