Non‐Medical Masks on Campus

Last updated: September 17, 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 alone in a shared space;
  • 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);
  • Working in a cubicle with plexiglass, wall or other barrier between people and not providing services to anyone;
  • 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.

Accommodations

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

Campus safety is a shared responsibility. The university expects all members of its community and campus visitors to know the current campus protocols before coming to campus. University planners, managers, supervisors and instructors should actively support their teams, classes, event attendees and colleagues through education and sharing health and safety protocols throughout the COVID-19 pandemic.

Non-compliance with the requirement to wear a mask is subject to action under existing university policies, agreements and laws -- including, but not limited to, the Code of Student Behavior (30.4.3(1) Minor Sanctions), relevant employee agreements, and vendor contract obligations. Non-compliance with campus safety protocols can result in denied access to campus, removal from campus and if repeated non-compliance, actions may result in discipline up to and including a student’s expulsion and/or exclusion or an employee’s termination.

Should the situation become highly adversarial and potentially violent, please contact UAPS at 780-492-5050.

Non-compliance concerns in work areas or class should be reported to the appropriate supervisor/instructor. Supervisors/Instructors must handle the concern in accordance with existing University policies and procedures and work with their respective HR Service Partner for staff and their Departmental Chair/Dean to work with the Dean of Students Office for students to expedite the process. Non-compliance incidents regarding U of A Safety Measures outside of your work unit or class can be reported as “near misses” using the HRHSE incident reporting portal.

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.

GENERAL HSE PPE REQUIREMENTS

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.

ADDITIONAL RESOURCES