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Policy No: 2019
Effective Date: 08/17/20
Interim Face Covering Policy
This policy applies to all University of Nebraska Medical Center (UNMC) faculty, staff, fellows, residents, students and visitors (including contractors, service providers and others) while on property owned or controlled by UNMC.
Beginning August 17, 2020, all UNMC faculty, staff, students and visitors (including contractors, service providers and others) will be required to use a face covering at all times when indoors (including elevators) on a UNMC campus, with the following exceptions:
- When eating (social distancing practices must be observed),
- When alone in a room with a closed door.
- When in a motor vehicle alone or only with members of your household,
- When an alternative is necessary as indicated by a medical professional during patient care,*
- When in one’s assigned place of residence or UNMC housing unit,
- When the task requires the use of a NIOSH-approved respirator, or
- When pertaining to children under the age of two (2) years.
In all other indoor settings on campus (including private spaces and cubicles without closed doors), face coverings must be used, even in situations where others remain more than 6 feet away.
*See section on Requesting Alternatives below
Unless subject to specific exemption, face coverings are also required in outdoor settings on the UNMC campus, including situations wherein individuals are simply transiting open spaces. While brief outdoor ‘mask breaks’ are permitted, such breaks are prohibited in heavily trafficked areas such as in crosswalks and near the entrances and exits of buildings. This policy shall remain in effect until further guidance is provided from the Office of the Chancellor.
Reason for Policy
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) has acknowledged that use of face coverings can help to slow the spread of COVID-19 in our communities. Cloth face coverings may help prevent people who have COVID-19 from spreading the virus to others. Wearing a cloth face covering will help protect people around you. Face coverings are most likely to reduce the spread of COVID-19 when they are widely used. The spread of COVID-19 can be reduced when cloth face coverings are used along with other preventive measures, including social distancing, frequent handwashing, and cleaning and disinfecting frequently touched surfaces. A face covering can reduce the trajectory of expelled respiratory droplets, which pose risk to those around you. When you wear a face covering, you demonstrate care about the health and safety of those in our campus community.
What Constitutes a Face Covering
There are no universal design standards for face coverings. However, the covering must extend from the bridge of the nose to below the chin.
- Reusable cloth face coverings are acceptable, as are disposable paper masks.
- A face shield is an acceptable alternative for those lecturing at the head of a classroom or auditorium, so long as they never come within 6 feet of others. Face shields are not acceptable in other situations except as an accommodation granted to those unable to wear cloth face coverings by either the Department of Human Resources or the Office of Services for Students with Disabilities.
- Neck ‘gaiters’ and bandanas are not acceptable substitutes for cloth masks and should not be used.
- Masks and respirators with exhalations valve are not to be used.
Individuals whose unique and individual circumstances require an alternative face covering, as indicated by a medical professional during patient care, may request one. To request an alternative, students should contact the Office of Services for Students with Disabilities. Staff and faculty should contact UNMC Department of Human Resources.
Wearing and Caring for One's Face Covering
Each individual is responsible for the care of their own face covering. Disposable face coverings are to be discarded as ordinary refuse when they become soiled or damaged. Reusable cloth face coverings should be washed regularly. Reusable face shields should be cleaned thoroughly with sanitizing wipes after each day’s use. Cloth face coverings or face shields that are in poor condition should not be used; these may also be discarded as ordinary refuse.
Additional Protective Measures
This policy on face coverings complements other important community and self-protection measures which are to be consistently practiced by all faculty, staff, students, and visitors. These measures include:
- Stay home if you are sick.
- Before coming to the UNMC campus, self-monitor for any potential COVID-19 symptoms using evidence-based screening, such as the 1-Check COVID mobile app (on Android and iOS devices), or the web-based tool. Those without web access may connect to the screening app via kiosks located in Wittson Hall and the Sorrell Center.
- Wash hands frequently throughout the day and should specifically do so after contacting high-risk surfaces such as sinks, toilet handles, doorknob and the like.
- Refraining from touching the face, eyes, nose, and mouth.
- Practicing social distancing, by maintaining 6 feet of distance from others.
- Assisting in environmental cleaning by promptly washing surfaces that might have been contaminated by bodily fluids (e.g., one should disinfect their desk if they happen to sneeze on it). If the ability of the individual to accomplish such cleaning is limited, contact environmental services personnel.
Compliance with this policy is for the protection of those with whom you will be in contact when on campus. Any employee, student or visitor who fails to abide by these guidelines may be asked or directed to leave the campus space. Employees and students who are directed to leave a campus space for failure to comply with these guidelines may be taken off duty and/or subject to disciplinary action. For non-emergency COVID-19 concerns, including compliance with this face covering policy, please report your concerns to your supervisor or to the UNMC Office of Health Security.
History and Moving Forward
This interim policy is effective for the duration of the coronavirus pandemic. UNMC will periodically evaluate this interim policy, consult stakeholders and constituents as appropriate, and modify this policy as necessary.
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