COVID-19 Procedures for University of Montana Mask Policy

Updated Aug. 19, 2020

To reduce the spread of COVID-19, CDC recommends that people wear cloth face coverings in public settings when around people outside of their household, especially when other social distancing measures are difficult to maintain. The MUS Healthy Fall Task Force recommended a mask requirement, which was adopted by the Montana Commissioner of Higher Education. Campuses have been directed to establish procedures, practices and protocols around the mask requirement, procedures and enforcement.

UM COVID-19 Face Covering Policy (Interim)

In order to help ensure the health and safety of the University of Montana (UM) community and the public, unless specifically exempted as outlined in the Procedures, all University employees, students, contractors, vendors and visitors must wear face coverings on site at a University location, and off-site in all University programs and activities in:

  • Indoor spaces
  • Enclosed or partially enclosed outdoor spaces
  • Outdoor settings when people are unable to keep a six-foot distance at all times
  • University owned vehicles when more than one person is in a vehicle, including but not limited to ASUM busses and vans.

This requirement is consistent with federal, state, and local COVID-19 public health directives and the position of the Montana University System. This policy is in full effect until otherwise communicated.

Read the UM COVID-19 Face Covering Policy here.

Procedures

Definitions: 

  • Students include all individuals registered for classes at the University.
  • Employee as used in this policy includes all categories of employment, whether contract, classified, temporary, part-time or full-time, or any other employment whereby an individual receives remuneration through the University of Montana payroll system.
  • Face Covering means any cloth face covering, such as facemask, 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.

Based on CDC guidance, the most effective face coverings should:

While not ideal, disposable, single use paper masks are also acceptable when another face covering option is not available.

Face shields are not considered a face covering. 

Disability Related Accommodations

Accommodations will be made on a case by case basis. Employees should contact Human Resource Services and students should contact Disability Services for Students  for assistance.

Accommodations may be requested for the following reasons:

  1. Medical or health risk:
    1. 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.
    2. Wearing a face covering would create a safety risk to the person as determined by local, state, or federal regulators or workplace safety guidelines.
    3. The person is physically unable to put on or remove the face covering without assistance.
    4. The person has trouble breathing, is unconscious or unable to remove the face covering without help.
    5. The person is deaf or hard of hearing and uses facial and mouth movements as part of communication.

*Please note that accommodations must not impact the health and safety of others. 

  1. Babies 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 up should wear a face covering unless medically directed to do otherwise.
  1. Independent work spaces, outdoors, private residential unit.

Face coverings are not required when:

  1. Working or spending time alone in a personal space, office, enclosed study area, or similar space approved by your supervisor
  2. Working or spending time outdoors (e.g., walking, exercising) and at least a six-foot distance can be reliably maintained
  3. Operating a single occupancy vehicle
  4. Instances or spaces (such as welding labs, nursing labs, etc.) in which other requirements for personal protective equipment (PPE) make it either impractical or unsafe to wear an additional face covering
  5. Inside a private on-campus residential hall rooms or apartments; however, facemasks are still required in common areas such as hallways and when visiting other rooms.
  6. Eating or drinking and a six-foot physical distance between people can be reliably maintained

Enforcement

1) In the Workplace:

Employees are expected to comply with the face covering requirement as a condition of employment. Supervisors and managers are responsible for communicating this requirement to employees in their areas. If an employee is without a face covering in accordance with this policy, a polite verbal request for compliance should be made to educate, encourage, and persuade individuals to wear face coverings.

If an employee refuses to comply with the policy after a clear and polite request including a reminder of the policy, and an offer to assist in locating a face covering from the University, supervisors, should send the non-compliant employee home if they continue to refuse to wear a mask as directed and there is not sufficient cause for the refusal to wear a mask (see Disability Related Accommodations above.)

If an employee refuses to comply, supervisors should contact Human Resource Services (HRS) to initiate the appropriate course of action, which can include discipline up to and including termination from employment

If an employee states they are unable to wear a face covering due to a health condition, refer the employee to HRS. Employees with concerns that other employees in their department, sector or unit, are not complying should speak with their supervisor. Employees with concerns about other employees that do not share the same supervisor, students and others, should report concerns about non-compliant employees to HRS.

2) 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 polite 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 after a University employee makes a clear and polite request and offers a free face covering, the University employee should attempt to deescalate the situation by ending the class or meeting as the case may be, and as soon as possible thereafter, provide the name of the student to the University Office of Community Standards for possible disciplinary action via this online form: https://tinyurl.com/UMT-FaceCovering  

Students will be notified through the Office for Community Standards that an alleged violation has been reported and the process will be outlined in that notification letter.  If the student is found to have violated the policy, then the student will be given an Official Written Warning.   

If a student continues to violate the mandate and refuses to wear a mask or causes a serious disruption, then the conduct process will escalate and could result in probation, removal from a class, loss of privileges to a program, removal from housing and/or suspension.

3) Visitors on campus: Visitors to campus are expected to follow face covering requirements at all times when on campus. If a visitor is without a face covering in accordance with this policy, they should be politely informed of this Policy and asked to abide by it. The University reserves the right to request individuals to leave a University program or activity, or facility if they are not complying with this Policy and Procedures.

4) Enforcement of this Policy is not a matter for University Police, and therefore it is not appropriate to contact University Police to notify them of Policy violations. (Of course, UMPD should be called if there is a situation involving disorderly conduct, combativeness, or threats of violence). Employees who seek advice on enforcing this policy with regard to students should contact the Office of Community Standards (406-243-2611; magnuson@umontana.edu)

FAQs for Student Compliance with Face Covering Policy

You should politely ask the student to put on a mask. The goal of this interaction should be to educate, encourage, and persuade the student to wear their mask. If the student doesn’t have a mask, you should offer the student a free face covering.

In accordance with the Student Conduct Code, you may ask the individual to leave the class and/or program if they do not comply after multiple requests. You may also choose to cancel the class for the safety of yourself and the other students.

In the overwhelming majority of cases, not wearing a face covering of some type is not a reasonable accommodation due to the health and safety concern for others. In cases where a student has a disability that completely prohibits the use of a face covering, the student will be provided with the accommodation to attend remotely. 

Permanent removal from a class and/or program must be a result of a community standards (disciplinary) process. Please see below for reporting options.

Before reporting to the Office of Community Standards, you must ask the student to wear a mask. If the student refuses or is disruptive during this interaction, you should report the incident to the Office of Community Standard by completing this reporting form: https://tinyurl.com/UMT-FaceCovering

The Office of Community Standards will likely not disclose the result of the community standards process to you after you report. Outcomes of this process will vary based on the number of reports and extent of disruption during the interaction. Outcomes could include an official written warning, probation, removal from class, loss of privileges to a program, removal from housing, and/or suspension.

You can contact the Office of Community Standards (406-243-2611; kelly.magnuson@umontana.edu) for any questions and/or to seek advice on enforcing this policy.