Face Coverings

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Face Coverings in Buildings

Cook County, home to Columbia College Chicago, reached the CDC-defined "substantial" level of COVID-19 community transmission. Accordingly, based on guidance from both the CDC and State of Illinois, masks will now be required indoors at Columbia College Chicago, starting Friday, July 30. This applies regardless of your vaccination status -- please disregard any signage you may see on campus allowing some individuals to be unmasked. 

Failure to wear a face covering as required will be subject to discipline, up to termination for employees, and up to expulsion for students. 

"Substantial" is defined by the CDC as between 50 and 99 new COVID-19 cases per 100,000 residents over the previous week. Cook County is now at roughly 52 cases per 100,000. 

It is important to stress that we remain committed to a vibrant in-person experience at Columbia this fall, both inside and outside the classroom. A sizable majority of faculty, staff, and students have already verified their vaccination status, adding to our confidence and optimism that we can safely return this fall to the vibrant mix of in-person interactions that define the Columbia experience.  

As a reminder, Columbia has put in place many precautions: requiring vaccination for students, requiring unvaccinated employees to be tested regularly, a system to track who is vaccinated, as well as continued lower classroom capacities. We are confident these measures will allow us to have a successful semester regardless of masking requirements.

If you are visiting Columbia's campus, please review the Visitor Guidance website.

College-Approved Masks 

Cloth face coverings that have two or more layers of breathable, washable fabric, completely cover your nose and mouth, and fit snugly against the sides of your face should be worn on campus. 

Not permitted on campus­ — Bandanas, Neck Gaiters, Knitted Masks, Exhalation Vent Masks

Members of the Columbia community are not permitted to wear bandanas, neck gaiters, knitted masks, or face coverings with exhalation vents or valves.

Campus administrators reviewed a study evaluating the effectiveness of 14 different types of masks against COVID-19. The study found that wearing neck gaiters, commonly known as neck fleece, may be worse than wearing no mask at all because it breaks up bigger droplets of the virus into many little ones that may hang in the air longer. In the Duke University study, bandanas and knitted masks also performed poorly because particles escaped through the thin material and open weave pattern. Although the scientific evidence in this study is not conclusive, the college has made this decision out of an abundance of caution. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and the Mayo Clinic, face coverings with vents or exhalation valves are not good in communal settings because the valves allow unfiltered exhaled air to escape.

“Cloth face coverings provide an extra layer to help prevent the respiratory droplets from traveling in the air and onto other people… Wear a face covering to help protect others.”

--Centers for Disease Control and Prevention 

How to wear a face covering properly

Here are the CDC’s recommendations for effectively and safely putting on, wearing, and taking off your face covering.

  • Wash your hands before you place the mask on and after you remove it.
  • Cover your nose and mouth; secure it under your chin.
  • Make sure it fits snugly to prevent releasing droplets.
  • Make sure you can breathe comfortably.
  • Wash face covering after each use.

What should I do if I can’t wear a face covering for medical reasons?

Individuals who are unable to wear a face covering due to a medical condition should contact Human Resources (for employees) at humanresources@colum.edu or Services for Students with Disabilities (for students) at SSD@colum.edu.

Visit the Fall Return to Campus Plan website for additional information about masking.