What is a “face covering?”

In accordance with the University’s COVID-19 Standards and Guidelines: Face Coverings, Personal Protective Equipment, and Personal Hygiene, a face covering is 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. 

Individuals should properly wear face coverings that comply with CDC guidance. Generally speaking, people are encouraged to wear one of the following types of masks:

  • A cloth mask that has multiple layers of tightly woven, breathable fabric.
  • A disposable mask with multiple layers of non-woven material.
  • A mask designed to meet a performance standard.
  • A respirator, such as certain KN95s. 

Regardless of the type of mask you choose, it should fit properly over your nose, mouth and chin and include a nose wire. Do not wear a mask with an exhalation valve, vents or other openings, or one that is dirty or wet.

Is a face shield an acceptable form of face covering?

During in-person lecturing in the front of the classroom, the instructor may use a face shield that fully covers the face in lieu of a cloth face covering if they have a medical reason to do so. If wearing a face shield, the instructor must also maintain a physical distance of six feet from the closest student. A face shield, while allowed under this circumstance, is not the best option for infection control as its open sides offer less protection to both the wearer and others.

In general, a face shield cannot be substituted for a cloth face covering. If the instructor needs/wants to walk around the classroom to observe students’ work, give feedback or engage in one-to-one discussion, both the instructor and the student must wear cloth face coverings.

Who is required to wear a face covering and when must it be worn?

All University members must wear a face covering as outlined in the COVID-19 Standards and Guidelines: Face Coverings, Personal Protective Equipment, and Personal Hygiene.

What should I do if I feel I cannot wear a face covering?

If you have a medical condition that you believe limits your ability to wear a face covering as required by University policy, you must contact the office of Disability Resources and Services (DRS). DRS will work with you to determine whether and to what extent such limitations can be accommodated. 

Can the University deny my request not to wear (or to limit the wearing of) a face covering?

Yes. The University will examine requests not to wear (or to limit the wearing of) face coverings on an individual basis. To ensure the safety of the University community and the public, such requests will only be granted where legally required. 

When do I need to make a request not to wear (or to limit the wearing of) a face covering?

You will not be permitted to enter a University building without wearing a face covering unless and until you are specifically approved to do so by DRS in writing. As such, you should contact DRS to begin the accommodation request process as soon as possible. Because of the risk to the safety of the University community and the public, the University will not provisionally grant requests not to wear (or to limit the wearing of) face coverings while the accommodation request process is ongoing.

What should I do if I do not want to wear a face covering?

In the absence of a qualifying medical condition that prohibits you from complying with the University’s policy, you are required to wear a face covering indoors unless you are in an enclosed private office or dwelling. 

What should I do if I see someone in a University building who is not wearing a face covering?

If you see a University member who is not wearing a face covering and/or who is improperly wearing a face covering (e.g., with their mouth or nose exposed), you may ask them to put one on or make a report to the Pitt Concern Connection.

As an instructor, what should I do if a student in my class is not wearing a face covering?

You should remind the student that the University’s Health Rules require that everyone wear a face covering while indoors. If the student refuses to comply, you may ask them to leave class. If the student is still refusing to wear a face covering and to leave the classroom, you should dismiss the class for the safety of the other students and file a conduct referral with the Office of Student Conduct.

What are the penalties for failing to follow the University’s standards and guidelines on face coverings?

Employees who fail to follow University Standards and Guidelines will be subject to discipline, up to an including termination. Students who fail to follow University Standard and Guidelines will be subject to a range of sanctions from probation to dismissal. The University reserves the right to deny an individual entry onto and/or remove and individual from University property should they refuse to follow University Standards and Guidelines.

Does Pitt require double masking?

A cloth face covering can be layered on top of a medical procedure mask (also referred to as a surgical mask) for improved fit and filtration. Consistent with CDC guidance, the University does not require double masks, but does require face coverings fit properly.

How do I know if my face covering fits properly?

Face coverings must cover the nose and mouth and fit tightly against the face, with no gaps, to be effective. Check for gaps by cupping your hands around the outside edges of the face covering. Make sure no air is flowing from the area near your eyes or from the sides of the face covering. If the face covering has a good fit, you will feel warm air come through the front of the face covering and may be able to see the face covering move in and out with each breath.

Do I have to wear a face covering while traveling?

Yes. The CDC has issued an order that requires face masks to be worn by all travelers while on public transportation (which includes all passengers and all personnel operating conveyances). People must wear masks that completely cover both the mouth and nose while awaiting, boarding, disembarking or traveling on airplanes, ships, ferries, trains, subways, buses, taxis and ride-shares as they are traveling to, within or out of the United States and U.S. territories. People must also wear masks while at transportation hubs (e.g., airports, bus or ferry terminals, train and subway stations, seaports, U.S. ports of entry, and other locations where people board transportation in the United States and U.S. territories).