LSCO Face Covering Policy General Questions
What type of face covering should I wear?
A face covering is a cloth or other type of material that covers an individual’s mouth and nose. Face coverings can be purchased or made by the individual.
Per the CDC, face coverings should:
- Cover your mouth and nose fully
- Fit snugly against the side of your face
- Include multiple layers of fabric
- Allow for breathing without restriction
- Be tied or secured around your ear or head to prevent slipping
- Be washed after each use
As recommended by the CDC, N95 masks should be reserved for those in health and public safety professions.
How do you safely wear and remove a face covering?
To wear your face covering safely, please follow these steps recommended by the CDC:
- Wash your hands before putting on your face covering
- Place it over your nose and mouth and secure it under your chin
- Make sure it fits snugly against the sides of your face
- Make sure you can breathe easily
To remove your face covering safely, please follow these steps recommended by the CDC. Be careful not to touch your eyes, nose, and mouth when removing your face covering.
- Untie the strings behind your head or stretch the ear loops
- Handle the face covering only by the ear loops or ties
- Fold outside corners together
- Place face covering in washing machine
- Immediately wash your hands after removing your face covering.
Why are face coverings required?
Face coverings are required to better protect our Gator community as droplets, which can contain the coronavirus, are expelled from the body when we talk, sneeze, cough, breath, etc. To protect yourself and others, the State of Texas requires wearing face coverings in public settings, specifically where other social distancing measures are difficult to maintain. By wearing a face covering, we can limit the spread of the virus and continue to return to normal on-campus operations, including face-to-face classes.
Where are face coverings required?
The health and safety of the Gator community (students, faculty, and staff), especially of vulnerable individuals, is of utmost importance. In light of CDC guidance, and to protect fellow Gators against COVID-19, face coverings must be worn by all individuals (faculty, staff, students, and visitors) on campus in the following areas:
• Indoor public areas on campus (includes all non-private office, lobbies, restrooms, classrooms, teaching laboratories, conference rooms, common study areas, and break rooms); and
• Outdoor spaces where 6 feet of physical distancing is difficult to reliably maintain.
What is considered public and private spaces?
Private spaces include private offices or personal vehicles. Face coverings do not have to be worn in private areas if you are alone. If other people are in the private area, face coverings must be worn by all parties.
Public space is any space that is not listed as a private space. Public places include lobbies, restrooms, cafeterias, classrooms, common spaces of conference rooms, and break rooms. Face coverings should be worn in any enclosed public space or any outdoor space where 6 feet of physical distancing is difficult to reliably maintain.
What if I am unsure if I am in an area that requires a face covering?
Face coverings must be worn in all areas on campus except when the person is in their private office or where impractical. “Impractical” is defined as those persons involved in physical activity, performance, or eating. If you are unsure if you should wear a face covering, you should select the option that best protects and comforts those around you. A good practice is to wear a face covering in all public settings, specifically when it is hard to maintain social distancing.
Can the college require me to wear a face covering on campus?
Yes, the LSCO can require face coverings on campus as it is in the college’s best interest in protecting the campus community to help stop the spread of a highly contagious and deadly virus.
We understand some people may disapprove of wearing a face cover and deem it “unconstitutional.” For something to be “unconstitutional,” however, it must infringe on a fundamental right such as freedom of speech, or invasion of privacy, or otherwise treat people unequally. Requiring face coverings does not infringe on a constitutional right and is justified by the significance of the college’s interest in keeping the campus community safe during the COVID-19 pandemic.
What if I am unable to wear a face covering due to a disability or religious concerns?
Exceptions/waivers for both areas and individuals will be evaluated on a case by case basis. Students, employees, or visitors with a pre-existing medical condition or other disability should submit a request for accommodation from the face covering requirement. Students should submit their request through Services for Students with Disabilities at 409.882.3984. Employee and visitor requests for exemptions based on a disability will follow the Reasonable Accommodation Requests Under the Americans with Disabilities Act. For areas or occupations where wearing a face covering is not feasible and is not based on a disability, a request for an exception to this policy may be made by sending a written request to the Executive Director of College Affairs that includes: the request, the reason that face coverings are not feasible, and the additional safety measures taken to further mitigate the risk in the absence of face coverings. Employees should submit requests through Human Resources at 409.882.3931.
Is LSCO supplying students, faculty, staff, or visitors with face coverings?
Everyone is encouraged to provide their own face coverings. Those who do not have appropriate face coverings will be provided such by visiting the Ron E. Lewis Library.
LSCO has purchased face coverings for faculty and staff. The face coverings are available through Marketing and Public Information at 409.882.3917.
Student Activities has purchased face coverings for students. They will be available through the Student Services Division.
I have already had COVID-19? Do I still need to wear a face covering?
Yes. Scientific understanding of COVID-19 is still evolving. It is unknown if those who previously had the disease can be re-infected and become contagious again.
Are there limits to the design of the face covering?
Words or symbols on a face covering are likely protected by the First Amendment to the U.S. Constitution, unless such words or symbols are obscene, reasonably likely to incite imminent violence, or fall under some other exception to protected speech.
How long will face coverings be required?
This policy will continually be reviewed throughout the current pandemic and will remain in effect until it is safe to revoke it. Please continue monitoring the LSCO COVID-19 website for more information.
If you see someone not adhering to the LSCO face covering policy, please contact the respective area mentioned below:
Employees: Contact the immediate supervisor of the person or the supervisor of the space where the infraction occurred (for example, the department head of building liaison).
Students: Contact the Dean of Student Services via email or by phone at 409.882.3342
Can students, employees, or visitors be asked to leave college property by a supervisor if they are not following the face covering policy?
The college requires all individuals to follow all safety regulations, including wearing of facial coverings while on campus. Individuals who violate the regulations by not wearing a face covering will be reminded of the policy and provided a face covering, if one is available.
When an individual continues to fail to comply with the face covering requirements the matter will be handled through existing employee discipline or the student code of conduct.
Employees – Faculty, Staff, and Student Employees
What if wearing a face covering impairs my ability to do my job?
Face coverings are required in all public areas. If a face covering impairs an employee’s ability to do their job based on a disability, the employee should contact Human Resources at 409.882.3931. Accommodation requests should include the reason the face covering impedes one’s job performance and describe the additional safety measures the employee will take to further mitigate the spread of COVID-19 in the absence of a face covering. In some cases, a face shield may be an acceptable substitution for a face covering.
Are face coverings required in work areas separated by cubicle walls or partitions?
No, face coverings will not be required if you are in your own workspace that is separated by cubicle walls or partitions while you are alone. Face coverings are required by all parties if you are in your office with other people.
Do I need to wear a face covering if someone is in my private office or if I am in someone’s private office?
Face coverings are not required in your private office if you are alone. Face coverings are required by all parties if you are in your private office with other people.
Can I wear a face shield instead of a face covering when I am teaching in the fall?
Face shields are only allowed when approved by Services for Students with Disabilities or Human Resources as an accommodation.
If I have a student in my class who is deaf or hard of hearing, should I wear a face covering?
Faculty with students who are deaf or hard of hearing are encouraged to work with Student Disability Services to determine appropriate accommodations. For classes using sign language interpreters, interpreters will either wear a face shield or provide remote interpreting.