• Covid-19
Features & Articles

Indoors and Out, Face Coverings Required When on Campus

A person in a face mask next to a tablet
The University’s COVID-19 Standards and Guidelines: Face Coverings, Personal Protective Equipment and Personal Hygiene have been revised to strengthen the requirements for wearing face coverings on campus.

In short: Face coverings are now required, indoors or out, regardless of our operational posture, with very limited exceptions.

“These revisions strengthen the mandate in the previous version of the standards and guidelines,” said John V. Williams, chief of the medical school’s Division of Infectious Diseases, Henry L. Hillman Endowed Chair in Pediatric Immunology and professor of pediatrics, and director of the COVID-19 Medical Response Office.

“The Healthcare Advisory Group and the COVID-19 Medical Response Office recommended these revisions because the research now indicates that the use of face coverings is the most essential tool to help mitigate the spread of COVID-19. While physical distancing and hand hygiene remain vital components in the fight against COVID, the single most effective thing we can all do to protect our community is wear our face coverings properly and consistently,” Williams said.

So, what changed in the policy? We have the answers you need to keep yourself and others safer and healthier.

When do I have to wear a face covering?

Any time you are in public, on campus and in campus buildings.

There have to be exceptions, right?

Only a few. In the Elevated and Guarded Risk Postures, you don’t have to wear a face covering if you’re: eating or drinking in a designated dining area and 6 feet apart, or with your household (apartment, suite or room); in a private, single occupancy space (like a private office); or in your living space with members of your household. In these postures, you also do not need to wear them if you are exercising, eating or drinking outdoors and can maintain 6 feet of physical distance from others, unless they’re in your household.

The only exceptions to face coverings in the High Risk Posture are when you’re in a private, single occupancy space; in your living space with members of your household (apartment, suite or room); or eating or drinking outdoors when you can maintain 6 feet of physical distance others, unless they’re in your household.

Reminder as of Sept. 4: The Pittsburgh campus is currently in Elevated Risk and the Bradford, Greensburg, Johnstown and Titusville campuses are in Guarded Risk.

What defines a face covering?

Any type of cloth or disposable material that covers the mouth and nose and can be safely secured in place (e.g., looped around ears or around the head) while in use. For the purposes of this guidance, face coverings include masks.

Do I have to wear it over my nose?


Do I have to wear it if it’s hot outside?


Do I have to wear it if I don’t feel like it?


I’m sensing a theme here.


Okay. But why do I have to wear it?

It’s simple: When you wear a face covering, you help keep all of us safe. But it takes all of us doing it to make a difference. Here’s what the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention says: “Wearing masks can help communities slow the spread of COVID-19 when worn consistently and correctly by a majority of people in public settings and when masks are used along with other preventive measures.”

In other words, every person who chooses not to wear a face covering puts all of us at greater risk.

You’ve convinced me, but I see others not doing it. What should I do when I see someone not wearing theirs?

Great question! The easiest thing you can do is politely ask them to please put theirs on. We also have a list of tips to encourage a culture of health and safety, including scenarios like this.