University of Houston-Victoria

COVID-19

Face Covering FAQs

Q: What is a face covering?
A face covering is a cloth or other type of material that covers an individual’s mouth and nose. The CDC lists five criteria for “cloth face coverings,” which should:

  • Fit snugly but comfortably against the side of the face
  • Be secured with ties or ear loops
  • Include multiple layers of fabric
  • Allow for breathing without restriction
  • Be able to be laundered and machine dried without damage or change to shape (unless disposable)

Q: What is the purpose of the face covering?
A: Wearing a face covering is about protecting others and our community. Those with COVID-19, even those who do not know they have COVID-19, naturally expel droplets contaminated with the virus that causes COVID-19 when breathing, talking, sneezing, coughing, etc. Wearing a face covering in public shows you care enough to protect others. Additionally, limiting virus spread allows the campus to resume some normal operations, including face-to-face classes, without the need to return to full remote instruction. 

Q: What is a public area?
A public area is any indoor space other than your own private office, residence (including residence hall room or apartment) or personal vehicle. Public areas include lobbies, restrooms, cafeterias, classrooms, hallways, stairwells, common spaces of residence halls, conference rooms and break rooms. Face coverings should be worn in indoor public areas, even if you are by yourself, or any outdoor space where 6 feet of physical distancing is difficult to be reliably maintained.  

Q: Who will provide face coverings to faculty and staff, students, visitors or contractors?
A: It is the responsibility of the individual to provide his or her own face covering. However, each department may keep a small amount of disposable face coverings on hand.

Q: Are there other options for face coverings besides a cloth mask?
A: In addition to disposable masks, there are a variety of cloth face coverings available that you can find online, or you can make your own following the CDC guidelines. The CDC recommends at least two layers of tightly knit cotton or the more detailed Olson design. In some cases, the use of a face shield may be appropriate.

Q: Do I wear a face covering while eating or drinking?
A: No, you do not need to wear a face covering while eating or drinking. After removing your face covering for eating, place the face covering in a bag to help keep the material clean and away from other people and items in your proximity. As soon as your meal is complete, wash your hands or clean your hands with hand sanitizer and replace your face covering, then clean your hands again.

Q: Am I required to wear a face covering while in my on-campus room or apartment?
Face coverings are not required when students are in their personal on-campus residence hall rooms/suites (including private and suite-style bathrooms). You should apply the same thought process that you used while living at home with your family. When you and your roommate first come together at the start of the semester, you should have a discussion around face-covering expectations.

Q: Do I need to wear a face covering in the hallways and other areas of my residence hall?
A: Face coverings are required when students and visitors are in residence hall hallways or while visiting other students’ rooms. Face coverings also are requiredwhile in common areas and community bathrooms, except while showering or engaging in personal hygiene activities. If residents have sinks in their rooms, they should perform activities that require touching of the face (brushing teeth, washing face, etc.) at those sinks instead of at the sinks in the community bathrooms.

Q: Are face coverings required while riding a shuttle bus?
Yes, face coverings must be worn while riding a shuttle bus, even if no one else is on the shuttle, to decrease respiratory secretions on surfaces within the shuttle. Contaminated surfaces still may be a source of infection, so it is advisable to wash your hands or use hand sanitizer after exiting the shuttle.

Q: Are face coverings required while operating a university vehicle?
A: Yes, face coverings must be worn in a shared vehicle, even if no one else is in the vehicle, to decrease respiratory secretions on surfaces within the vehicle. Contaminated surfaces still may be a source of infection after you have left. If the vehicle is assigned to a single employee and that person is alone in the vehicle, a face covering does not need to be worn.

Q: Are face coverings required in work areas that are separated by cubicle walls or partitions?
A: Face coverings must be worn in any public area, even if you are in your own workspace. However, a workspace is not in a public area when it allows for reliably maintaining a physical distance of 6 feet from others and includes a physical barrier between other workspaces. In these areas, a face covering is highly recommended but not required.

Q: If I have already had COVID-19, do I have to wear a face covering?
A: Yes. Scientific understanding of COVID-19 is still evolving, and currently it is not known if those who have had the disease can be re-infected and become contagious again.

Q: What if I encounter a scenario that is not clear on if I should wear a face covering?
A: You should use your own knowledge and select the option that best protects and comforts those around you. A good standard to follow is to wear a face covering in public settings, especially where social distancing measures are difficult to maintain. 

Q: Can a person request an exemption from the requirement to wear a face covering?
A: Exceptions may be made for those individuals who, due to a specific medical condition, cannot wear a face covering and have received an accommodation. Requests for an exception because of a medical condition for students will be handled by UHV Disability Services, and requests for employees will be handled by UHV Equal Opportunity.

Q: How will UHV ensure compliance with the face covering directive?
Compliance with the face covering directive will be handled like any other university policy, standard or guideline. The person refusing or failing to comply with the face covering directive may be subject to disciplinary action.

Q: How will the face covering directive be implemented in the classroom?
Instructors of record will ensure compliance with the face covering directive unless an exemption has been granted by UHV Disability Services. First, students will be notified through their courses’ syllabi and provided with standard language of the university’s requirement to wear face coverings. If a student attends the in-person component of a class without a face covering, the instructor of record should ask the student to put on a face covering with positive coaching or to leave the classroom if the student does not wish to wear a face covering. If the student refuses to comply, the instructor of record can end the class meeting to avoid putting the instructor of record and other students at risk. The instructor of record should report noncompliant students to UHV Judicial Affairs by submitting an Incident Reporting Form.

Q. How will the face covering directive be implemented for faculty?
A. Faculty not complying with the face covering directive will receive positive coaching and, if that fails, disciplinary action will be initiated following the Faculty Manual Grievance Procedures posted on the UHV intranet.

Q. How will the face covering directive be implemented for staff?
A. Staff not complying with the face covering directive will receive positive coaching and, if that fails, disciplinary action will be initiated following the procedures by the policy governing discipline and dismissal of staff employees.

Q: How should I raise a concern about someone not adhering to the face covering requirement?
A: Please contact the faculty or staff member who is supervising the person or the space where the infraction occurred. The department head or building leadership will be in a position to ascertain whether the person has an exemption and, if not, politely direct the person to wear a face covering or vacate the public area.

Q: Can students or employees be directed to vacate UHV property by a supervisor if they refuse to wear a face covering?
A: Yes, they can be directed to vacate UHV property unless they have received an exemption, or the area or position has been granted a waiver from the face coverings policy. If individuals are not wearing a face covering in a public area, then the first response should be a collegial reminder and an offer of a clean face covering if one is available. If the individual refuses to wear a face covering, a supervisor (for students this could be a faculty member or a staff member overseeing the area) may direct the individual to leave the public area.

Q: If I have a student in my class who is deaf or hard of hearing, should I wear a face covering?
A: For students who are deaf or hard of hearing, opaque face coverings can be a hindrance to communication either because of lack of ability to read lips or difficulties using a sign language interpreter. Faculty members are encouraged to work with UHV Disability Services to determine appropriate accommodations (e.g., wearing a face shield or a transparent face covering to accommodate students relying on lip reading). For classes using sign language interpreters, interpreters will either wear a face shield or provide remote interpreting.  

Q. Are there limits to the design of the face covering?
A. The policy on Freedom of Expression (SAM 01.D.15) states: “Activities that are unlawful or that materially and substantially disrupt the normal operations of the university’s campus are prohibited.”