June 29, 2020

University adopts face covering policy to combat COVID-19

face masks
Craig Chandler | University Communication

Craig Chandler | University Communication
Asmita Jayswal, a junior in computer science (lright), and Esha Mishra, a graduate student in physics, walk along R Street wearing the new N face mask. More than 60,000 face masks will be distributed to all students, faculty and staff for the fall semester.

Leaning into the overarching message of its N2025 Strategic Plan that “every person and every interaction matters,” the University of Nebraska–Lincoln has adopted a facial covering policy as it prepares to hold in-person classes on campus in the fall. The policy, which went into effect June 17, is in response to COVID-19.

The policy requires facial coverings to be worn when indoors on campus and outdoors if safe social distancing and gathering practices are not possible. The policy encompasses all faculty, staff, students and visitors, including contractors, service providers and others.

Acceptable facial coverings are a reusable cloth mask, disposable mask or face shield. Regardless of type used, the mask should not be designed with an exhalation valve. All facial coverings must extend from the bridge of the nose to below the chin, at minimum.

To help encourage adherence to the policy, the university will supply two reusable cloth masks to every student, faculty and staff member. Distribution details will be announced.

face masks
Craig Chandler | University Communication
The University of Nebraska–Lincoln adopted a facial covering policy June 17, and will distribute two reusable cloth masks to every student, faculty and staff.

“The facial covering policy has been established because we respect and care for ourselves and every person that we encounter on campus,” the policy reads.

Since the COVID-19 pandemic began, scientific evidence has mounted that the SARS-CoV-2 virus is spread through microscopic expelled respiratory droplets and that facial coverings can significantly prevent the spread of the virus from person to person. The Centers for Disease Control lists facial coverings as one of the ways a person can help prevent illness, in addition to thorough hand washing or the use of hand sanitizer, social distancing of at least 6 feet, and avoiding touching the face and eyes.

Exceptions to the facial covering policy are as follows:

  • When eating; however, social distancing practices must be observed.
  • When alone in a room.
  • When alone in a motor vehicle.
  • When an alternative is necessary as indicated by a medical professional during patient care.
  • When exercising either in a campus recreation facility or during a university-sponsored activity when use of a campus recreation facility is not practicable.
  • When in one’s assigned apartment or residence hall room.
  • When the task requires the use of a NIOSH-approved respirator.
  • When pertaining to children under the age of 2 years.

Individuals who require an alternative face covering, as indicated by a medical professional during patient care, may request one. To request an alternative, students should contact the Office of Services for Students with Disabilities. Faculty and staff should contact Faculty/Staff Disability Services.

Each person will be responsible for keeping their facial coverings clean. Instruction for properly caring for and donning (putting on) and doffing (taking off) a face mask is provided here.

Any employee, student or visitor who fails to abide by these guidelines may be asked or directed to leave the campus space. Employees and students who are directed to leave a campus space for failure to comply with these guidelines may be taken off duty and/or subject to disciplinary action.

The full policy is available for review on the university’s COVID-19 response website.