COVID-19 Masking Policy

September 14, 2020

Effective July 16, 2020, the City of Springfield implemented an ordinance requiring individuals to wear face coverings when present in businesses or other facilities open to the public (“Ordinance”). Although the Ordinance exempts institutions of higher education, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (“CDC”) recommends that individuals cover their mouth and nose with a face covering that fastens below the chin (“Masks”) when around others.

Consistent with the Ordinance and CDC guidance, the university is implementing the following policy in order to prevent and/or slow the spread of COVID-19 among university community members. This policy is effective immediately and will continue through December 31, 2020, provided that the university president may modify the duration of this policy if needed.

Applicability of policy

This policy applies to faculty, staff, students, and visitors, and requires all such individuals to wear Masks covering their mouth and nose as more specifically indicated below. In addition, physical distancing of at least six feet should be observed whenever possible.

This policy does not, however, apply to the Greenwood Laboratory School (“Greenwood”) or the Child Development Center (“CDC”). Rather, Greenwood and the CDC will each develop and implement their own masking policies, as approved by the Provost in consultation with the President.

Masking is required in all buildings on campus

Masks are required to be worn in all buildings on campus, including in hallways, elevators, stairwells, classrooms, restrooms, study areas, departmental suites, and other common areas.

Exceptions to indoor masking requirements

Employees are not required to wear masks in their own, private offices within their departmental suites. Additionally, exceptions may be granted by the Provost for particular classes or academic activities for which masking is impracticable or contraindicated, provided that reasonable alternative mitigation strategies are implemented.

Furthermore, while masks are required to be worn in all buildings on campus, they are not required in the following circumstances:

  • While eating in a dining hall (including the Plaster Student Union food court, or the Union Club, the Meyer Library food court, and the Glass Hall food court);
  • While inside residential rooms within the residence halls;
  • While inside apartments located within university apartment buildings;
  • While exercising at indoor campus exercise facilities in designated exercise areas, including at Foster Recreation Center, Hammons Student Center, Plaster Stadium, or McDonald Hall; or
  • For speakers or performers, when speaking or performing from a speaking platform that allows for a minimum physical distance of at least 20 feet between the speaker/performer and the audience, in forums such as Hammons Student Center, Juanita K. Hammons Hall, JQH Arena, or the Plaster Student Union Theatre (Note: this exception does not include faculty members or their guests who are lecturing in the classroom).

For the avoidance of doubt, masks must still be worn while entering or exiting a dining hall (including the PSU food court, the Union Club, the Meyer Library food court, and the Glass Hall food court) and while waiting to obtain food in such locations.

Similarly, with respect to indoor campus exercise facilities, masks must be worn while entering or exiting an indoor campus exercise facility, and while utilizing the common areas of such facilities (including restrooms, locker rooms, stairwells, elevators, and lobbies).

While engaging in activities where masking is not required, it is particularly important to engage in physical distancing of at least six feet. Accordingly, the layout within dining halls and indoor campus exercise facilities will be modified to the extent possible in order to facilitate physical distancing.

Masking may be required at certain activities and events

Masks may also be required to be worn at certain university activities or events that present a higher risk of transmission and/or where physical distancing of at least six feet is not feasible. In such instances, signage will be posted communicating applicable masking requirements.

Masking is not required outside

Individuals may choose to wear masks while outside on campus, but they are not required to do so.

Types and availability of masks

While disposable surgical masks and N95 respirators satisfy the requirements of this policy, due to the shortage of personal protective equipment (“PPE”) for healthcare workers and other first responders, the university does not encourage their use by members of the university community.

Rather, individuals are encouraged to wear washable cloth face coverings, consistent with:

Such cloth face coverings will be provided at no cost to all employees through their cost center. Additionally, a limited number of cloth face coverings will be provided to designated locations and made available to students at no cost.

Face coverings or masks that are made of mesh or that have open exhalation vents or holes do not satisfy the requirements of this policy.

In lieu of masking, faculty members are permitted to wear face shields while in the classroom, provided that the faculty member is able to maintain at least six (6) feet of distance from all students. Such face shields will be provided to faculty members by their colleges at no cost.

Exceptions to masking requirements

In the event that an individual cannot wear a Mask due to an underlying disability, they may initiate the university’s interactive accommodations process in order to request a “reasonable accommodation. Students who wish to request an accommodation may contact the Disability Resource Center, located in Meyer Library, Suite 111, and available at DRC@MissouriState.edu; 417-836-4192; or TTY 417-836-2792. Employees who wish to request an accommodation may contact the Deputy Compliance Officer, located in Carrington Hall, Suite 205, and available at JuliaHolmes@MissouriState.edu; 417-836-6755; or Relay Missouri at 711 or 800-676-3777.

Enforcement of masking requirements

Students who have not been granted an accommodation and who refuse to wear a mask while in the classroom or other academic settings are subject to administrative withdrawal, consistent with Op3.04-11 Class Disruption. Additionally, students who fail to comply with this policy in areas outside the classroom or other academic settings are subject to disciplinary action consistent with the Code of Student Rights and Responsibilities.

Employees who have not been granted an accommodation and who refuse to comply with this policy are subject to disciplinary action up to and including dismissal.

Conflict with other university policies

Notwithstanding the masking prohibitions set forth in G5.02 Expressive Activity Policy and Op1.01-1 University Rules for Speakers and Facilities Usage, individuals engaging in expressive activity on campus may wear masks that cover their mouths and noses as long as this policy remains in effect.


FAQs about masking

Are gaiters allowed as face coverings?

  • Yes. However, university policy encourages everyone to follow the CDC and WHO guidance, and gaiters do not meet the standards set forth in that guidance.

Are masks with exhalation ports allowed?

  • No. Individuals are encouraged to follow the CDC and WHO guidance, and masks with exhalation ports do not meet the standards set forth in that guidance.

Are mesh masks allowed?

  • No. Individuals are encouraged to follow the CDC and WHO guidance, and mesh masks do not meet the standards set forth in that guidance.

Are masks with offensive messages or symbols allowed on campus?

  • Yes. Offensive messages and symbols are considered protected speech under the First Amendment. However, a complaint can be filed with the Bias Response Team.