Face Coverings

Mandatory Face Covering in Buildings

Because a face covering primarily protects those in the vicinity of its wearer, a face covering system only works if everyone wears them. For this reason, Columbia requires everyone on college property to wear a face covering, including at all times in classrooms, shared workspaces, or common areas. Persons without a face covering will not be allowed to enter campus buildings.

Columbia Face Covering Distribution
The College will provide two face coverings to each student, faculty, and staff member. Face coverings can be picked up at 33 E. Ida B. Wells Drive (Wabash Side at Campus Card distribution) Monday through Friday, January 20 – February 5 between 9 a.m. and 4 p.m. You must scan your Campus ID to receive your two face coverings.

Note: If you've already received your face coverings from the College, you will not provided additional ones. Faculty and staff face coverings were mailed to the address on file with the College; if you did not receive your face coverings, you can stop by the face covering distribution site listed above. 

Why is Columbia requiring everyone to wear a face covering in buildings at all times?

  • Face coverings are to prevent your droplets from spreading to--and potentially infecting--other people.
  • They are designed to protect the people around you.
  • In a community, a face covering system only works if everyone wears them.
  • Wearing a face covering is recommended by health authorities as the most effective single method of avoiding the spread of COVID-19.

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, or knitted masks, or face coverings with exhalation vents or valves on campus property. 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 are no good in communal settings because the valves allow unfiltered exhaled air to escape.

According to health authorities that include the CDC and the Mayo Clinic, face coverings with vents or exhalation valves allow unfiltered exhaled air to escape. The Mayo Clinic, one of the leading health care institutions in the country, does not allow them in its buildings because they are an “unacceptable form of source control as a universal mask.”

“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.