Facial Covering (Mask) Policy

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.    

Summary of contents/major changes

Revised based on updated Executive Orders.

1. Purpose of Policy

In the wake of the COVID – 19 Pandemic, health organizations, including the Center for Disease Control (CDC), recommend that individuals wear a facial covering (mask) in certain settings.  The CDC currently recommends wearing cloth face coverings in public settings where other social distancing measures are difficult to maintain, especially in areas of significant community-based transmission.  In addition, the Governor’s current executive orders require masks in most public spaces.  This Policy addresses when masks must be worn while on campus.  

In the event the CDC and/or government officials change the requirements for the use of masks, this Policy may be modified or rescinded.

2. Stakeholders Most Impacted by the Policies

This Policy affects all individuals physically present on University property.

3. Key Definitions

3.1.     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.

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

4. Full Policy Details

All faculty, staff, students, and visitors must wear a mask when in Indoor Spaces, except as noted in this policy.  When outside, individuals should maintain distance of at least six feet from other individuals and use a mask when social distancing is not possible.  If they cannot maintain a six-foot distance while outside, individuals must wear a mask.

4.1.     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.  

  • 4.1.1.     Each student will be provided two non-surgical grade cloth masks.  Each employee will be provided two non-surgical grade cloth masks upon their return to campus.  Purchasing additional masks is the responsibility of the individual.  Additional masks will be available for purchase on the campus.
  • 4.1.2.     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.
  • 4.1.3.     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.

4.2.     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.

4.3.     Exceptions.  In each of these situations, individuals should maintain social distancing as much as possible:  

  • 4.3.1.     When the individual suffers from a medical condition that prevents the use of a mask.  These situations will be considered requests for accommodation under the Americans with Disability Act (ADA).  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);
  • 4.3.2.     When the activity requires the use of the mouth for anything other than talking, such as playing an instrument, acting, singing, eating, or swimming;
  • 4.3.3.     When the person is alone in an enclosed individual office, or is in their personal residence hall room or apartment;
  • 4.3.4.     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.
  • 4.3.5.   When communicating with someone who is hearing impaired or otherwise disabled and where the ability to see the mouth is essential to communication; or
  • 4.3.6.   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.

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 may 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

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

Question: Are masks required in class?

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


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

Answer:  Yes.  According to Executive Order 20-176,athletes participating in an organized sport, while on the field of play – indoors or outdoors - must wear a facial covering except when swimming or if they can maintain six feet of distance from each other.  This includes, but is not limited to, football, soccer, and volleyball players.


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

Answer:  Yes.  According to Executive Order, 20-176, gyms must require individuals to wear masks at all times, unless swimming.


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.


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

Answer:  No.  According to medical experts, face shields without masks do not adequately stop the transmission of germs through the air.  


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.  


Question:  Are masks required in dining facilities or if I'm eating or drinking in 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.


Question:  How long is this policy in effect?

Answer:  The policy is in effect until further notice.


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.


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

Answer:  Not unless you hold your meeting outside and each participant maintains a six-foot distance.


Question:  Do I have to wear a mask outside?

Answer:  Yes, if you cannot maintain a distance of at least six feet from other individuals.


Question:  Do I have to be a student for the Fall 2020 semester in order to be provided with a mask?

Answer:  No. As of the effective date of this Policy, students will be provided with masks when they arrive for academic year 2020/2021.  Transfer students or students who do not enroll until Spring 2021 will be provided with masks upon their arrival.


Effective date of current versionSeptember 15, 2020
Date first adoptedAugust 1, 2020
Proposed date of next reviewOctober 1, 2020


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