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Face Coverings and Face Masks

Updated Aug. 15, 2022

Masks are optional in most University spaces, including classrooms, administrative spaces, offices, research labs, public spaces, public events, athletic facilities and non-classroom communal spaces such as residence halls, libraries and the Norris University Center. While masking is not required in most spaces, the University recommends masking in areas where distancing is not possible when transmission levels are elevated.

Masks remain required in University health settings such as Health Services, Counseling and Psychological Services and Northwestern’s COVID-19 testing sites. Individuals in leased spaces, patient-facing areas or clinical buildings should refer to local guidance regarding indoor masking policies, as they may differ from University-owned buildings.

Northwestern encourages students, faculty and staff to wear masks if that makes them more comfortable. The University community is committed to respecting and supporting one another’s choices.

Additional guidance and clarifications may apply for some events. Students, faculty and staff should follow guidance from their schools.

Please follow appropriate safety guidelines in laboratories with hazardous materials. 

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

Access To High-Quality Masks

Northwestern provides disposable three-ply surgical masks in the entryways of many buildings on campus. Schools and units in need of specialty PPE supplies such as clear masks, N95 masks, KN95 masks and or face shields are encouraged to reach out to Procurement and Payment Services to place orders.

KN95 Masks

Northwestern has procured a limited quantity of high-quality KN95 masks as an additional resource to support the community. Students, faculty and staff can obtain an initial set of two KN95 masks on a walk-up basis while supplies last. Be prepared to provide your NetID and to show your Wildcard. Locations for mask pick-up are:

  • Evanston: Front desk of the Norris Center (8:30 a.m.-6 p.m. Monday through Friday; closed on holidays and weekends)
  • Chicago: Lobby of 345 Superior St. (9:30 a.m.-12:30 p.m. and 1-3:30 p.m. Monday, Wednesday, Friday)

These masks are provided by Northwestern at no cost. KN95 masks should not be treated as if they are single-use, disposable masks. When stored correctly and taken care of, the masks can be safely reused. There are a number of online resources that provide information on best practices for caring for specialty masks.

N95 Masks

Northwestern occasionally facilitates orders of N95 masks, which require proper fitting. The CDC does not recommend the use of N95 respirators for protection against COVID-19 in non-healthcare settings.

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. When stored correctly and taken care of, KN95 masks can be safely reused.
  3. Wash your hands after touching the face covering.