Interim Facial Covering (Mask) Policy

Note: A replacement for this policy exists at Facial Covering (Mask) Policy (Interim).

Policy number10-02
Responsible officeAcademic Affairs for faculty (Provost)
Student Affairs for students (Vice President for Student Affairs)
Human Resources for staff (AVP for Human Resources)
Public Safety for visitors (Director of Public Safety)
Enforcement officialAcademic Affairs for faculty (Provost)
Student Affairs for students (Vice President for Student Affairs)
Human Resources for staff (AVP for Human Resources)
Public Safety for visitors (Director of Public Safety)
ClassificationBoard of Trustees-delegated Policy
Category10. Facilities and Environmental Management

Statement of policy

This policy governs the use of cloth/fabric facial masks by faculty, staff, students, and visitors.  This policy is interim to allow the university to follow procedures for making expedited policy change; however, it is fully in force.

Summary of contents/major changes

Revised based on updated Michigan Department of Health and Human Services guidance.

  1. Purpose of Policy

    In the wake of the COVID – 19 Pandemic, WMU has been monitoring guidance from the Centers for Disease and Prevention and other public health organizations and, in view of their recommendations, making decisions that are appropriate and meet the health and safety needs of our campus community. In addition, state mandates require masks in certain situations.  Note that restrictions in non-residential settings are generally stricter than those imposed in residential settings. This Policy addresses when masks must be worn while on campus or in university-controlled spaces.  

  2. Stakeholders Most Impacted by the Policy

    This Policy affects all individuals physically present on University property.

  3. Definitions

    1. Contact Sports mean sports involving more than occasional and fleeting contact, including: football; basketball; rugby; field hockey; soccer; lacrosse; wrestling; hockey; boxing; futsal; martial arts with opponents; and other sports meeting those criteria.

    2. Facial covering (mask) means a cloth/fabric material that covers a person’s nose and mouth.  Other masks such as N95 medical masks and similar clinical masks are also acceptable facial coverings.  Face shields or other coverings that do not fit snugly against the face do not meet the definition of Facial Covering for purposes of this Policy.

    3. Indoor space means any enclosed University building or structure, including academic and administrative buildings, on any University-owned or -operated property.

    4. Enclosed means a space that is fully or partially enclosed on the top, and fully or partially enclosed on two non-contiguous sides, any part of that space that is more than eight feet from an open side is indoors.

    5. Outdoor space means any space that does not meet the definition of enclosed or indoor space.

    6. Organized sports means competitive athletic activity requiring skill or physical prowess and organized by a sports organizer.  At WMU this includes sports organized through the department of athletics, intermural sports, and club sports.

  4. Full Policy Details

    1. All faculty, staff, students, and visitors must wear a mask when in Indoor Spaces, except as noted in this policy. 

    2. Faculty, staff, students, and visitors must wear masks outdoors unless the gathering is with fewer than 100 people or the gathering is otherwise covered by the organized sports requirements for participants.

    3. Sports Gatherings
      1. Participants in Organized Contact Sports practice and competition do not need to wear masks indoors or outdoors if they comply with state testing requirements. 

      2. Participants in Organized Non-Contact Sports practice and competition do not need to wear masks in outdoor sports practice or competition.  Participants in Organized Indoor Non-Contact Sports practice and competition do not need to wear masks if they comply with state testing requirements.

      3. Participants in indoor non-organized sports must wear masks indoors, but do not need to wear masks outdoors unless the gathering exceeds the capacity requirements stated elsewhere in this Policy.

      4. Non-participants (i.e., spectators) in sports gatherings must follow mask requirements set forth elsewhere in this Policy.

    4. Implementation

      It is the responsibility of supervisors and classroom instructors to monitor compliance with this Policy.  Supervisors and instructors should ask anyone not wearing a mask to comply with the campus policy and/or the law and indicate where the person might get a mask if they do not have one. If, after the request has been made, the individual refuses to wear a mask, supervisors and instructors should report violations to the Office of Student Conduct (if a student), the Provost’s office (if faculty), or to Human Resources (if staff).  If the person not wearing a mask is a visitor, any member of the WMU community who sees the violation should report it to the Department of Public Safety. 

      1. Our approach to enforcement is grounded in the “education first” model that attempts to provide a learning opportunity in each situation.  Both these learning opportunities and any enforcement actions under this Policy are subject to the University’s Non-Discrimination Policy and may not be enforced in a discriminatory fashion based on race, color, religion, national origin, sex, sexual orientation, gender identity, age, protected disability, veteran status, height, weight, or marital status.

      2. Each new or transfer student will be provided two non-surgical grade cloth masks upon coming to campus.  Purchasing additional masks is the responsibility of the individual.  Additional masks will be available for purchase on the campus.

      3. Students, staff, and faculty who require others to use a clear mask for communication purposes should make the request to the appropriate office.  For students, the request should be made to Disability Services for Students and for faculty or staff to the Office of Institutional Equity.

    5. Communication

      This policy will be widely circulated to all faculty, staff, and students and signs will be placed on all University buildings indicating that masks are required.

    6. Exceptions

      In each of these situations, individuals should maintain physical distancing as much as possible:  

      1. When the individual suffers from a medical condition which prevents the use of a mask.  These situations will be considered requests for accommodation under the Americans with Disability Act.  Students making such a request should direct the request to Disability Services for Students. Faculty and staff should direct such requests to the Office of Institutional Equity (IE);

      2. When the activity requires the use of the mouth for anything other than talking, such as playing an instrument, acting, singing, eating, or swimming;

      3. When the person is alone in an enclosed individual office, or is in their personal residence hall room or apartment;

      4. When specific offices have return to work plans that require mask use beyond that defined in this Policy.  Medical facilities, such as Sindecuse Health Center, the Unified Clinics, and the Kalamazoo Autism Center will have site specific requirements for operation.  Research and lab activities will also have specific requirements;

      5. When communicating with someone who is hearing impaired or otherwise disabled and where the ability to see the mouth is essential to communication; or

      6. When giving a speech for broadcast or an audience, as long as the speaker is more than six feet from the audience.  This exception does not apply to regular classroom lectures.

      7. The COVID-19 Task Force may provide additional exceptions based on the facts of the specific situation, current medical guidance, and support from the local health department.

  5. Accountability

    Failure to follow this Policy and any associated procedures may subject WMU employees to disciplinary action, up to and including dismissal from employment by the University, consistent with applicable procedures and Collective Bargaining Agreements, and will subject students to discipline under the Student Code.

  6. Related Procedures and Guidelines

    Sindecuse Health Center COVID-19 Protocol

    Office of Research and Innovation COVID-19 Protocol

    College of Health and Human Services – Unified Clinics COVID-19 Protocol

    WMU Student Code

  7. Additional Information

    The COVID – 19 pandemic and the health care response to it are developing and in flux.  The University will monitor developments closely and revise this Policy as necessary. 

  8. FAQs

    1. Question: Are masks required in class?

      Answer: Yes, masks are required for all students and faculty in the classroom.

    2. Question:  Do I have to wear a mask while I’m participating in an organized sporting activity?

      Answer:  It depends.  See section 4.3, above.

    3. Question:  If I am fully vaccinated, do I still have to wear a mask indoors?

      Answer:  For now, yes.  The University is currently reviewing options in this regard.

    4. Question:  Do I have to wear a mask while I’m exercising or practicing in a gym on campus?

      Answer:  Except for group fitness classes, which require masks, exercise facilities follow the guidelines for organized sports. See section 4.3, above.

    5. Question:  If I’m speaking to a large group of people, such as in a lecture hall, do I have to wear a mask?

      Answer:  Yes.  This activity does not fall under the exemption for giving a speech for broadcast or an audience.

    6. Question:  May I wear a face shield instead of a mask?

      Answer:  Only if you have an approved medical accommodation. 

    7. Question:  What should I do if I feel I am being targeted for enforcement while others are not being targeted?

      Answer:  If you feel this policy is being enforced in a discriminatory fashion, contact the Office of Institutional Equity

    8. Question:  Are masks required in dining facilities or if I’m eating or drinking during class?

      Answer: Masks should be worn as much as practical during a meal, including when selecting and paying for food.  During class, if your instructor allows eating and drinking, you may remove your mask to eat or drink so long as you are at a desk/table by yourself and/or are physically distanced at least six feet from others.

    9. Question:  How long is this policy in effect?

      Answer:  The policy is in effect until further notice.

    10. Question:  Do I have to wear a mask in my apartment or personal residence hall room?

      Answer:  No, but you may want to encourage your guests to do so if they are unvaccinated.

    11. Question:  May I conduct my staff meetings if not everyone is wearing a mask?

      Answer:  Not unless you hold your meeting outside.

    12. Question:  Do I have to wear a mask outside?

      Answer:  No, unless the event in which you are participating has 100 more people. 

    13. Question:  Do I have to be a student for the Fall 2021 semester in order to be provided with a mask?

      Answer:  Yes.  New and transfer students will be provided with masks when they arrive for academic year 2021/2022. 


Effective date of current versionMay 24, 2021
Date first adoptedAugust 1, 2020
Revision history
Monday, May 24, 2021 - 12:16 Revised based on MiHHS guidance.
Proposed date of next reviewOctober 1, 2021


Certified by

Diane Anderson, Vice President of Student Affairs

Jennifer P. Bott, Vice President of Academic Affairs

Janice Van Der Kley, Vice President of Business and Finance

At the direction of

Edward B. Montgomery, University President