Face Covering Policy

All University of Nebraska–Lincoln (UNL) faculty, staff, students, and visitors (including contractors, service providers, and others) are required to use a facial covering at all times when indoors on the UNL campus, with the following exceptions:

  • When eating; however, social distancing practices must be observed.
  • When alone in a room.
  • When alone in a motor vehicle.
  • When an alternative is necessary as indicated by a medical professional during patient care.*
  • When actively participating in a supervised group exercise class, showering, using the swimming pool or using a piece of cardio equipment in a campus recreation facility.
  • When exercising during a university-sponsored activity.
  • When in one’s assigned apartment or residence hall room.
  • When the task requires the use of a NIOSH-approved respirator.
  • When pertaining to children under the age of 2 years.

Facial coverings are also required in outdoor settings on the UNL campus if safe social distancing and gathering practices are not possible unless subject to an exception. This policy shall remain in effect until further guidance is provided from the Office of the Chancellor.


An overarching principle to which the University of Nebraska–Lincoln ascribes is that Every Person and Every Interaction Matters. This facial covering policy has been established because we respect and care for ourselves and every person that we encounter on campus.

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) has acknowledged that use of facial coverings can help to slow the spread of COVID-19 in our communities. This recommendation is based on numerous scientific results summarized in the CDC's "Scientific Brief: Community Use of Cloth Masks to Control the Spread of SARS-CoV-2" document. A facial covering can reduce the trajectory of expelled respiratory droplets, which pose risk to those around you. They also shield you from droplets/particles expelled by others. When you wear a face covering, you demonstrate care about the health and safety of those in our campus community.

What constitutes a face covering?

There are no universal design standards for facial coverings. However, coverings must extend from the bridge of the nose to below the chin.

  • Reusable cloth facial coverings are acceptable, as are disposable paper masks.
  • Per CDC guidance, face shields are not acceptable alternatives to cloth face coverings unless they include a bottom or drape that provides fully enclosed coverage for the face and neck. Such examples include the Humanity Shield and the University of Wisconsin model.
  • Regardless of the type used, masks should not be designed with exhalation valves.

*Requesting Alternatives

Individuals whose unique and individual circumstances require an alternative face covering, as indicated by a medical professional during patient care, may request one. To request an alternative, students should contact the Office of Services for Students with Disabilities. Faculty and staff should contact Faculty/Staff Disability Services.

Wearing and Caring for Your Facial Covering

Each individual is responsible to care for their own facial covering. Disposable facial coverings are to be discarded as ordinary refuse after a single day’s use. Reusable cloth facial coverings should be washed regularly. Reusable face shields should be cleaned thoroughly with soap and hot water after each day’s use. Facial coverings that are visibly soiled or in poor condition should not be used.

Instruction for properly caring for and donning (putting on) and doffing (taking off) a face mask is provided at the Environmental Health & Safety website.

Additional Protective Measures

This policy on facial coverings complements other important community and self-protection measures which are to be consistently practiced by all faculty, staff, students, and visitors. These measures include:

  • Self-monitoring for symptoms and staying home when ill or after having been exposed to someone known or suspected of having COVID-19.
  • Washing hands often and thoroughly.
  • Refraining from touching the face, eyes, nose, and mouth.
  • Practicing social distancing, by maintaining six feet of distance from others.
  • Regularly cleaning and disinfecting surfaces.


Any employee, student or visitor who fails to abide by these guidelines may be asked or directed to leave the campus space. Employees and students who are directed to leave a campus space for failure to comply with these guidelines may be taken off duty and/or subject to disciplinary action.

Procedures for ensuring compliance in classrooms and similar places are described in the required syllabus statement, “Required Use of Face Coverings for On-Campus Shared Learning Environments.”

Counteracting Existing Marginalization

In implementing this policy, we must ensure protocols to optimize safety and provide a sense of well-being for all members of our community. We recognize that a policy to wear facial coverings may exacerbate implicit biases and existing racial stereotypes. Thus, we will provide training and professional development for members of campus units regarding face coverings in order to prevent racial profiling and targeting.