University Policies

COVID-19 Face Covering Policy

Last Update: 8/12/2021

1. Introduction

While keeping a physical distance of at least six feet from other people, practicing good hygiene measures (e.g., frequent hand washing, avoiding touching the face, covering coughs and sneezes), and staying home when ill are the best known protections against COVID-19, wearing a face covering that covers the nose and mouth can help protect others.

Definitions: Fully vaccinated is defined as: Pfizer (2 shots required- 28 days between shot 1 and shot 2), Moderna (2 shots required-28 days between shot 1 and shot 2), or the Johnson and Johnson (1 shot required). In addition, anyone outside of the United States who has a received a vaccine listed for emergency use by the World Health Organization.

To help protect the health and safety of the Western Illinois University (WIU) campus communities and the public, face coverings are required to be worn at both the WIU Macomb and WIU Quad Cities campuses under the following parameters:

Public indoor spaces (classrooms, clinical spaces, lobbies, elevators, open spaces, computer labs, laundry rooms, walkways and organized events):

  • In-person classes and labs will require students to wear facial coverings (regardless of vaccination).
  • When instruction is taking place outside, face coverings are optional, however proper distancing should occur.
  • Instructors can request an optional plastic barrier for their classroom space through Facilities Management. *Instructors should be aware that this could take several days to complete and are encouraged to complete a request as soon as possible.

Private or semi-private environments (offices, private meeting spaces, internal department conference rooms, and break rooms):

  • Face coverings are optional for individuals working in private offices or stationary working environments and where distancing can be maintained.
  • The use of face coverings should not be interpreted as vaccinated vs. non-vaccinated.
  •  Common areas of departments and offices such as break rooms, conference rooms, etc… require individuals to have face coverings.

Residence Halls & Dining Centers:

  • Face coverings are not required within a private residence hall room.
  • Face coverings are not required when seated and eating/drinking in a University dining facility or the University Union food court.

Campus Recreation & Athletic Facilities

  • Face coverings are not required within designated areas in the Student Recreation Center and athletic training facilities (i.e. designated cardio areas, pool, etc...). All other spaces/activities require participants to have face coverings worn.
  • Face coverings are not required during recognized NCAA competitions where participants follow the NCAA, MVC, and Summit League competition COVID-19 protocols.

Outdoor spaces:

  • Face coverings are optional for individuals if proper social distancing can be/is maintained.
  • The use of face coverings should not be interpreted as vaccinated vs. non-vaccinated.

Go West Buses and other public transportation:

  • Face coverings are required regardless of vaccination status.

University Approved Travel:

2. Applicability

This policy applies to all University personnel, students, contractors, vendors, visitors, and guests, on site at a University location. This policy also applies to all University personnel engaged in University business at non-campus locations.

3. Appropriate Face Coverings

A face covering is defined as any cloth face covering, such as face mask, bandana or scarf, that covers the nose and mouth, and ties around the ears or the back of the head. It must be secured under the chin and fit snugly against the sides of the face. 

Individuals may wear any face covering that is appropriate and that meets CDC guidelines.

Per CDC guidelines, face coverings should:

  • Fit snugly but comfortably against the side of the face.
  • Completely cover the nose and mouth.
  • 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.

A face shield is not a suitable substitute for a face covering. They can be worn as additional protection in conjunction with a face covering but do not, in isolation, meet the requirement for wearing a face covering.

Face Covering Content:

Western Illinois University endeavors to provide a safe, inclusive, and equitable environment for its employees and students.  It is the expectation of the University that any and all content on a face covering be non-offensive, non-discriminatory, and does not display text or image(s) that will harm the reputation and integrity of Western Illinois University.

If an individual is wearing a face covering that is considered offensive or discriminatory, they should be sent to retrieve a replacement face covering at one of the backup distribution centers on campus. University officials, including faculty, and administrative supervisors reserve the right to determine appropriateness.

If an individual refuses to replace their face covering, University officials can notify the individual’s supervisor or sanction a student through the student conduct process for violating the WIU Code of Student Conduct Code number seven (7): “Disrupting or obstructing teaching, research, administration, other University activities, including its public service functions on or off campus, or of other authorized non-University activities when the conduct occurs on University premises”. It is not appropriate to notify law enforcement. 

Faculty are specifically authorized and expected to ensure that all students in their class are properly using face coverings and are further authorized to request students to remove themselves from the classroom in the event that they fail to comply with this face covering policy.

4. University Responsibilities

Western Illinois University will provide two (2) cloth face coverings or job-required personal protective equipment (PPE) and replace them when necessary, to all students and employees working on site. Individuals may use a personally purchased alternative face covering as appropriate. Employees and students are responsible for laundering their reusable cloth face coverings. Employees and students must be trained on the proper use, care, storage and disposal of face coverings and PPE. It is the responsibility of University units to ensure compliance from employees and students under their purview. Units can also refer to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) guidance on face coverings with regard to type and fit, wearing, and washing.

5. Exemptions

Job-specific PPE requirements:

Face coverings do not replace required job-specific PPE, such as medical/procedure masks, respirators, or face shields or any other type of mask needed to perform one’s job safely.

Medical or health risk:

Face coverings are not required when: 

  • A medical professional has advised that wearing a face covering may pose a health risk to the person wearing the covering or impair their breathing.
  • When an accommodation is being made as directed by Disability Resources in the Student Development and Success Center (SDSC) or the Office of Equal Opportunity and Access (EOA). 
  • Wearing a face covering would create a safety risk to the person as determined by local, state, or federal regulators and/or workplace safety guidelines.
  • The person is physically unable to put on or remove the face covering without assistance.
  • The person has trouble breathing, is unconscious, and/or unable to remove the face covering without assistance. 

Infants and toddlers under age two (2) should never wear cloth face coverings due the risk of suffocation. Children ages 2-4, with the assistance and close supervision of an adult, are strongly recommended to wear face coverings in settings where it is likely that a distance of at least six feet cannot be maintained from non-household members and those at high risk for more serious illness. All children ages 5 years and older should wear a face covering unless medically directed to do otherwise.

Additional accommodations will be determined on a case-by-case basis with guidance from Disability Resources in the Student Development and Success Center (SDSC) and the Office of Equal Opportunity and Access. Individuals may be required to provide documentation to substantiate their need for an exception or accommodation.

6. Policy Enforcement

In the Workplace:

Employees are expected to comply with the face covering requirement as a condition of employment, as well as for the health and safety of themselves, their colleagues, and the WIU community. Departments and area units are required to ensure all of their employees have a thorough understanding of these requirements. Employees who do not comply should be reminded of the policy by their supervisor and provided additional education and training as needed. 

If, after additional education and training, an employee refuses to comply, contact the WIU Human Resources (HR) Department to initiate the appropriate corrective action.

If an employee states they are unable to wear a face covering due to a health condition, refer the employee to the Office of Equal Opportunity and Access.  Campus employees with concerns that other employees are not complying should speak with their supervisor, or report it to the Office of Auxiliary Services and Risk Management.

Students:

Students are expected to follow face covering requirements at all times when on campus. If a student is without a face covering in accordance with this policy, a verbal request for compliance should be made to educate, encourage, and persuade individuals to wear face coverings.

If a student refuses to comply with the policy, instructors and University officials can request that the student leave the class or activity. If a student is found to be in repeated violation of this policy, instructors and University officials can sanction the student through the student conduct process for violating the WIU Code of Student Conduct code number 17: “Failing to comply with the directions of or obstructing University officials or law enforcement officers acting in performance of their duties and/or failure to positively identify oneself to these persons when requested to do so.” It is not appropriate to notify law enforcement. 

If a student forgets or is in need of an alternative face covering, they should be sent to the closest distribution center on campus to receive a replacement.

If a student states they are unable to wear a face covering due to a health condition, refer the student to Disability Resources in the Student Development and Success Center (SDSC). 

If a student has any concerns that other students or employees are not complying with the face covering policy, they can report it to the Office of Auxiliary Services and Risk Management.

Members of the public, and guests on campus:

Western Illinois University is committed to maintaining a respectful, productive, inclusive, and equitable workplace and campus community. Discrimination and other conduct that is inconsistent with our values will not be tolerated. If you see someone not complying in accordance with this policy, you should not confront them beyond a polite verbal request for compliance to educate, encourage, and persuade individuals to wear face coverings. Individuals can report concerns or complaints to the University Risk Manager. It is not appropriate to notify law enforcement. 

7. Changes to Policy

Due to the fluidity of the COVID-19 pandemic, all procedures and process outlined in this policy are subject to change with notification.

8. Resources