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Type: University Policy
Division: Shared Values & Standards of Conduct
Classification: GOVERNANCE & LEGAL

Contact Phone Number: 503-838-9471
Contact Email Address: generalcounsel@wou.edu

Use of Face Coverings During COVID-19 Pandemic
Vice President & General Counsel Vice President & General Counsel

In response to the COVID-19 pandemic and in alignment Oregon Health Authority’s (“OHA”) guidance (e.g., see: https://secure.sos.state.or.us/oard/viewSingleRule.action?ruleVrsnRsn=280420 ) and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (“CDC”) guidance, Western Oregon University revised its face covering policy on August 23, 2021.  This policy applies to all Western Oregon University locations, including but not limited to its Monmouth and Salem locations, and serves the university’s goal to help reduce the risk and spread of COVID-19. This university policy may be revised or rescinded subsequently to align with federal, state, and local guidance as the public health response evolves. 

WOU requires all employees (faculty and staff), students, visitors, contractors, and volunteers at both its Monmouth and Salem campuses to use face coverings, which include paper or cloth face coverings or, medical-grade masks, whenever they are in an enclosed public or common area on campus, unless an exemption applies. Masks or face coverings are also required in outdoor areas when physical distancing cannot be easily maintained. Face coverings should be worn in combination with other measures, such as physical distancing and proper hand washing. Face shields can be worn in addition to a face covering or mask, but they are not an adequate substitute for masks or face coverings.

When used with physical distancing, hygiene measures and vaccinations, face coverings and masks serve as a central public health measure to reduce the spread of infection across all university settings.

While face coverings and masks will not provide full protection for individuals wearing them, those that cover the nose and mouth in ways consistent with health authority guidelines will help prevent the spread of the virus in the community when used in combination with other best practices.

Employees (faculty and staff), students, visitors, contractors, and volunteers


This university policy is issued to contribute to the health and safety of the WOU community during the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic, and to align with state regulations and guidance.


I.       For the purpose of this policy:

(1)     “Face covering” is defined as a cloth, polypropylene, paper or other face covering that covers both the nose and the mouth, and that rests snugly above the nose, below the mouth, and on the sides of the face. Face coverings may not have vents or valves, and may not be made of mesh, lace, or other material with openings, holes, or visible gaps.

(2)     “Mask” is defined as a medical-grade mask that does not have vents or valves. Medical grade masks with vents or valves may be used if worn in conjunction with another mask or face covering that covers the vents or valves.

(3)     "Face shield" is defined as a clear plastic shield that covers the forehead, extends below the chin, and wraps around the sides of the face. A face shield may be worn in addition to a face covering or mask, but by itself is not sufficient to meet the requirements of this policy.

(4)     “The use of a face covering(s) or mask(s)” is defined as wearing a face covering or mask so that it covers both the mouth and nose, and rests snugly on the nose, below the mouth, and on the sides of the face, at all times.

(5)     “Indoor spaces” is defined as anywhere inside of a building. It includes but is not limited to offices, classrooms, meeting rooms, elevators, stairwells, lobbies, and bathrooms.

All employees (faculty and staff), students, visitors, contractors, and volunteers, regardless of their vaccination status, are required to use a face covering or mask in the following locations and situations:

(a)      All indoor spaces located on the Monmouth and Salem campuses.

(b)     All indoor spaces being used for University activity or business, during the time of that use.

(c)      While riding in WOLFRIDE or other University-owned or -controlled vehicles with more than one (1) occupant

(d)     Outdoors when physical distancing cannot be maintained.

(e)      Other locations and situations as designated by the president or designee.

II.      Exemptions to the use of face coverings and masks:

Exemptions to this University policy include:

(1)     Use goes against documented industry best practices for a specific position, or by law or regulation, including the use of standard personal protective equipment (“PPE”) per Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) standards;

(2)     When working alone in an enclosed workspace; 

(3)     When an individual is under the age of two (2);

(4)     In situations where face coverings for minors are advised against and not required for participation in youth activities, as per Oregon Health Authority (OHA);

(5)     When an individual is unable to remove the covering without assistance; 

(6)     When an individual has a documented medical condition that prohibits them from wearing any face covering, whether it be a cloth face covering or medical-grade mask;

(7)     While actively eating and drinking;

(8)     Is engaged in an activity that makes wearing a mask or face covering not feasible, such as when actively swimming.

(9)     When public speaking, including interpreting for another speaker

(10)    While sleeping

(11)    When a mask or face covering must be removed briefly because the individual’s identity needs to be confirmed by visual comparison (e.g., law enforcement)

(12)    While practicing or playing a competitive sport

Requests for exemptions related to a medical condition or accommodation should be made to the Office of Disability Services (students and visitors) or the Human Resources Office (employees).

III.     Enforcement:

With the exception of approved accommodations for medical reasons, individuals who refuse to wear a face covering or mask in designated University spaces may be referred to remote-only service.

The university will post signage clearly stating face covering requirements, including access to services for faculty, staff, students, contractors, volunteers, and visitors. The university will make face coverings available to those who do not have one.

IV.     Additional Information: 

This policy will and may be amended if regulatory conditions change or guidance from health authorities evolves. This may include local or state-level laws or guidance related to business practices (e.g., food service, childcare). 

WOU may transition from a requirement to a recommended use of cloth face coverings or masks based on local conditions and guidance from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), OHA, and local health authorities.

WOU will provide current employees and students who are physically present at a WOU location with a face covering or mask as a supplement to their personal supply.

WOU will continue to follow OSHA and industry guidance related to workplace safety (e.g., safe clean protocols for custodial workers or face coverings indicated for food services workers).

Individuals who engage in harassing, discriminatory, bullying, or retaliatory conduct towards others because they are or are not wearing a face covering may be subject to investigation and sanction under other applicable WOU policies.

WOU will issue clarifying guidance periodically to assist specific populations or stakeholders to answer questions and/or implement the requirements of the policy.  Examples include, but are not limited to, how employees or students may request and document exceptions and how students or employees may report conditions or circumstances contrary to this policy.

CDC Guidance on Wearing Cloth Face Coverings
APPROVAL DATE: 07/16/2020
LAST UPDATED: 08/23/2021


This policy was first promulgated on July 16, 2020.  It was revised, per state and federal guidance, on August 23, 2021 and posted to the Policy Council library on September 1, 2021.

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