COVID- 19 Public Health and Safety Precautions – Face Coverings

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University Policy Number 1415


Responsible Office: ,

Policy Procedure:

Related Law & Policy:

I. Scope

This policy applies to all George Mason University (“Mason” or “University”) employees, students, volunteers, contractors, employees of contractors, visitors, and any other individual on University Property, who are 5 years and older.

II. Policy Statement

The University has established the following requirements for wearing Face Coverings.  Failure to comply with requirements of this policy may result in disciplinary action in accordance with relevant University policies.

1) All individuals, except those granted an accommodation from this policy as provided in #11 and 12, must have a Face Covering in their possession while on University Property.

2) All individuals in University Facilities (i.e. indoor or enclosed spaces) must wear a Face Covering, except as provided in #5.

3) All individuals outside on University Property in a situation where it is not possible to consistently Physically Distance more than six feet from other individuals must wear a Face Covering, except as provided in #5.

4) Face Coverings must be worn at all Events, except as provided in #5;

5) A Face Covering is not required in the following situations:

a. When eating or drinking;

b. When seeking to communicate with a person who is deaf or hard of hearing, for which the mouth needs to be visible and a clear Face Covering is not available;

c. When a person has received an accommodation from the appropriate University office (see #11 and 12) because of a disability that prevents the wearing of a Face Covering;

d. When a person is experiencing significant trouble breathing, or is unconscious or incapacitated;

e. When a person is in need of University or medical services, the Face Covering may be temporarily removed, if necessary to receive the services;

f. When in a resident’s assigned space with no guests (i.e. a student not assigned to the space) present and in communal residence hall bathrooms when engaging in personal grooming or hygiene activities;

g. When alone in a private, enclosed space (e.g., an individual’s office, private rehearsal space);

h. When swimming or engaging in other water-based recreational or athletic activities; and

i. When actively engaging in required skills instruction or intra-squad scrimmages as part of an approved and sanctioned Intercollegiate Athletics (“ICA”) team practice or when actively playing in an NCAA sanctioned athletic competition; and

j. When engaging in a performing art that requires the use of the mouth (e.g., playing a musical instrument or singing) as part of an academic program or sanctioned University group and in compliance with University protocols.

6) Face Coverings must cover both the mouth and the nose of the wearer. Face Coverings that feature an exhalation valve that allows for external air flow may not be worn.

7) Face Coverings must not be shared with others.

8) The university will provide two reusable Face Coverings to Mason students, faculty and staff. Individuals may elect to use their own face coverings provided they meet the requirements for Face Coverings stated below in the Definitions section and outlined by the CDC. Environmental Health & Safety will provide Face Coverings to units/departments after the Unit/Department Safety Plan has been submitted. University Life will oversee the distribution of Face Coverings for students. Units/Departments are not authorized to order Face Coverings directly from vendors unless part of the department’s existing medical/research-related activities.

9) Individuals on Mason’s property must maintain physical distance of at least six feet from any individual who is not wearing a Face Covering.

10) Faculty, staff, and students traveling to/from sites off University Property for work or study must wear a Face Covering if in a vehicle with other individuals. Once at the work or study site, individuals must comply with the locale’s requirements for wearing a Face Covering.

11) Faculty, staff, and volunteers who have a disability that may prohibit the use of Face Coverings should contact Human Resources and Payroll to work with Employee Relations ( or (703) 993-3878). Employees of contractors should work with their employer regarding accommodations.

12) Students who have a disability that may prohibit the use of Face Coverings should contact Disability Services ( or (703) 993 2474).

III. Definitions

Event:  Any gathering of individuals organized by a University department, student organization, or external entity.

Face Covering (Face Mask): The most common types of masks include the following. Additional information regarding types of face coverings can be found in Appendix A.

1. Cloth Face-Coverings: These can be purchased or made at home from cotton or other breathable and washable material. They are recommended by the Centers for Disease Control & Prevention (CDC) and the Virginia Department of Health primarily to slow the spread of COVID-19 by reducing spread of the virus from the wearer to others. They are not intended to provide protection from inhalation of small particles or virus aerosols. According to CDC guidance, an effective cloth face covering will:

  • Fit snugly but comfortably against the sides of the face;
  • Cover both the mouth and the nose of the wearer and secure under the chin.
  • Be secured with ties or ear loops;
  • Include multiple layers of fabric;
  • Allow for breathing without restriction; and
  • Be able to be laundered and machine-dried without damage or change to shape
  • More specific guidance can be found in the CDC’s Use of Cloth Face Coverings to Slow the Spread of COVID-19 guidance.

2. Disposable Face Masks: Loose fitting disposable masks made of three or more layers of filtering material and meeting the same fit requirements listed above for cloth face coverings. Disposable face masks are designed to provide protection to others by reducing exposure to the saliva and respiratory secretions of the mask wearer. These masks are not primarily intended to provide protection from inhalation of small particles or virus aerosols. Medical face masks rated by the American Society for Testing and Materials (ASTM) also fall under this category of face coverings.

3. ‘Respirators’ (including N95s): A respirator is a tight-fitted mask designed to reduce inhalation of small, aerosolized particles, including virus particles. Fit-testing is required and respirators are subject to regulation by the Occupational Safety & Health Administration.

Physical (Social) Distancing: A public health practice designed to limit the spread of infection by requiring sufficient physical space (at least six feet) between individuals.

University Facility: Any indoor defined space owned or controlled by the University, including a room, lab, series of labs, building, or vehicle.

University Property: Any Property owned, leased, or controlled by George Mason University.

Volunteer: An individual permitted under specific conditions to perform activities on behalf of the University, but who is not an employee of George Mason University and, therefore, is not generally entitled to the benefits granted to employees.

IV. Dates:

A. Effective Date:

 This policy will become effective upon the date of approval by the Senior Vice President and the Provost.

B. Date of Most Recent Review:


V. Timetable for Review

 This policy shall be reviewed annually or as needed based on changing conditions related to the COVID-19 pandemic.

VI. Signatures



Senior Vice President for Administration and Finance


Provost and Executive Vice President

Date Approved: 7/30/2020

Revised: 10/20/2020

Revised: 11/20/2020