Face Coverings

Face Coverings in Buildings

Fully vaccinated students, faculty, and staff are not required to wear a face covering but may choose to do so. If you are fully vaccinated but have not yet submitted evidence of vaccination, you will be required to wear a face covering at all times. If you are visiting Columbia's campus, please review the Visitor Guidance website.

Unvaccinated individuals are required to wear a face covering at all times and should practice social distancing whenever feasible. 

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

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

Unvaccinated 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 am unvaccinated and can’t wear a face covering for medical reasons?

Unvaccinated 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.