Face coverings are required indoors and outdoors on Sam Houston State campuses unless you are in a private space or are engaged an activity for which wearing a covering is impractical (such as eating).
Face Coverings - General
What type of face covering should I wear?
A face covering is a cloth or other type of material that covers an individual’s mouth and nose. Face masks can be purchased or made by the individual.
Per the CDC, face coverings should:
- Cover your mouth and nose fully
- Fit snugly against the side of your face
- Include multiple layers of fabric
- Allow for breathing without restriction
- Be tied or secured around your ear to prevent slipping
- Be washed after each use in the washing machine or by hand with bleach
As recommended by the CDC, surgical face masks or N95 masks should be reserved for those in health and public safety professions. Additionally, only those with an approved personal accommodation can wear a face shield instead of a face covering.
How do you safely wear and remove a face mask?
To wear your face mask safely, please follow these steps recommended by the CDC:
- Wash your hands before putting on your face covering
- Place it over your nose and mouth and secure it under your chin
- Make sure it fits snugly against the sides of your face
- Make sure you can breathe easily
To remove your face mask safely, please follow these steps recommended by the CDC. Be careful not to touch your eyes, nose, and mouth when removing your face covering.
- Untie the strings behind your head or stretch the ear loops
- Handle the face covering only by the ear loops or ties
- Fold outside corners together
- Place face covering in washing machine
- Immediately wash your hands after removing your face covering.
What type of face covering is not recommended?
Per CDC recommendations, the following face coverings are not recommended on campus:
- Face coverings with exhaust valves
- Face coverings made from single layer material such as neck gaiters and bandanas
- Face shields (unless approved as a disability accommodation by Services for Students with Disabilities or Human Resources for employees)
- Surgical masks or N95 masks
Why are face coverings required?
Face coverings are required to better protect our Bearkat community as droplets, which can contain the coronavirus, are expelled from the body when we talk, sneeze, cough, breath, etc. To protect yourself and others, the CDC recommends wearing face coverings in public settings, specifically where other social distancing measures are difficult to maintain. By wearing a face covering, we can limit the spread of the virus and continue to return to normal on-campus operations, including face-to-face classes.
Where are face coverings required?
All students, faculty, staff and visitors must wear face coverings except in their private office, residence, or where impractical. “Impractical” is defined as those persons involved in physical activity, performance or eating.
What is considered public and private spaces?
Private spaces include: private offices, private residence (including residence hall rooms or apartments), or personal vehicle. Face coverings do not have to be worn in private areas if you are alone. If other people are in the private area, face coverings must be worn by all parties.
Public space is any space that is not listed as a private space. Public places include lobbies, restrooms, cafeterias, classrooms, common spaces of residence halls, conference rooms, and break rooms. Face coverings should be worn in any enclosed public space or any outdoor space.
What if I am unsure if I am in an area that requires a face covering?
Face coverings must be worn in all areas on university property except when the person is in their private office, residence, or where impractical. “Impractical” is defined as those persons involved in physical activity, performance or eating.
If you are unsure if you should wear a face covering, you should select the option that best protects and comforts those around you. A good practice is to wear a face covering in all public settings, specifically when it is hard to maintain social distancing.
Can the university require me to wear a face covering on campus?
Yes, the university can require face coverings on campus as it is in the university’s best interest in protecting the campus community to help stop the spread of a highly contagious and deadly virus.
We understand some people may disapprove of wearing a face cover and deem it “unconstitutional.” For something to be “unconstitutional,” however, it must infringe on a fundamental right such as freedom of speech, or invasion of privacy, or otherwise treat people unequally. Requiring face coverings does not infringe on a constitutional right and is justified by the significance of the university’s interest in keeping the campus community safe during the COVID-19 pandemic.
What if I am unable to wear a face covering due to a disability or religious concerns?
Students, employees, or visitors with a pre-existing medical condition or other disability should submit a request for an accommodation from the face covering requirement. Students should submit their request through Services for Students with Disabilities at (936) 294-3512 or email@example.com. Information on the procedure to request an accommodation can be found on the SSD website’s Procedures to Request Services page.
Employees should submit requests through Human Resources at 936-294-2637.
Is Sam Houston State University supplying students, faculty, staff, or visitors with face coverings?
Individuals are responsible for providing their own face coverings. However, SHSU recommends departments have extra face coverings on hand for visitors or occasional needs. Facilities Management Central Stores has a supply of COVID19-related supplies including disposable face coverings department authorities can purchase.
I have already had COVID-19? Do I still need to wear a mask?
Yes. Scientific understanding of COVID-19 is still evolving. It is unknown if those who previously had the disease can be re-infected and become contagious again.
Are there limits to the design of the face covering?
Words or symbols on a face covering are likely protected by the First Amendment to the U.S. Constitution, unless such words or symbols are obscene, reasonably likely to incite imminent violence, or fall under some other exception to protected speech.
How long will face coverings be required?
This policy will continually be reviewed throughout the current pandemic and will remain in effect until it is safe to revoke it. Please continue monitoring the SHSU Coronavirus website for more information.
Face Coverings - Compliance
How do I report someone who is not adhering to the face covering policy?
If you see someone not adhering to the face covering policy, please contact the respective area mentioned below:
Can students, employees, or visitors be asked to leave university property by a supervisor if they are not following the face covering policy?
The university requires all individuals to follow all safety regulations, including wearing of facial coverings while on campus. Individuals who violate the regulations by not wearing a face covering will be reminded of the policy and provided a face covering, if one is available.
When an individual continues to fail to comply with the face covering requirements the matter will be handled through existing employee discipline or the student code of conduct.
Face Coverings - Students
Are students required to wear face coverings in class?
Yes, students will be required to wear face coverings in class. We are implementing the CDC standards of social distancing AND face coverings.
Am I required to wear a face covering while eating or drinking?
Face coverings should be worn upon entering, exiting, and walking through dining halls and on-campus eateries.
Face coverings are not required when the activity, such as eating and drinking make the covering impractical. After removing your face covering to eat and drink, please place it in in a bag to help keep the face covering clean and away from other people.
Am I required to wear a face masks while in my dorm room or apartment?
Face coverings are not required in your private spaces, including your personal residence hall or apartment. If you or your roommate develops COVID-19 related symptoms, then face coverings should be worn by you and your roommate(s) until consulted by a healthcare professional.
Do I need to wear face coverings in the hallway or other areas of my residence halls?
Yes, it is required students and visitors wear face coverings when in residence hall or apartment hallways or while visiting other students’ rooms or apartments.
Face coverings are required in residence hall common areas and community bathrooms, except while showering. Residents should use the sinks in their rooms to perform activities that require touching of their face (e.g., brushing teeth and washing face).
Face Coverings - Employees
Are instructors required to wear a face covering in class?
Yes, instructors are required to wear face coverings in class.
What if wearing a face covering impairs my ability to do my job?
Face coverings are required in all public areas. If a face covering impairs an employee’s ability to do their job based on a disability, the employee should contact Human Resources at 936-294-2637. Accommodation requests should include the reason the face covering impedes one’s job performance and describe the additional safety measures the employee will take to further mitigate the spread of COVID-19 in the absence of a face covering. In some cases, a face shield may be an acceptable substitution for a face covering.
Are face coverings required in work areas separated by cubicle walls or partitions?
Yes, face coverings must be worn in any public area, even if you are in your own workspace that is separated by cubicle walls or partitions.
Do I need to wear a face covering if someone is in my private office or if I am in someone’s private office?
Face coverings are not required in your private office if you are alone. Face coverings are required by all parties if you are in your private office with other people.
Can I wear a face shield instead of a face covering when I am teaching in the fall?
Face shields are only allowed when approved by Services for Students with Disabilities or Human Resources as an accommodation.
If I have a student in my class who is deaf or hard of hearing, should I wear a face covering?
Faculty with students who are deaf or hard of hearing are encouraged to work with Student Disability Services to determine appropriate accommodations. For classes using sign language interpreters, interpreters will either wear a face shield or provide remote interpreting.