Face Coverings Guidance

Effective June 18, 2020, all people in California are required to wear face coverings in high risk situations. Therefore, faculty, staff, students, contractors, visitors, and vendors on campus must wear masks (Note: masks with exhaust valves are not allowed) or fabric face coverings when in university buildings, except when alone in a private office or in a designated breakroom while actively eating or drinking. Additionally, face coverings are required in outdoor public spaces on campus if a minimum distance of six feet (two meters) cannot be maintained between people of different households. Face coverings are also required if the door(s) of private offices are not fully latched and closed.

It is important to note that this guidance does not replace or substitute public health measures (i.e. social distance of 6 feet or more, frequent hand hygiene, respiratory etiquette, refraining from touching any part of face with contaminated hands, and staying home when sick).

Permitted Masks/Face Coverings For General Public

Green check mark

Do choose masks that:

  • Have two or more layers of washable, breathable fabric
  • Completely cover your nose and mouth
  • Fit snugly against the sides of your face and don’t have gaps

 

Red X

Do Not choose masks that:

  • Are made of fabric that makes it hard to breathe, for example, vinyl
  • Have exhalation valves or vents, which allow virus particles to escape
  • Are intended for healthcare workers, including N95 respirators or surgical masks

Special Situations: Glasses

If you wear glasses, find a mask that fits closely over your nose or one that has a nose wire to limit fogging

  • Woman wearing cloth face mask

    Cloth Mask or Face Covering

    Cloth masks are used to cover the nose and mouth, tied behind the head, or secured over the ears with elastic loops. Multiple layers of fabric create a barrier between your nose and mouth and the outside, helping contain any respiratory droplets that you may breathe out. These masks help slow the spread of the coronavirus that causes COVID-19 and help keep people who unknowingly have the virus from transmitting it to others.

    Thick, densely woven cotton or multiple layers of fabric (e.g. natural silk, linen) are good materials for cloth masks.

  • neoprene masks

    Neoprene Masks

    Neoprene masks are typically designed for sports use where wind and thermal protection is desired. Because the material is thick, it can prevent the spread of droplets from the mouth and nose, depending on mask design. Neoprene fabrics are washable and reusable. Masks should be washed before reuse.

  • surgical mask

    Surgical Masks

    These are loose-fitting masks designed to cover the mouth and nose. Although they are not close fitting, surgical masks are fluid resistant and provide some protection from larger respiratory droplets from coughs and sneezes. However, surgical masks are not designed to protect against smaller droplets, such as SARS-CoV-2, which is responsible for COVID-19.

    Primarily, surgical masks help prevent the wearer from spreading infectious droplets to others. Surgical masks are often made of a combination of paper and plastics, and commonly light blue in color. Unlike fabric face coverings, surgical masks cannot be washed and reused.

    Like N95 respirators, these masks are used by health care workers whose safety depends on an adequate supply.

  • KN95 mask

    KN95 Masks (China)

    China’s KN95 masks are advertised and intended to have filter efficiency of 95% or more. However, the National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health (NIOSH) has learned that many legitimate manufacturers in China have been counterfeited. Some masks with legitimate manufacturer names, showing poor filter penetration results (≤95%), are counterfeit products. NIOSH urges purchasers of masks and respirators that may have questions about the authenticity of these products to contact directly the manufacturers and others in the supply chain as needed to verify that they are obtaining legitimate products.

    KN95s tend to have ear loop design which separates them from NIOSH-approved N95s. Currently, there are no NIOSH-approved products with ear loops; NIOSH-approved N95s have head bands. Furthermore, limited assessment of ear loop designs indicate difficulty achieving a good seal with the face.

    Nevertheless, KN95 masks can be used for non-medical purpose (i.e. personal use) as long as their legitimacy is verified and cover nose and mouth. Wearers of KN95s must know that these masks are meant for one-time use only, and cannot be washed and reused.

  • kf94 mask

    KF94 Masks (South Korea)

    South Korea’s KF94 masks are equivalent to N95 respirators. Like KN95s, KF94s tend to have ear loop design which separates them from NIOSH-approved N95s. Currently, there are no NIOSH-approved products with ear loops; NIOSH-approved N95s have head bands. Furthermore, limited assessment of ear loop designs indicate difficulty achieving a good seal with the face.

    Nevertheless, KF94 masks can be used for non-medical purpose (i.e. personal use) as long as their legitimacy is verified and cover nose and mouth. Wearers of KF94s must know that these masks are meant for one-time use only, and cannot be washed and reused.

Persons exempted from wearing face coverings

  • Persons younger than two years old.
  • Persons with a medical condition, mental health condition, or a disability that prevents wearing a face covering. This includes:
    • Persons with a medical condition for whom wearing a face covering could obstruct breathing or who are unconscious, incapacitated, or otherwise unable to remove a face covering without assistance.
    • Persons who are hearing impaired, or communicating with a person who is hearing impaired, where the ability to see the mouth is essential for communication.
    • Persons for whom wearing a face covering would create a risk to the person related to their work, as determined by local, state, or federal regulators or workplace safety guidelines.
    • Persons who are seated in cafeteria that offers eat-in food or beverage service, while they are eating or drinking, provided that they are able to maintain a distance of at least six feet (two meters) away from persons who are not members of the same household.
    • Persons who are engaged in outdoor work or recreation such as swimming, walking, hiking, bicycling, or running, when alone or with household members, and when they are able to maintain a distance of at least six feet (two meters) from others.

Note: Employees requesting an accommodation will need to submit a request for accommodation to humanresources@soka.edu. There will be an interactive process that will determine if an accommodation is able to be made.

Dos and Don’ts of Wearing Masks

How to wear a mask illustration
Video: How to wear a fabric mask safely
American Sign interpreter
Video: Mask Dos and Don'ts - American Sign Language (ASL)

Enforcement

  • The university will post signage clearly stating face covering requirements, including access to services for faculty, staff, and students.
  • It is prohibited for any individual to be denied or restricted access or participation based on not wearing a face covering, if the individual states that they are aware of, and that they meet an exemption to, this policy.
  • Enforcement procedures for employees will comply with applicable SUA policies and procedures.
  • Student Affairs is responsible for developing and implementing enforcement procedures for students.
  • If you come across someone you believe might not be properly following the university’s COVID-19 Prevention Plan policies (e.g., face coverings, physical distancing, etc.), fill out COVID-19 Hazard Alert Form to let the COVID-19 Project Manager know.

What Should I Do If Someone Is Not Wearing A Face Covering?

Knowing the university policy is only the beginning of the process. Taking action through our behavior is how we truly safeguard ourselves, our community, and achieve results to prevent the spread of COVID-19 as well as other illnesses.

Here’s what you can do to contribute to our prevention efforts and abide by the face-covering policy:

  • Comply with the requirement by covering nose and mouth with an approved face covering – a face mask (without an exhalation valve) or a cloth face covering. Encourage others to do the same with kindness, respect, and positive reinforcement.
  • Request a face covering through Human Resources (HR).
  • Plan for your response should you encounter someone without a mask. Here are some suggestions:
    • Lead with inquiry and curiosity rather than assertion and judgment. “Have you heard that university now requires face coverings on campus?”
    • Kindly share your expectations. “Do you have a mask with you that you can wear while we are working near each other?”
    • Provide information and a respectful reminder of the regulation. “Our university’s COVID-19 Prevention Plan has helpful information about the face covering requirements and you can also obtain a face covering from HR.”
    • Assume positive intent. Your responsibility is to ensure your own compliance and reinforce expectations with others. As a coworker or bystander, it is not your role or responsibility to enforce the policy.

Employees not wearing face coverings

  • If an employee does not put on a face covering when requested, follow up with your supervisor, and respectfully direct the person to their supervisor for more information.
  • Engagement between individuals about the face covering requirement should always align with our respectful workplace standards. It is never acceptable to harass, use a raised voice, physically touch, or otherwise engage in aggressive or disruptive communication or behavior towards other individuals.
  • End conversations before they escalate and reach out to your supervisor for assistance and support.
  • Employees may also share concerns about the face-covering regulation using the COVID-19 Hazard Alert Form.

Students not wearing face coverings

  • If the student does not put on a face covering when requested, gently explain the face covering requirements. If the student continues not to follow the face covering requirement, share concerns using COVID-19 Hazard Alert Form.

Vendors and contractors not wearing face coverings

  • If the visitor or contractor does not put on a face mask when requested, gently remind them that face coverings are required in all campus locations as well as in outdoor public spaces of the university when a physical distance of 6 feet (2 meters) cannot be maintained. If the visitor or contractor refuses to follow the face covering requirements, contact Public Safety or share concerns using COVID-19 Hazard Alert Form.

Additional Information

  • These requirements may be amended if conditions change or guidance from public health authorities evolves. This may include local or state-level laws or guidance related to business practices.
  • The university will provide employees alternatives to face coverings if such alternatives are required. Employees must obtain approval from HR on these requests and students must obtain approval through Student Affairs.
  • It is the responsibility of the individual to handle and launder their face coverings following public health guidelines.
  • Individuals who engage in harassing, discriminatory, bullying, or retaliatory behavior towards others because they are or are not wearing a face covering may be subject to disciplinary action under applicable university policies.
  • The university has established a point of contact for members of the campus community to report concerns about people not complying with this policy: COVID-19 Hazard Alert Form. Employees can also raise concerns with their supervisors. Enforcement should always focus on education first.

Additional Resources