Facial Covering (Mask) Policy (Interim)

Note: This policy replaces Interim Facial Covering (Mask) Policy, effective July 6, 2021.

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

This policy has been revised based on updated guidance from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), Michigan Department of Health and Human Services (MHHS), and Michigan Occupational Safety and Health Administration (MiOSHA). 

  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-owned or -controlled 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, intramural sports, and club sports.

  4. Full Policy Details

    1. All faculty, staff, students, and visitors must wear a mask when in Indoor Spaces unless they meet one of the exceptions noted below. 

    2. Fully vaccinated individuals must continue to wear face coverings when in a healthcare setting where patients may be present and when using airplane or public transportation if required by the latest CDC guidance.

    3. WMU will maintain these masking requirements until further notice, regardless of whether federal, state, or local mask requirements are lifted.

    4. Exceptions
      1. Fully vaccinated individuals whose status has been verified by the Sindecuse Health Center;

      2. When an 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);

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

      4. 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. For unvaccinated individuals:

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

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

        3. Participants in Organized or Contact sports should follow conference or club guidelines, where applicable

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

        5. 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. Implementation

      The university supports faculty checking badges in class and supervisors checking badges during their operations.  Supervisors and instructors may ask to see student and employee WMU badges to verify compliance with this Policy.   Failure to produce a badge upon request constitutes a violation of this Policy.

      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. 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.

    6. 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.

    7. Individuals who are not fully vaccinated and who fall within one of the above exceptions must social distance up to six feet or to the maximum extent feasible.

    8. Upon request, supervisors or managers must provide employees with a mask to wear at work.

  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: Unless within one of the exemptions listed above, masks are required for all unvaccinated individuals in the classroom.

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

      Answer:  Not if you are fully vaccinated and/or comply with other athletic conference or club requirements.

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

      Answer:  No as long as you have uploaded evidence of your vaccination status to your Patient Portal and it has been verified.

    4. Question:  If I am unvaccinated, do I have to wear a mask while I’m exercising or practicing in a gym on campus?

      Answer:  Yes.

    5. Question:  If I’m unvaccinated and 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: Unvaccinated individuals should wear masks 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:  Yes, if everyone is vaccinated. No, if not everyone is vaccinated unless you hold your meeting outside and each participant maintains a six-foot distance.

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

      Answer:  No.


Effective date of current versionJuly 6, 2021
Date first adoptedAugust 1, 2020
Revision history
Monday, May 24, 2021 - 08:35 Revised based on MiHHS guidance.
Proposed date of next reviewOctober 1, 2021