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As we return to campus, the health and safety of students, faculty, and staff is of paramount importance. In light of CDC guidance, and to protect your fellow Buffaloes against COVID-19, face coverings (cloth face covering, surgical mask, etc.) must be worn by all individuals (faculty, staff, students, and visitors) on campus or at off-campus activities that are sponsored by WT or WT recognized student organizations in the following areas:

  1. indoor public areas, except where marked otherwise, even if you are alone (includes all non-private office or residential spaces such as lobbies, restrooms, classrooms, teaching laboratories, research laboratories, common spaces in residence halls, conference rooms, and break rooms); and
  2. outdoor spaces where 6 feet of physical distancing is difficult to reliably maintain.
WT Student Wearing a Mask

This policy will be amended as needed in response to directives from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), the State of Texas, and The Texas A&M University System (TAMUS), Randall and Potter counties, the cities of Amarillo and Canyon and the Bi-County Health Department or changing conditions on campus.

 

General Questions

What is a face covering?

What is the purpose of the face covering?

If I have already had COVID-19, do I have to wear a face covering?

What is a public space?

Who should provide face coverings to faculty and staff? To students? To visitors or contractors?

How should I raise a concern about someone not adhering to the face covering requirement?

Can I wear a face shield instead of a face covering?

How long will this policy be in effect?

 

Student & Campus Life

Do I wear a face covering while eating or drinking?

Am I required to wear a face covering while in my on-campus room or apartment?

Do I need to wear a face covering in the hallways and other areas of my residence hall?

Are face coverings required while riding a bus?

Are face coverings required in work areas that are separated by cubicle walls or partitions?

Can students or employees be directed to vacate university property by a supervisor if they refuse to wear a face covering?

What if I encounter a scenario that is not clear on if I should wear a face covering?

 

Faculty & Staff Guidance

I have a private office, so do I need to wear a face covering when other people are in my office?

What is a private office?

How should I raise a concern about someone not adhering to the face covering requirement?

Can students or employees be directed to vacate University property by a supervisor if they refuse to wear a face covering?

I’m lecturing in the fall. Instead of wearing a face covering, can I wear a face shield?

 

Working on Campus

What if I encounter a scenario that is not clear on if I should wear a face covering?

I have a private office, so do I need to wear a face covering when other people are in my office?

What is a private office?

How should I raise a concern about someone not adhering to the face covering requirement?

Are face coverings required in work areas that are separated by cubicle walls or partitions?

 

General Questions

 

What is a face covering?

Definition of a Face Covering (Face Mask): According to CDC guidance and The Texas A&M University System, for the purpose of the COVID-19 pandemic an effective cloth face covering will:

  • Include multiple layers of tightly woven fabric 
  • Fit snugly but comfortably against the side of the face
  • Cover the nose and mouth
  • Be secured with ties, ear loops, or wrap around the head (such as gaiter style masks)
  • Allow for breathing without restriction
  • Be able to be laundered and machine-dried without damage or change to shape


For cloth face coverings, the following would not be appropriate

  • Fabric that you can see through (not including plastic windows)
  • Hosiery, gauze, hand knit/crochet, and other loosely woven materials
  • Holding a towel, t-shirt, or other non-secured item over your face


Any face covering with an exhalation valve does not meet the standards of this policy as they allow particles to exhaust from the wearer.

Disposable filtering facepiece respirators, such as KN95 and N95s are appropriate for those who are part of a respiratory protection program through their workplace.
 
FDA-approved surgical masks may also be used as a face covering.

 

What is the purpose of the face covering? 

Wearing a face covering is about protecting others and the WT Community. Those with COVID-19, even those who do not know they have COVID-19, naturally expel droplets contaminated with the virus that causes COVID-19 when breathing, talking, sneezing, coughing, etc. Wearing a face covering in public shows you care enough to protect others. Additionally, limiting virus spread allows the campus to resume some normal operations, including face-to-face classes without the need to return to full remote instruction. 
 

If I have already had COVID-19, do I have to wear a face covering?

Yes. Scientific understanding of COVID-19 is still evolving, and currently it is not known if those who have had the disease can be re-infected and become contagious again.

 

What is a public space?

A public space is any indoor space other than your own private office, residence (including residence hall room or apartment), or personal vehicle. Public spaces include lobbies, restrooms, cafeterias, classrooms, common spaces of residence halls, hallways, conference rooms, and break rooms. Face coverings should be worn in any enclosed public space, even if you are by yourself, or any outdoor space where 6 feet of physical distancing is difficult to be reliably maintained. Since this is a university requirement, this policy covers university-owned spaces except where a space exception has been allowed and is marked by appropriate signage.
 

Who should provide face coverings to faculty and staff? To students? To visitors or contractors?

It is the responsibility of the individual to provide their own face covering. However, units may keep a small amount of disposable face coverings on hand for visitors. 
 
  Are there other options for face covering besides a cloth mask or a surgical mask?

There are a variety of cloth face coverings available, including FDA approved surgical masks, that you can find online or you can make your own following the straightforward CDC guidelines. CDC recommends at least two layers of tightly knit cotton or the more detailed Olson design by medical professionals. We do not recommend wearing a disposable N95 respirator instead of a cloth face covering or surgical mask. In some cases, an exemption of the policy could include the use of a face shield.
 

How should I raise a concern about someone not adhering to the face covering requirement?

Please contact the faculty or staff member who is supervising the person or the space where the infraction occurred. The department head or building leadership will be in a position to assist and politely direct the person to wear a face covering or vacate the public space.

 

Can I wear a face shield instead of a face covering?

A face shield is primarily used for eye protection for the person wearing it. The CDC does not currently recommend face shields as a substitute for face coverings. For faculty members lecturing this semester, go here.

 

How long will this policy be in effect?

The policy is continually under review as more information regarding the current pandemic is made available. This policy will remain in effect until CDC guidelines, System guidelines, or WT guidelines are amended based on safety.

 

Student & Campus Life

 

Do I wear a face covering while eating or drinking?

No, you do not need to wear a face covering while eating or drinking. After removing your face covering for eating, place the face covering into a bag to help keep the material clean and away from other people and items in your proximity. As soon as your meal is complete, wash your hands or clean your hands with hand sanitizer and replace your face covering, then clean your hands again.

 

Am I required to wear a face covering while in my on-campus room or apartment?

Face coverings are not required when students are in their personal on-campus residence hall rooms/suites or apartments (including private and suite-style bathrooms). You should apply the same thought process that you used while living at home with your family. When you and your roommate first come together at the start of the semester, you should have a discussion around face covering expectations. However, if one of you were to develop COVID-19 related symptoms, then face coverings should be worn until a healthcare professional can been consulted. 

 

Do I need to wear a face covering in the hallways and other areas of my residence hall?

Face coverings are required in public/common spaces (see above) which includes residence hall/apartment hallways, common spaces, and community bathrooms except while showering, brushing teeth, etc. Wearing a face mask is strongly recommended while visiting other students’ rooms/apartments.

 

Are face coverings required while riding a bus?

Yes, face coverings must be worn while riding a bus, even if no one else is on the bus, to decrease respiratory secretions on surfaces within the bus. Contaminated surfaces may still be a source of infection after you have left.

 

Are face coverings required in work areas that are separated by cubicle walls or partitions?

Face coverings must be worn in any public area, even if you are in your own workspace. However, a workspace is not in a public area when it allows for reliably maintaining a physical distance of 6 feet from others and includes a physical barrier between other workspaces. In these areas, a face covering is highly recommended but not required. 

 

Can students or employees be directed to vacate university property by a supervisor if they refuse to wear a face covering?

Yes, unless the area or position has been granted a waiver from the face coverings policy. The agreement to come back to campus includes a requirement to follow all safety regulations. If individuals are not wearing a face covering in a public space, the first response should be a collegial reminder and an offer of a clean face covering, if one is available. If the individual refuses to wear a face covering, a supervisor (for students this could be a faculty member or a staff member overseeing the area) may direct the individual to leave the public space. For example, a faculty member could direct a student to attend a class remotely rather than in person. If the individual refuses to wear a face covering or leave the space, this should be reported to Student Enrollment, Engagement, and Success (students), Human Resources (staff), or Dean (faculty) and dealt with using established disciplinary mechanisms.
 

What if I encounter a scenario that is not clear on if I should wear a face covering?

You should use your own knowledge, as well as core values of respect, leadership, and selfless service, and you should select the option that best protects and comforts those around you. A good standard to follow is to wear a face covering in public settings, especially where social distancing measures are difficult to maintain.

 

Faculty & Staff Guidance

 

I have a private office, so do I need to wear a face covering when other people are in my office?

While, in your private office area you are not required to wear a face covering when alone. However, when other people join you, they all are to wear a face covering. 

 

What is a private office?

A private office is usually an office with walls and a door and only one occupant. It could also be a discrete space that is clearly defined, delineated, and apparent with either cubicle walls or partitions where at least 6 feet of physical distance from another person can be maintained at all times and is occupied and accessed by only one person per day and cleaned prior to another person entering the area. However, when other people join you then all should wear a face covering.

 

How should I raise a concern about someone not adhering to the face covering requirement?

Please contact the faculty or staff member who is supervising the person or the space where the infraction occurred (for example, the building proctor or department head). The department head or building leadership will be in a position to ascertain whether the person has an exemption and, if not, politely direct the person to wear a face covering or vacate the public space.
 

Can students or employees be directed to vacate University property by a supervisor if they refuse to wear a face covering?

Yes, unless the area or position has been granted a waiver from the face coverings policy. The agreement to come back to campus includes a requirement to follow all safety regulations. If individuals are not wearing a face covering in a public space, the first response should be a collegial reminder and an offer of a clean face covering, if one is available. If the individual refuses to wear a face covering, a supervisor (for students, this could be a faculty member or a staff member overseeing the area) may direct the individual to leave the public space. For example, a faculty member could direct a student to attend a class remotely rather than in person. If the individual refuses to wear a face covering or leave the space, this should be reported to Student Enrollment, Engagement, and Success (students), Human Resources (staff), or the Dean (faculty) and dealt with using established disciplinary mechanisms.
 

I’m lecturing in the fall. Instead of wearing a face covering, can I wear a face shield?

If you can maintain at least 6 feet physical distance from the nearest member of your class and you have a plexiglass barrier between you and the class, then you may wear a face shield instead of a face covering while you are lecturing. You should still wear a face covering when entering and exiting the classroom since face coverings provide more protection than a face shield.

 

Working on Campus

 

What if I encounter a scenario that is not clear on if I should wear a face covering?

You should use your own knowledge, as well as core values of respect, leadership, and selfless service, and you should select the option that best protects and comforts those around you. A good standard to follow is to wear a face covering in public settings, especially where social distancing measures are difficult to maintain.
 

I have a private office, so do I need to wear a face covering when other people are in my office?

While, in your private office area you are not required to wear a face covering when alone. However, when other people join you then all are to wear a face covering. 

 

What is a private office?

A private office is usually an office with walls and a door and only one occupant. It could also be a discrete space that is clearly defined, delineated, and apparent with either cubicle walls or partitions where at least 6 feet of physical distance from another person can be maintained at all times and is occupied and accessed by only one person per day and cleaned prior to another person entering the area. However, when other people join you then all should wear a face covering.

 

How should I raise a concern about someone not adhering to the face covering requirement?

Please contact the faculty or staff member who is supervising the person or the space where the infraction occurred (for example, the building proctor or department head). The department head or building leadership will be in a position to ascertain whether the person has an exemption and, if not, politely direct the person to wear a face covering or vacate the public space.

 

Are face coverings required in work areas that are separated by cubicle walls or partitions?

Face coverings must be worn in any public area, even if you are in your own workspace. However, a workspace is not in a public area when it allows for reliably maintaining a physical distance of 6 feet from others and includes a physical barrier between other workspaces. In these areas, a face covering is highly recommended but not required.