Face Coverings

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When and where do you have to wear a face covering?

  • Face coverings will be optional for in-person summer classes. Instructors may request students wear them, but they cannot require them to do so
  • Face coverings are required in the following locations:
    • Face coverings are required in healthcare facilities. For example, these include COVID-19 testing sites, McKinley Health Center, Counseling Center, etc.
    • Some university events may still require face coverings as dictated in contracts. For example, the Krannert Center for the Performing Arts will continue to require face coverings at certain ticketed events until further notice.
  • Face coverings are not required in research labs unless non-COVID-related PPE is needed in the research environment. The Illinois Laboratory Safety Guide provides guidance. If a respirator is required, compliance with the Illinois Respiratory Program administered by Safety and Compliance is mandatory. Laboratory Safety or Biological Safety audits of individual laboratories and the specific procedures used in those labs determine if respiratory protection is necessary.
  • There are to be no additional expectations for face coverings for units, facilities and events.
  • Individuals are always welcome to wear a face covering to protect themselves.
  • There are a number of options below for satisfying the university’s requirement for wearing a face covering. Face coverings should completely cover the nose and mouth.
  • As an additional level of protection, the university is recommending that faculty, staff and students wear an N95 mask, a KN95 mask or a Level 3 surgical mask. Before wearing an N95, KN95 or a Level 3 surgical mask, all university faculty, staff and students should review these training materials to maximize your safety.
  • The university is providing one mask to each faculty, staff and student.
    • If you are an undergraduate or graduate student, you can pick up a free face covering at one of the following locations.
    • If you are an employee, your free face covering is being distributed through your unit. Units will receive face coverings via campus mail based on the number of non-student employees which Illinois Human Resources has on record for the unit.

N95 and KN95 masks

A N95 mask without a ventilator
kn95 face covering

N95 and KN95 masks provide medical-grade protection.

Level 3 surgical masks

A disposable face mask

Level 3 surgical masks provide additional protection compared to other disposable face masks. Disposable face masks provide coverage against droplet spread, but they may not hold up to repeated wear or washing.

Other acceptable face coverings

Cloth face masks

A cloth mask that hooks over the ears.
A cloth mask designed to hang around the neck when not being worn

Cloth masks provide protection against droplet spread.

Face shield

A face shield

A face shield, often made of plastic, usually fits over the individual’s head, although some are neck-mounted.

A face shield is not an adequate substitute for a face covering. Face shields should only be used as an additional layer of protection or used temporarily as detailed below.

A face shield does not fit tight against your face, and therefore it does not provide the same level of protection against droplet spread as a properly worn face covering. As an alternative, units can purchase clear face masks through Central Stores by searching for “smile mask.”

When can I use a face shield instead of a face covering? 

A face shield is different than a face covering. If using a forehead-mounted clear shield, the shield should extend from ear-to-ear and to the bottom of the speaker’s chin when their mouth is open. For a neck-mounted shield, it should be angled so that no droplets can escape around the sides or top of the shield.

It is only acceptable to temporarily use a face shield instead of a face covering, and only in these circumstances:

  • Use of a face shield is necessary to complete the task. This could be a counseling session interview where facial expressions are imperative or where a person’s lips must be visible in order for them to be read. As soon as the task is over, a face covering should be used.
  • Instructors are permitted to wear a face shield during lecture as long as they are able to maintain six feet of distance from all others in the room during the entire lecture. So this means:
    • Instructors should wear a face covering when they enter the facility and when they enter their classroom.
    • Once they reach the podium/lecture space in the classroom, they are permitted to replace their face covering with a face shield.
    • They must continue to maintain six feet of distance for the entire time they are wearing face shields.
    • They should then replace the face shield with a face covering at the end of class before they leave the classroom.
  • Clear face coverings (available through Central Stores) are preferred to face shields.

Clear face coverings

A clear face covering is different than a face shield. Clear face coverings fit snugly and have a clear window so the speaker’s lips are visible. 

If you are a student and have an ADA accommodation, you can request a clear face covering through DRES. For more information, please contact Tina Cowsert (tcowsert@illinois.edu).

If you are a faculty or staff member and have an ADA accommodation, you can request a clear face covering from the ADA Division of the Office for Access and Equity by contacting adadivision@illinois.edu.

If you do not have an accommodation, but you would like a clear face covering, units can purchase them through Central Stores by searching for “smile mask.”

Face covering accommodations

Individuals with a medical condition or disability that prevents them from safely wearing a face covering may seek a reasonable accommodation. Students needing an accommodation should contact the division of Disability Resources & Educational Services (DRES), and employees (including student employees) needing workplace accommodations should contact the ADA Division of the Office for Access and Equity.

One-on-one meetings and face coverings

Individuals who are not comfortable meeting one-on-one in their offices without face coverings may do the following:

  1. The person requesting the meeting wears a mask. You may consider wearing an N95 mask. According to the CDC, when worn consistently and properly, N95 masks provide the highest level of protection to the wearer.
  2. When setting up the meeting, request that the other individual wears a mask. 
  3. If they decline, you can ask about having the meeting in a larger space.
  4. If they decline, and there is no larger space, you can consider moving your meeting online.