Face Covering Policy

Jan. 5, 2021

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:

  • In office settings when 6 feet of separation from others can be maintained at all times.
  • When seated to eat or drink, or while immediately consuming food or beverages.
  • When alone in a room or not in the same workspace of any other individual.
  • 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 and not at rest.
  • 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.
  • Cannot wear a face covering because of a medical condition, a mental health condition, or a disability that prevents the wearing of a face covering.*

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. A facial covering can reduce the trajectory of expelled respiratory droplets, which pose risk to those around you. 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 masks. We recommend that you use the most protective face covering option available to you; preferably two cloth face coverings, a surgical mask or a KN95 mask. See EHS guidance for how to wear and care for KN95 masks.
  • Per CDC guidance, face shields are not recommended.
  • Regardless of the type used, masks should not be designed with exhalation valves.

*Requesting Exemptions

Individuals who cannot wear a face covering because of a medical condition, mental health condition, or a disability that prevents the wearing of a face covering may seek an approved face covering exemption. To request a face covering exemption, students should contact Services for Students with Disabilities. Faculty and staff should contact Faculty/Staff Disability Services.

*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 KN95 face mask is provided by UNL Environmental Health & Safety.

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 6 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.