Face Coverings Guidance
Face coverings (masks) are very important in curbing the spread of SARS-CoV-2 (Severe Acute Respiratory Syndrome-Coronavirus-2) that causes COVID-19 (Coronavirus disease 2019). Wearing a face covering protects you and others. At SUA unvaccinated persons are required to wear a face covering in all indoor public settings as well as in university vehicles. Additionally, face coverings are recommended for unvaccinated persons outdoors where six feet of physical distancing cannot be maintained.
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, where applicable, frequent hand hygiene, respiratory etiquette, refraining from touching any part of face with contaminated hands, and staying home when sick).
When selecting a face covering, there are many choices. Here are some do(s) and don’t(s):
Your Guide to Face Coverings
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
- Have a nose wire to prevent air from leaking out of the top of the mask
- In cold weather, wear your scarf, ski mask, or balaclava over your mask
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 NIOSH-approved N95 respirators
- In cold weather, scarves, ski masks and balaclavas are not substitutes for 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.
Recommended Face Coverings/Masks
- Medical procedure masks (sometimes referred to as surgical masks or disposable face masks)
- Masks that fit properly (snugly around the nose and chin with no large gaps around the sides of the face)
- Masks made with breathable fabric (such as cotton)
- Masks made with tightly woven fabric (i.e., fabrics that do not let light pass through when held up to a light source)
- Masks with two or three layers
- Masks with inner filter pockets
Face Coverings/Masks NOT Recommended
- Masks that do not fit properly (large gaps, too loose, or too tight)
- Masks made from materials that are hard to breathe through (such as plastic or leather)
- Masks with one layer
- Masks with exhalation valves or vents
- Wearing a scarf/ski mask
How to Improve Fit and Filtration of Masks
CDC now recommends mask wearers to improve fit and filtration of masks to reduce the spread of new COVID-19 variants, which spread more easily and quickly than the original virus.
- Choose a mask with a nose wire: Bend the nose wire/clip with your index fingers over your nose to fit close to your face.
- Use a mask fitter or brace over a disposable mask or a cloth mask to prevent air from leaking around the edges of the mask.
- Check that it fits snugly over your nose, mouth, and chin
- Check for gaps by cupping your hands around the outside edges of the mask.
- Make sure no air is flowing from the area near your eyes or from the sides of the mask.
- If the mask has a good fit, you will feel warm air come through the front of the mask and may be able to see the mask material move in and out with each breath.
- Add layers of material by:
- Using a cloth mask that has multiple layers of fabric, OR
- Wearing one disposable mask underneath a cloth mask. The second mask should push the edges of the inner mask against your face.
- Make sure you can see and breathe easily
- Knot and tuck ear loops of a 3-ply mask
- Knot the ear loops of a 3-ply face mask where they join the edge of the mask
- Fold and tuck the unneeded material under the edges
- Video tutorial: https://youtu.be/UANi8Cc71A0
- Do NOT combine two disposable masks as they are not designed to fit tightly and wearing more than one will not improve fit.
- Do NOT combine a KN95 mask with any other mask. Only use one KN95 mask at a time.
Persons exempted from wearing face coverings
- When alone in a room or a vehicle.
- 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.
Note: Employees requesting an accommodation will need to submit a request for accommodation to firstname.lastname@example.org. There will be an interactive process that will determine if an accommodation is able to be made.
Dos and Don’ts of Wearing Masks
- 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, etc.), fill out COVID-19 Hazard Alert Form to let Human Resources know.
Employees not wearing face coverings
- If an unvaccinated 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 an unvaccinated 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 an unvaccinated visitor or contractor does not put on a face mask when requested, gently remind them that face coverings are required for unvaccinated persons 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.
- Content in these guidelines 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.
- CDC: (a) Your Guide to Masks; (b) Guidance for Wearing Masks; (c) How to Store and Wash Masks; (d) Improve the Fit and Filtration of Masks
- University’s COVID-19 Prevention Plan
- Masks Work. Really. We’ll Show You How
- How NOT to Wear a Mask
- State of California’s Masks and Face Coverings
- California Dept of Public Health’s Guidance for the Use of Face Coverings
- Counterfeit Respirators/Misrepresentation of NIOSH-Approval
- Infographic: World Health Organization (WHO) do(s) and don’t(s) of face coverings
- US Department of Labor: (a) Putting on and Taking off a Mask and (b) Voluntary Use of Respirators
- FDA’s Personal Protective Equipment EUAs