Ohio University Mask Policy

Ohio University's mask policy continues to follow guidelines based on Centers for Disease Control and Prevention COVID-19 Community Levels:

  • People may choose to wear a mask at any time. Masks are recommended in indoor settings when CDC community levels are high and may be required in other places by local or state authorities.

Please note that regardless of community level, 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, which have been newly updated in accordance with new CDC guidelines.

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 Campus Levels

Use the CDC's COVID-19 County Check to check the level of your campus.

Location County
Athens Campus Athens County
Chillicothe Campus Ross County
Cleveland Campus Cuyahoga County
Dublin Campus Franklin County
Eastern Campus Belmont County
Lancaster Campus Fairfield County
Southern Campus Lawrence County
Zanesville Campus Muskingum County
An Ohio University student works on her laptop while wearing a KN95 mask.
Two Ohio University students wear KN95 masks while they work on computers in a classroom

Where masks are required: 

  • KN95, N95, KF94 or surgical masks are preferred. 
  • Face shields, bandanas, neck gaiters, scarves, turtleneck collars, masks with valves, and balaclavas/ski masks are not acceptable.
  • Cloth and handmade face coverings are discouraged. Double masking with a  surgical mask is recommended for those using cloth and handmade masks. OHIO community members may wear both a face shield and an acceptable face covering, but not a face shield alone.
  • A mask must fit snugly over the wearer’s nose and mouth and under the chin, and snugly against the sides of the wearer’s face (no gaps around the sides).  

Masks Available for OHIO Community Members

For those who do not have access to the recommended masks, the University will provide a limited number at the beginning of the semester, while supplies last.

  • Masks are available for pickup at the fourth-floor information desk at Baker Center, on the second and fourth floor service desks at Alden Library, and at the Ping Center. Athens off-campus students should pick up their masks at those locations; students in residence halls will be provided a limited supply of masks by Residence Life. They will receive them when they check in to their residence hall. 
  • Regional campus students can access masks through Student Services on the Chillicothe, Eastern, Southern and Zanesville campuses. Masks are available on the Lancaster campus at the North Lobby information desk in Brasee Hall.
  • Masks for faculty and staff will be ordered and distributed by the planning unit PPE contact. Faculty and staff are encouraged to make masks available in classrooms, administrative offices, and other common areas for individuals who need them. Faculty and staff can order masks and other supplies for this purpose through their planning unit’s PPE coordinator.

Mask Care for KN95, N95 and KF94 Masks

  • Don’t wash your masks.
  • Keep masks in paper bags and rotate them, letting each air out for three days. 
  • Discard your mask in the normal trash if it
    • Gets dirty
    • Has stretched-out straps
    • Has holes or tears in the fabric
    • No longer covers the nose and mouth
    • Cannot stay on the face
    • Becomes difficult to breathe through

—Dr. Gillian Ice, Special Assistant to the President for Public Health Operations
—Dr. Ken Johnson, Chief Medical Affairs Officer

FAQ about KN95/N95/KF94 Masks

What is the “wearable lifespan” of KN95, N95 or KF94 masks?

Most manufacturers will not clearly state this. However, many public health experts agree that in a non-health care setting these masks can be reused until visibly worn, dirty, or damaged. Do not wear these masks if they are wet. It is recommended that people have a few that they can rotate through to extend the usage – i.e., #1 on day 1, #2 on day 2, # 3 on day 3.

Rotating these types of masks as described above and storing them in individual paper bags or mesh fabric bags in between uses to protect them will extend their lifespan. The paper or mesh bags keep them protected between uses while also letting the masks air out.

Are there layering options with a KN95, N95 or KF94 mask?

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention do not recommend layering (double masking) KN95, N95 or KF94 masks. The only masks that CDC recommends layering are disposable surgical masks under cloth masks. If layering a cloth mask over a surgical mask, the cloth mask should push the edges of the disposable mask against your face.

Do I have to be fit tested to wear a KN95, N95 or KF94 mask?

Because KN95, N95 and KF94 masks are preferred rather than required in non-health care settings such as at Ohio University, a fit test is not required.

Are KN95, N95 and KF94 masks comfortable?

KN95, N95 and KF94 masks are designed for protection and will fit tight. They often are warmer to wear than other types of masks such as a surgical mask. Be prepared for them to fit and wear differently than a surgical mask.

What restrictions are in place about who can obtain a KN95 of N95 mask?
  • Students in residence halls will be provided a limited supply of KN95, N95 or KF94 masks by Residence Life. They will receive them when they check in to their residence hall.
  • Off-campus students can pick up masks in Baker Center, Alden Library or the Ping Center.
  • Regional campus students can access masks through Student Services.
  • Departments do not need to request masks for students or student employees as they can obtain masks at one of the locations listed above. 
  • Faculty/Staff – masks will be ordered and distributed by the planning unit PPE contact
How many KN95/N95 masks can I request per faculty/staff member in my planning unit?

Each employee can receive up to 3 masks (but no more than 3 masks). Orders will be filled as supplies allow (meaning you will receive either a KN95, N95 or KF94 mask but can’t request a specific type of mask).

Three masks will not get me through the entire semester, what do I do if I need more?

The intent of this distribution is to make sure each student, faculty and staff member receives an allotment of at least 3 masks to get them started for the term. However, it is not the intention to provide replacement masks to each employee once these three masks have been used. However, we will make them available as we have inventory to share.

What is the difference between KN95, N95 and KF94 masks?

All three masks offer a high degree of filtration and provide some of the best level of protection from disease transmission when worn properly. Both the KN95 and the N95 are both designed to filter at least 95% of airborne particles. The primary difference is the way that the masks are certified. N95 masks are NIOSH certified which means that the quality is certified by the National Institute of Occupational Health & Safety (NIOSH), which is relevant in health care settings rather than for everyday use. Some N95 masks are medical grade, but others are not; OHIO’s N95 inventory available to students, faculty, and staff, and students are non-medical grade. KN95 masks are not certified by NIOSH but offer equal filtration rates for airborne particles. KF94 masks are similar to KN95s, offering 94% filtration efficiency and a fit that some people prefer.