21.01 Mandatory Face Coverings

  1. Initiating Authority

    The Office of Academic Affairs and Office of Student Affairs serve as the initiating authority.

  2. Purpose

    The University remains committed to safeguarding the people who learn, research, live, work, play, and visit the University campus and ensuring the safe operation of University activities.  The purpose of this policy is to set forth the policy and procedure for required use of face coverings on campus. Approved Face Coverings are recommended as a simple barrier to help prevent respiratory droplets from traveling into the air and onto other people when the person wearing the mask coughs, sneezes, talks, or raises their voice. This is called source control.

  3. Policy Statement

    1. Approved Face Coverings Required on Campus

      1. Students, faculty, staff and visitors must wear Approved Face Coverings (as defined below) over their mouths and noses while on Wichita State University campuses in all hallways, public spaces (including outdoor spaces), classrooms and other common areas of campus buildings unless they are walking alone outdoors and not within 6 feet of anyone else; ’ working alone in a personal office space; are in their individual room, suite, or apartment in campus housing; or are eating/drinking in a designated area (i.e., RSC, Shocker Dining, etc.). There are certain exceptions to this policy including, but not limited to children 5 years or younger, or those individuals who have documented disabilities (including mental health) that would prohibit the use of a face mask or face covering.

    2. Characteristics of an Approved Face Covering

      1. It is important that your face mask meets standards set by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC).
      2. This policy requires use of an Approved Face Covering, which should have the following characteristics:
        1. Have at least two layers of material
        2. Utilize at least one layer of a tightly woven material, such as:
        3. Nylon, Canvas, or Cotton (200+ thread count)
          1. Silk or synthetic silk (100% polyester, tight weave, not very stretchable)
          2. Chiffon (90% polyester, 10% spandex)
          3. Spandex (52% nylon, 39% polyester, 9% spandex)
        4. Cover the nose and mouth completely
        5. Fit snug against the sides of the face and chin with no gaps
        6. Be secured with ties or elastic to prevent slipping
        7. Not make it difficult to breathe
        8. Cleaned after each use
      3. The University prohibits the use of certain masks or face coverings that are not recommended by the CDC and/or are prohibited by federal, state, or local public health or governmental order, including, but not limited to:
        1. Bandanas and fleece neck gaiters
        2. Non-medical grade masks that have exhalation valves with or without filters
        3. Any other face coverings not recommended by the CDC and/or prohibited by federal, state, or local public health or governmental order.
    3. Masks for Students

      Students will be responsible for providing their own Approved Face Covering. However, a certain number of free disposable masks are available at the RSC Information Desk, Shocker Hall and The Suites front desks, Heskett Center, Ablah Library, Marcus Welcome Center, Shocker Support Locker. Free reusable masks for students can be obtained at Shocker Support Locker, Shocker Hall, Ablah Library, and RSC information desk. Reusable cloth masks are also available for purchase from the Shocker Store and through Central Stores.

    4. Masks for Employees

      1. Employees are free to wear their own Approved Face Covering. If an employee is unable to obtain an Approved Face Covering, the employee should contact their supervisor. Additional masks will be available through the unit, department, college, or Facilities Services.
      2. I am lecturing in the fall. Can I wear a face shield instead of a face covering? If you can maintain at least 6-feet physical distance from the nearest member of your 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.
      3. How do I accommodate students in my class who may rely on seeing my mouth to understand content clearly? If a student tells a faculty member that they need an accommodation to see the faculty member’s mouth to understand content clearly, the faculty member should contact the Office of Disability Services to report the student’s accommodation request and also refer the student to Disability Services. In the event there is an accommodation that needs to be offered, Disability Services will work with the individual faculty member and their department on the accommodation for that student. For students with existing accommodation needs already recognized by Disability Services, Disability Services will be contacting faculty members with those students registered for their course directly to establish any needed accommodation.
    5. Masks for Visitors

      Visitors will be required to wear masks in accordance with this policy.

    6. Enforcement

      1. The first step in increasing compliance with our face covering requirement is for all of us to demonstrate the behavior ourselves. Secondly, we all need to become comfortable making a polite remark in passing such as “Excuse me, I wanted to let you know that face coverings are required at Wichita State.” There is no need to feel self-conscious about making such a remark, nor is there the need to demand action or wait for a reply. If we all follow these simple suggestions, we will be off to a good start, although, clearly not everyone will choose to comply with this friendly approach.
      2. Noncompliance with face covering requirements will be handled through existing policies and procedures. If a student does not conform after being notified of the requirement, the instructor or staff member can ask them to leave the classroom or office and/or report them to Student Conduct for repeated violations. Supervisors and leadership will address faculty and staff who do not conform to the requirement. Visitors who do not comply with this requirement may be asked to leave and/or have future admittance to university events or facilities revoked. Individuals seeking exemptions from this policy based on a documented disability should contact the Office of Disability Services (students) or Human Resources (staff/faculty).
      3. This mask policy is consistent with local and state orders. We understand some people may disapprove of wearing a mask. While the university respects those individual opinions, research has shown that wearing a face mask is the most important, and a potentially life-saving, tool to slow the spread of COVID-19. We did not take the decision to require face coverings lightly. In the interest of public health, however, we are committed to this practice for the greater good of the community.
      4. Some people who disagree with the concept of requiring face coverings have called it “unconstitutional.” However, to be unconstitutional, a restriction must infringe a fundamental right such as freedom of speech or invasion of privacy or otherwise treat people unequally. Requiring all of us to wear a face covering on campus when it’s not possible to practice physical distancing is a narrowly tailored and minimally intrusive mechanism, which is justified by the significance of the university’s interest in helping to stop the spread of a highly contagious and deadly virus for the safety of the campus community.
      5. I believe that a visitor, contractor, vendor, Innovation Campus partner is not adhering to the face covering requirement. Who do I contact?
        1. Please contact the WSU employee who is supervising the person or space where the infraction occurred. The WSU employee who is supervising the project or space 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 space. For a list of common supervisors, please see below.
        2. 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, you may direct the individual to leave the space. As a last resort, if the individual refuses to leave, inform the person you are calling the campus police for assistance.
        3. If the individual refuses to leave, call campus police to assist in removing the individual. At no point should the supervisor or other employees put themselves into an unsafe situation while attempting to enforce the face-covering policy. The WSU employee who is supervising the project or space will look further into the issue and take the non-compliance with the request to leave into consideration for further accountability measures.
        4. Who to Contact for Suspected Violations of This Policy

          • Employees: Supervisor, next level of leadership within the division/college (including Dean), Human Resources
          • Students: Student Code of Conduct (submit incident report)
          • Events hosted at WSU: Event Services
          • Visitors, vendors, and service providers: Each area of a visitor’s destination is accountable for visitor compliance.
          • Construction Workers: Facilities Planning
          • Industry Partners: Office of Property Management or Office of Industry Engagement
      6. Can individuals be directed to vacate university property if they refuse to wear a face covering? Yes, unless they have received an exemption from the face coverings policy from the appropriate university staff. 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. For example, a faculty member could direct a student to attend a class remotely rather than in person. As a last resort, if the person refuses to leave, inform the person you are calling the campus police for assistance.
  4. Applicable Laws And Additional Resources

    This is a complex, challenging, and fluid situation which continues to evolve rapidly. All information on these pages is subject to change as deemed necessary by University leadership in accordance with guidance and recommendations issued by federal, state, and local public health and government officials.