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Addressing OHIO’s Mask Expectations

Face covering requirements on OHIO campuses are based on Centers for Disease Control and Prevention COVID-19 Community Levels:

  • High: Masks are required in all indoor public spaces on OHIO campuses.
  • Medium: Masks are recommended during scheduled class and class-related activities in classrooms, laboratories, studios, clinical settings, other learning spaces, and the Child Development Center.
  • Low: Masks are optional on campus.

At low and medium COVID-19 community levels, masks may still be required in some settings:

  • Clinical healthcare facilities including Campus Care
  • COVID-19 testing facilities
  • Where masks are not required, students, faculty, and staff who test positive or are exposed to COVID-19 must follow masking guidelines outlined in the OHIO COVID-19 Protocol.

Face covering exceptions on campuses where masks are required based on COVID-19 community level:

  • Children under 2 years old.
  • Any person while actively eating or drinking.
  • In settings where it is not practicable or feasible to wear a face covering such as when receiving dental treatments or while swimming.
  • Where working with equipment or in a process where wearing face coverings is impractical or dangerous, as determined by instructors or supervisors.
  • Individuals who, due to extraordinary circumstances, claim and receive a written exemption from the University’s face covering requirement through the appropriate university process.
  • Employees, students, and visitors with a disability who are unable to wear a face covering and do not receive an approved exemption may request reasonable accommodations through the Office for University Accessibility.

Ohio University Official Mask Policy

In-Passing Interactions 

  • Model the way by wearing your mask. As social beings, we are likely to mirror the behaviors we see in others we like and respect.

  • Proactively prevent issues by ensuring reminder signage is posted in your area.

  • Assume the best—check your assumptions about why a person is not wearing a mask and try to approach folks with curiosity rather than judgment. Ask questions, be empathetic.

  • Ask if the individual is aware that face coverings are required or if they have a documented exemption. Any individual who has an approved exemption should be prepared to furnish documentation upon request.

  • If possible, have an additional mask to provide and offer that to the individual. Masks are available at no cost on campus. You can request additional PPE from your unit contact listed here.

  • Provide options rather than threats: You can give folks choices to put on a mask, accept a mask to wear that you provide, or go get a mask and return wearing it.

  • Validate the emotions underpinning the situation; “it seems like you are really anxious about wearing a mask” or “it sounds like this mask thing is frustrating to you.”

  • Make the interaction about learning. Use “I statements” and share why wearing a mask is important to you in your own words and with a common goal.

  • Intervene early and often—lower-level intervention often can prevent escalation.

  • Say something. The power of bystander intervention is that it is both reactive and proactive: saying something in the moment addresses a particular situation and helps to set new cultural norms for our community in the future.

  • Know the policy—review the Presidential Health Directives and be familiar with the limited circumstances that are exempt from mask expectations. Stay up to date on evolving guidance by reading your OHIO emails.

  • Document repeated or disruptive violations by reporting them to the Office of Community Standards and Student Responsibility.

  • OUPD does not enforce administrative policies (including the mask requirement). However, in any situation where an individual escalates an encounter in a way that leaves another individual feeling a violent response may be imminent, the individual feeling threatened should call OUPD.

Students in the Classroom 

  • When masking is required in all indoors locations, instructors should remind student that OHIO policy requires that all individuals wear masks indoors on campus and offer the student the following options: put on a mask, accept a mask to wear, or go get a mask and return to class wearing it.

  • If the student puts a mask on immediately or comes back with a mask, no additional action is required in class. 

    • Follow up with an email after class to remind them that they must adhere to the Presidential Health Directive of mask wearing. 

  • If the student refuses all of those options, instruct them to leave the class and the building immediately. Remind them that they are violating the Presidential Health Directives. Remind the rest of the class that all students are expected to adhere to the Presidential Health Directives, including wearing masks indoors to protect our educational community. 

    • Within two hours of the end of the class session, report this violation to the Office of Community Standards and Student Responsibility.  

    • Email your department chair/dean to let them know that you filed a report. Graduate student instructors, please include the faculty member serving as your class mentor in your email. 

  • If the student refuses to leave the classroom and/or behaves badly, dismiss class immediately and explain dismissal is due to a classmate choosing not to wear a mask. 

    • Inform the class that you will be in touch regarding assignments and remind them when the class will meet again.  

    • Follow the steps above regarding documentation & notification. 

    • Write an email to the class to make sure that they have information that was needed for the session and that they are aware of the material. If possible, hold an additional TEAMS session that can be recorded if the work cannot be accomplished asynchronously.  

  • OUPD does not enforce administrative policies (including the mask requirement). However, in any situation where a student escalates an encounter in a way that leaves a faculty member feeling a violent response may be imminent, the faculty member should call OUPD.

Face Mask Policy Accommodations 

Individuals who have authorization from COVID Operations may be exempt from OHIO’s face mask policy. Any student who has an approved exemption will have documentation; faculty will receive advance communication from Student Accessibility Services if this applies to a student in their course. Additionally, the Office of Community Standards and Student Responsibility will be able to verify if an exemption is in place once a violation is reported. 

Additional Questions/Resources 

Consult with your unit leadership to address situations that are unique to your circumstances. As always, the Office of Health Promotion offers a number of resources to help support healthy intervention. Staff in the Office of Community Standards and Student Responsibility, as well as COVID Operations, are available for consultation.