Non‐Medical Masks on Campus

Last updated: November 23, 2021

The university requires that all faculty, staff, students and visitors to all U of A campuses wear non-medical face masks (masks) at all times in all university indoor common-use spaces — on its property, vehicles and leased spaces. This includes classrooms, labs, common areas in residences, libraries and meeting rooms. Masks are also required to be worn by attendees at outdoor events. Occupants of leased properties may also be subject to additional policies and guidelines of the property’s owner or manager. It is deemed an additional and prudent measure, wherever practical, to maintain previously established mask requirements given the Delta variant and desire to reduce the risk of aerosol transmission.

View Face Mask FAQ

Limited exceptions to non-medical masks/face coverings are:

  • When in enclosed single-user spaces (e.g., office, cubicle, study room);
  • Working outdoors and there is a minimum of 2 metres between people;
    • As noted above, this exception is not in place for outdoor events, where masks must be worn by attendees;
  • When an equivalent or higher protection PPE is already in use (e.g., N95 or better respirator, physical shields);
  • When working in a cubicle in a high-traffic area with plexiglass, wall or other barrier between people and not providing services to anyone (unless specifically designed for COVID-19 safety, study carrels are not sufficient to enable this exception);
  • When working in a secure office environment (non-public area) where there is low traffic and barriers and/or 2 metres of distance can be maintained at all times.
    • This exception does not apply to public/common areas such as libraries, study spaces, common seating areas and classrooms where 2 metres of distancing cannot be guaranteed at all times. Masks must be worn at all times in public/common areas.
    • Those who work in a secure office environment may only remove their mask while seated at their desk. When leaving their desks or when someone comes with 2 metres, masks must be worn.
  • When in personal residence units;
  • When actively eating or drinking (being mindful of the need to quickly re-mask and practice good hand hygiene);
  • When participating in an activity where a mask cannot be worn, as determined by a hazard assessment (e.g., swimming, performance arts: drama - for specific moments in theatrical productions/performances, vocal instruction/performance, wind instrument instruction /performance);
  • In situations when addressing groups where comprehension is an issue, such as instruction and speaking to an audience, at least 2 meters physical distance should be maintained;
    • Mask use must be maximized in a classroom. The mask may be removed for a short time to resolve the issue. If this occurs, in future lectures, the instructor should look at options to minimize the removal of masks, such as the use of a microphone.
    • Similarly, in situations where comprehension is an issue when an individual cannot reasonably achieve 2 meters physical distance and needs to speak, the mask may be removed, but put back on as quickly as possible (e.g., a student in the middle of a theatre asking or answering a question);
  • With a valid staff or student mask accommodation (see below).

Public health requirements may still change depending on local COVID-19 transmission rates and vaccination levels. The U of A will continue to follow the advice of public health authorities on public safety measures, and post updates as applicable. As always, the safety of the university community will remain our top priority.


Individuals may be exempt from this directive when:

  • Under the age of 2;
  • Unable to place, use, or remove a mask without assistance;
  • Unable to wear a mask due to a mental or physical concern or limitation, or protected ground under the Alberta Human Rights Act; and
  • Providing care or assistance to someone with a disability where a mask would hinder that caregiving or assistance.

Staff who qualify for an accommodation must discuss their needs with their supervisor, and seek a verified accommodation. Staff accommodations require medical confirmation from the employee’s physician, and will require followup from the university’s third-party disability management provider, Homewood Health, to confirm accommodation requirements. See the Employee Mask Accommodation Procedure for more information. Supervisors should seek guidance from their HR Partner.

Students seeking an accommodation from wearing a mask on U of A campuses can learn more about applying for a mask exemption and the documentation required. Refer to the Student Mask Accommodation Procedure for more information about student accommodations.

Education and Enforcement

For information on COVID-19 education and enforcement of safety measures, please view the new Education and Enforcement webpage.

Updated October 13, 2021


This policy does not supersede any regular health, safety and environment (HSE) requirements to wear higher protection personal protective equipment (PPE), such as respirators. Please see Human Resources, Health, Safety and Environment for additional information on general workplace safety requirements.