Face Coverings Required for UW Employees, Students This Summer and Fall

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LARAMIE, Wyo. (Release) -- University of Wyoming employees and students are required to wear face coverings while on UW-owned property or when conducting university business or activities, including instruction and research.

This requirement is in place immediately and also is part of the university’s plan for the fall semester to mitigate the spread of the novel coronavirus COVID-19.

“Given its highly contagious nature and the unpredictability of how it will affect any given individual, it is imperative that we, as a community, treat it as the public health crisis that it is and take simple precautions to protect our families, our neighbors and ourselves,” says College of Health Sciences Dean David Jones, who leads a UW team addressing campus questions on COVID-19. “The university’s decision to implement a mask/facial covering policy was not made out of fear; it was made out of a sense of commitment to slowing and decreasing the spread of a highly contagious virus. The more consistently we wear masks in public spaces in the community, the sooner we will get to a point where we will no longer need to wear them.”

One exception to the policy on face coverings is that people alone in closed-door offices -- or in their residence hall rooms -- don’t have to wear them at those times. Additionally, while UW’s current policy for the fall semester -- approved by the Board of Trustees -- is that visitors to campus are encouraged but not required to wear masks, the issue may be discussed further by the board in July.

The university will require and provide face coverings for all employees and students this fall -- those coverings have been ordered, and some units already have secured masks and other types of protection for their employees -- but not all units are able to provide them at this point. So, employees and students on campus this summer may need to wear their own personal face protection.

The university is developing a COVID-19 policy that will outline the rule on face coverings as well as other guidelines, including physical distancing and what to do if you develop symptoms that might indicate coronavirus infection. It also will lay out consequences for violation of the policy, including disciplinary action through the Student Code of Conduct, for students, and the employee handbook, for faculty and staff members.

Additionally, UW’s Office of Academic Affairs is drafting a behavioral expectation addition to the syllabus, giving faculty members the ability to remove students from the classroom for violation of the COVID-19 policy.

“It has been widely shown that communities that adopted masks early on have experienced a lower health impact as it relates to spread of the COVID-19 virus,” says incoming President Ed Seidel. “The wearing of masks and other practices help prevent us from transmitting the virus to others and provide some degree of protection to ourselves, as well.”