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Face Coverings and Face Masks

When used properly, face coverings and face masks reduce transmission of the virus. In accordance with guidance from the CDC, state and local agencies, Northwestern requires community members to wear masks, regardless of vaccine status, in all shared indoor campus environments, even if they can socially distance, except when in a private office, personal residence or residence hall room, or when eating or drinking. Masks should always be worn during a faculty member’s office hours. 

In response to what we are learning about the effectiveness of different types of masks, we now recommend wearing a high-quality mask—at minimum a surgical mask—in shared campus environments. These masks are readily available in the entryways of most buildings on campus and are proven to be more effective than cloth masks. When in-person classes resume, students will be required to wear a surgical or higher quality mask with two or more layers while in class.

Instructors who are fully vaccinated and who are teaching in-person may do so without a mask, provided they maintain appropriate distancing from students and others in the room. Instructors are strongly encouraged to wear masks while lecturing and should remove their masks only with extreme distancing, such as when teaching at the front of a large lecture hall. Instructors who teach without a mask are encouraged to engage in regular COVID testing, preferably the morning of or evening before teaching. Instructors can test in person at the Jacobs Center in Evanston or at 345 E. Superior Street in Chicago, 9 a.m.-4 p.m. Monday through Friday, or use rapid at-home testing kits that can be picked up at either testing location.

Additional guidance and clarifications may apply for specific activities and venues such as performance, production or ensemble classes. Students, faculty and staff should follow guidance from their schools, which may include use of Symptom Tracker or other requirements.

For student organizations or extra-curricular performances, readings or auditions, performers are permitted to take off their masks during rehearsals and performances only when actively performing. Masks must be worn in indoor shared public spaces any time when it does not interfere with singing, scene work, rehearsals and performance. Crew or other participants who do not speak or sing in performances should remain masked.

Masking remains optional outdoors, though certain outdoor events may elect to require masking based on the number of attendees and location of the event.

Please follow appropriate safety guidelines in laboratories with hazardous materials. 

For information on selecting a face mask, please review guidance from the CDC.


Putting On Your Face Covering Properly

  1. Wash your hands.
  2. Inspect the face covering.
  3. Place the loops over your ears.
  4. Ensure the face covering is worn properly.

Removing Your Face Covering Properly

  1. Grab the loops and pull it away from your face. Be careful not to touch your eyes, nose or mouth while removing the face covering.
  2. Dispose of the face covering after using it. If you have a face cloth covering, carefully put it in a plastic bag after use and take it home to wash it. 
  3. Wash your hands after touching the face covering.