USU has implemented a temporary policy that makes face coverings mandatory through spring semester for all campuses. The new policy builds upon the executive order Gov. Gary Herbert put into effect for state buildings and facilities.
Face coverings include cloth masks, scarves, gaiters, and bandanas that are worn over both the nose and mouth. Cloth face coverings should be laundered routinely. Disposable face masks should only be worn for one day before disposing.
Evidence Supporting the Use of Face Coverings
The best available science demonstrates that, if everyone wore face coverings, it would reduce the transmission rate of COVID-19. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention recommends everyone over the age of two wear a face covering when in public or interacting with those from different households.
Recent research shows that an individual sick with COVID-19 is infectious several days before they even develop symptoms, which could lead to significant transmission. There is also concern that many people who are infected with COVID-19 do not know they are ill. The CDC points to emerging evidence from clinical and laboratory studies that shows masks reduce the spray of droplets when worn over the nose and mouth. For this reason, wearing a face covering or mask that covers both the nose and mouth is one of the simplest and least expensive ways to stop the spread of COVID-19.
Face Coverings Are Required:
- Inside all university buildings.
- In USU vehicles when riding with others.
- Outside when it is difficult to stay 6 feet from others.
- Elevators, hallways, break rooms, and other common areas where social distancing may not be possible.
Face Coverings Are Not Required:
- In office areas occupied by a single individual or when an individual is surrounded by three walls that are higher than the individual's head. For employees, areas where face coverings must be worn should be included in the department operation plan.
- As a participant in recreation facilities when social distancing can be maintained.
- Outside when social distancing of at least 6 feet can be maintained.
- In break rooms or dining areas while eating, but maintain a 6-foot social distance.
Supervisors are expected to enforce USU's policy on face coverings with their direct reports. Concerning behavior or failure to comply with COVID-19 guidelines may be shared with the university to address with supervisors.
For students, the Office of Student Conduct enforces the health and safety conduct requirements outlined in the USU Student Code of Conduct. Behavior that is concerning may be reported to the Office of Student Conduct.
Frequently Asked Questions
When do I have to wear a face covering?
Face coverings must be worn by students, faculty, staff, and visitors, in USU buildings and facilities, as well as outside where social distancing measures (at least a 6-foot distance) are difficult to maintain. This includes USU vehicles and equipment when riding with individuals from other households.
What if I cannot wear a face covering or mask?
Some individuals may not be able to use a face covering due to medical conditions, including chronic respiratory conditions. If you are unable to wear a face covering, reach out to the appropriate office listed below to identify a reasonable accommodation, such as a specially designed face covering and remote learning or working.
Do I have to wear a face covering when I’m at my desk working?
Face coverings are not required by employees in these situations:
- While in a private office.
- While seated at a work desk, if that desk is enclosed by at least three walls that are higher than the individual’s head (whether standing or sitting).
- When in a break room eating lunch, as long as 6 feet of social distancing is maintained.
Do I have to wear a face covering if I have my own dedicated work area/office?
If you work in a private office alone or at a desk if it is enclosed by at least three walls that are higher than the individual’s head (whether standing or sitting), then no face covering is required. However, if you periodically have interactions with others or move to or through areas where others are present (e.g., hallways, restrooms, common areas, break rooms, conference rooms, etc.), you must have a face covering readily available to put on for these circumstances.
What are the requirements for face coverings in USU vehicles?
USU employees must wear face masks in USU vehicles or side-by-sides when traveling with others.
Do I have to wear a face mask outside?
Generally, if you work outside or are moving through an area that permits adequate social distancing from others, then no face covering is required. However, if you periodically have interactions with others or move to or through areas where others are present or likely to be present (e.g., sidewalks, university vehicles, restrooms, etc.), you must have a face covering readily available to put on for these circumstances.
Do I have to wear a face covering in a fitness facility like the Aggie Recreation Center or Fieldhouse?
Yes, in compliance with the statewide mask order, anyone in a state building, including USU recreation centers, must wear a mask.
What kind of face covering should I use?
Face coverings include cloth face masks, scarves, gaiters, or bandanas, which can be secured over the mouth and nose of an individual. Cloth masks can also be ordered through PDP. If your particular role requires personal protection equipment (PPE) or medical-grade protection, USU will provide the appropriate masks and equipment.
What should I do if I see someone at work without a face covering?
All employees should model expected behavior by wearing a face covering or mask when social distancing is difficult to maintain. You are encouraged to maintain a 6-foot distance from those from other households even if you are wearing a face covering.
You may encourage others to wear face coverings or provide face coverings for them if they are in situations where social distancing is difficult to maintain, but please understand that there may be legitimate reasons why someone is unable to wear a face covering. If you have concerns, you may talk with your supervisor.
Can a supervisor send me home if I refuse to wear a face covering at work?
Employees are expected to wear face coverings at work where social distancing measures (at least a 6-foot distance) are difficult to maintain. If an employee is unable to provide their own face covering, USU will provide one for them. Because not wearing a face covering when expected can pose a health and safety issue, supervisors can treat refusal to wear a mask as a performance/safety issue which can include sending an employee home if they unwilling to comply as well as other corrective action.
Certain areas such as Dining Services, Campus Recreation, daycare settings, and health care services are required to wear face coverings or other Personal Protective Equipment (PPE) in certain circumstances and could be sent home if the employee is unwilling or unable to comply with these safety requirements. If there are circumstances that require consultation with Risk Management or Human Resources, a supervisor has discretion to send an employee home with pay to give them time to determine the best course of action.
I am categorized as a high-risk individual or have someone in my home who is high-risk. Can I require others around me to wear a face covering?
Everyone inside university building should be wearing a face mask unless they are in a private office ortaking a meal break.
High-risk individuals, who have concerns about being exposed in the workplace, should continue to telework if their position permits. You may encourage others to wear face coverings or offer face coverings to them if they are in situations where social distancing is difficult to maintain, but understand there may be reasons why someone is unable to wear a face covering. You may also talk with your supervisor about any observed concerns or contact Human Resources if you have more questions.
The Utah Department of Health provides guidance on how to protect high-risk Individuals.
Can a face shield be worn instead of a face covering?
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention does not recommend the use of face shields in normal everyday activities as a substitute for cloth face coverings. There is not enough information still to know if face shields protect others from the spray of respiratory particles.
How will USU enforce this policy?
Students who do not wear a mask to in-person classes will be asked not to return to class unless they have a mask on, and lack of student compliance in not wearing face coverings will be addressed by Student Conduct.
Supervisors will enforce mask wearing by their employees.
Keep in mind, sometimes it’s difficult to determine if people are appropriately social distancing from the outside as it’s often not clear if people are a part of the same household. The best approach is to protect yourself by maintaining social distancing of at least 6 feet and continue to wear a face covering.
What if someone can’t wear a face covering due to a hearing impairment?
People who are deaf or hard of hearing—or those who care for or interact with a person who is hearing impaired—may be unable to wear cloth face coverings if they rely on lipreading to communicate. In this situation, an individual could use a clear face covering. If a clear face covering isn’t available, consider whether you can use written communication, closed captioning, or decrease background noise to make communication possible while wearing a cloth face covering that blocks your lips.