COVID-19 Prevention: Campus Facilities

Together, we are stopping the spread

The health and safety of our campus community is UB’s priority and it’s up to each of us, individually, to practice health-conscious behaviors. Whether it’s wearing a face mask, social distancing or staying home if you're sick, each small step has big potential consequences.

This guidance is subject to change and will be reviewed periodically to ensure compliance with guidance from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), New York State Department of Health (DOH), and World Health Organization (WHO).

For specific concerns please call (available 24 hours a day):
UB University Facilities Customer Services
716-645-2025

Face Coverings Social Distancing Cleaning & Disinfecting Handwashing Workplace Signage

The use of face coverings (preferably a multi-layered cloth covering or a surgical mask) is one of the most effective ways to prevent the spread of COVID-19, according to the most recent scientific evidence gathered by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC).

To protect their own health and that of their classmates, colleagues, friends and families, members of the UB community must commit themselves to wearing a face covering at all times according to the following guidelines.  

When inside all UB buildings, classrooms, labs and facilities, all UB students, faculty, staff and visitors are required to wear a face covering at all times. A face covering must also be worn at all times in outdoor spaces on UB’s campuses, to further reduce the risk of transmission as people travel from place to place. 

Face Coverings Basics

Face Coverings: Basics

Woman wearing cloth face mask.
  • Members of the UB community and campus visitors must wear face coverings at all times 
    • When inside UB buildings, classrooms, labs, facilities, and buses and shuttles and in outdoor campus spaces.
  • UB provided one reusable face covering to each student, faculty and staff member at no cost. 
  • You may use your own face covering, provided it:
    • Is snug but comfortable against the sides of the face.
    • Covers your mouth and nose.
    • Is secured with ties or ear loops.
    • Is made with multiple layers of material.
    • Allows you to breathe without restriction.
    • Will not be damaged or change shape with washing and drying
  • Do not wear face coverings (masks) with plastic valves. These are one-way valves that do not filter air you expel and are therefore unsafe to others if you are infectious.
  • Face shields will be provided if there is a medical reason a person cannot wear a face covering.
  • Do not share face coverings.
    • Label your face mask with your name to reduce risk of mixing masks with coworkers.
  • Wash or sanitize your hands after removing your mask.

Source: University Facilities

Where to Get a Face Mask

Before the Semester Starts

Employees

Reusable face masks have been delivered by Campus Mail to all UB units for distribution to their faculty and staff. If you did not receive yours, please check with your supervisor or Unit Business Officer (UBO). Additional face masks are available for purchase on campus.

Units wishing to purchase additional face masks in bulk should work directly with UB Purchasing.

Students

  • On-Campus resident: Campus Living will be distributing masks to on-campus residents
  • Graduate students: Graduate programs will be distributing masks to students in the following schools:
    • School of Dental Medicine
    • School of Law
    • School of Social Work
    • Students, learn more about where to get face masks on the UB Student Guide web page.

Purchase a Mask

Anyone can purchase a mask at the following locations:

Retail locations:

  • The Elli (Ellicott Complex)
  • Teddy’s (Governors) 
  • Campus Tees (Student Union)

Vending machines (disposable masks):

  • Clement Hall
  • Ellicott Food Court South (by Perks)
  • Jacobs School of Medicine and Biomedical Sciences 
  • Knox Lecture Hall
  • Main Street Market (South Campus)
  • Natural Science Building
  • Student Union (second floor)

At the Start of the Semester (Week of August 31)

Students can receive one mask at no cost from the following locations:

  • Welcome tents/tables on campus (August 28-September 4)
  • In front of the Student Union
  • Founder’s Plaza outside of Capen Hall
  • Near the Main Circle on South Campus
  • Student Union Welcome Center inside
  • 1 Capen
  • 1 Diefendorf (South Campus)
  • Buses and shuttles on campus
  • Libraries

Source: University Facilities

When to Wear Face Coverings

All UB students, faculty, staff and visitors are required to wear a face covering at all times when inside all UB buildings, classrooms, labs and facilities, or in outdoor spaces.

Even when social distancing is possible, face coverings must be worn at all times when in public spaces – indoors or outdoors on UB’s campuses – because the risk of infection still exists at distances greater than 6 feet.

All passengers on UB buses and shuttles are required to wear a face mask at all times. UB Stampede and shuttle drivers and passengers are required to wear face coverings at all times.

Within on-campus dining facilities, individuals should wear face masks until seated at least 6 feet apart from another individual, and then may remove their masks by necessity when actively eating or drinking. However, we strongly encourage mask usage inside the dining area when not actively eating and drinking. Masks must be worn when entering and exiting the dining area.

Wearing Face Masks With Religious or Cultural Head Coverings

Example of head covering.
Example of head covering.
Example of head covering.

If you wear a cultural or religious head covering, such as a hijab, niqab, or turban, you are required to wear a cloth face mask, too.

In general, most cultural or religious head coverings either do not cover the face or do not fit snugly enough around the face to provide sufficient protection against COVID-19. Additionally, most head coverings that extend over the face are made of fabric too light and porous to offer protection.

Hijabs, Turbans, Tichels

Wearers of hijabs, turbans, tichels and head coverings like them that do not cover the face, must also wear a cloth face mask.

A standard cloth face mask can be tucked inside your veil or turban, behind your ears.

If you prefer to wear your face mask outside your head covering, consider attaching face mask extensions or buttons so you can attach ear loops.

Niqabs

Niqabs (niqaabs) and headcoverings like it do not provide sufficient protection against COVID-19 because they are not worn snugly against the face, are not air tight and are usually made of chiffon or other lightweight fabrics. For these reasons they do not effectively block your own respiratory emissions.

The CDC recommends wearing cloth face coverings that are at least 2 plies thick.

For these reasons, wearers of niqabs and coverings like it are required to wear a face mask.

Source: University Facilities

How to Wear Face Coverings

It is important to understand how to effectively put on, take off, clean (as applicable) and discard face coverings. 

Put On Your Face Covering

  • Wash your hands before putting on your face covering
  • Put it over your nose and mouth and secure it under your chin
  • Try to fit it snugly against the sides of your face
  • Make sure you can breathe easily
  • Wear eyeglasses outside of the mask, above or resting on the face covering.
    • To limit fogging, wash your glasses with soapy water, shaking off excess prior to wearing.

Take Off Your Cloth Face Covering Carefully

  • Do not touch the outside of the mask when taking it off. Remove it by the straps.
  • Untie the strings behind your head or stretch the ear loops.
  • Fold outside corners together
  • Place covering in the washing machine (learn more about how to wash cloth face coverings).
  • Be careful not to touch your eyes, nose, and mouth when removing and wash hands immediately after removing.

Source: University Facilities

Watch: University at Buffalo's Guide to Face Coverings

Types of Face Coverings

Cloth Face Mask

cloth face covering.

Cloth face coverings are recommended by the CDC. They reduce the wearer’s spread of respiratory droplets. Cloth face masks should have several layers of fabric and be replaced immediately if ripped or punctured.

They should be regularly laundered (daily if possible) and should hold their shape after laundering. It is safe to launder your face masks along with your regular laundry.

  • Provided to all UB students, faculty and staff.
  • Recommended for UB faculty, staff and students for general use on all UB campuses.
  • Readily available. Easy to make: use multiple fabric layers and have loops or ties to secure it.

Cloth face masks help keep COVID from spreading to others.

Surgical Mask

surgical mask example.

Disposable surgical masks are acceptable for use on UB campuses. These face coverings offer some protection to others from anything exhaled by the wearer. They offer some protection to the wearer from the respiratory emissions of others, especially large droplets or sprays of biological fluids.

  • Recommended for those who work in close physical contact with others.
  • Some availability but in short supply.

Surgical masks protect others from respiratory emissions of the wearer. They provide the wearer with some protection against respiratory emissions of others.

N-95 Respirator Masks

N 95 face mask example.

N-95 respirator masks are generally reserved for high-risk persons and individuals whose work puts them in closer than normal proximity to potential contamination, such as health care workers, first responders, clinical staff, and staff who clean contaminated spaces. N95 respirators must be properly fit in order to be used in a medical context. Please contact UB Environment, Health & Safety (EH&S) for assistance (EHS@facilities.buffalo.edu, 716-829-3301).

  • Protects the wearer from 95% of airborne particles.
  • Recommended for those whose work exposes them to small particles including aerosols and large droplets.
  • Must be properly fit.
  • Limited availability. Primarily reserved for front-line workers and first-responders.

N-95 respirator masks protect the wearer from the finer respiratory droplet emissions of others.

Face Mask Exemptions and Special Accommodations

UB requires every member of the campus community to wear a face mask at all times. Most physicians and medical authorities agree that there are very few medical conditions in which a face mask will be unsafe.

In fact, the American Lung Association has stated that even individuals with underlying chronic lung disease should be able to wear a non-N95 facial covering without affecting their oxygen or carbon dioxide levels.

If you are uncomfortable wearing a face mask, we recommend:

  1. Contact your health care provider. They will be able to provide guidance and assess whether you are eligible for an exemption.
  2. Try different types of face masks. Any of these are suitable if they fit tightly around your face and are made from two-ply fabric: 
  • Cloth masks
  • Store bought
  • Homemade face masks made from bandannas, scarves, hand towels, or any items made of cotton or linen.
  • Surgical or procedural masks
  • N95 masks (generally reserved for front line workers)

In the unlikely event that you suffer from one of these medical conditions, you may be exempt from wearing a face mask if you provide a doctor’s note verifying that you have a medical condition that makes wearing a face mask unsafe. If you think you have cause for a medical exemption:

  • Employees should contact Human Resources for instructions on requesting a face mask exemption. A doctor’s note will be required.
  • Students should contact Health Services or Accessibility Resources. 

If your request for a face mask exemption is approved, you will be provided with a plexiglass or plastic face shield that should be worn at all times on campus.

  • It is important to remember that face shields do not provide as much protection against COVID-19 as a tight fitting, cloth face mask. Before you receive a face shield you be required to sign a document acknowledging that you are aware of this fact.

Be Aware of Campus Sensitivities

If the individual is given an exemption for facial coverings, there is still the chance for confrontation or challenge by members of the UB campus community concerned about you as a potential spreader of infection.

Work-related Exemptions

Cloth face masks may not be enough protection for individuals whose work brings them into higher than average exposure to infectious airborne particles. Examples may include individuals who work on the front lines of health care or in some research laboratories. In these cases, UB will provide you with the appropriate personal protection equipment, including appropriate face coverings.

Face shields may be requested through EH&S.

Contact your supervisor or UB Human Resources at 716-645-7777 for specific guidance regarding your personal work situation.

Face Shields

UB will provide face shields to individuals who have a documented medical reason for being unable to wear a cloth face mask, or for any faculty member who prefers to use a face shield (instead of a cloth face mask) for purposes of lecturing.

Face Shields are not as effective as cloth face masks in preventing exposure to the COVID-19 virus. For this reason, UB will require any employee who requests a Face Shield to sign a disclaimer acknowledging that they are aware of this risk. In addition, we would ask that cloth face masks be worn in place of your face shield whenever possible.

To request a Face Shield, please contact Environmental Health & Safety (EHS@facilities.buffalo.edu) and include:

  1. Name, Unit
  2. Your role (e.g., lecturer, lab instructor, administrative staff, trainer)
  3. Reason for requesting Face Shield
  • Documented medical condition (please contact HR first to obtain instructions for obtaining medical documentation)
  •  Lecturing
  • Other (please explain)

EH&S will review your request and if approved, they will send you Face Shield Acknowledgement form for you to complete and return.

Once all documentation is received, EH&S will send you a Face Shield.

Face Coverings FAQs

  • Do I need to wear a face covering on UB’s campuses?

    All UB students, faculty, staff and visitors are required to wear a face covering at all times when inside all UB buildings, classrooms, labs and facilities, or in outdoor spaces.

    Even when social distancing is possible, face coverings must be worn at all times when in public spaces – indoors or outdoors on UB’s campuses – because the risk of infection still exists at distances greater than six feet.

    All passengers on UB buses and shuttles are required to wear a face mask at all times. UB Stampede and shuttle drivers and passengers are required to wear face coverings at all times.

    Within on-campus dining facilities, individuals should wear face masks until seated at least six feet apart from another individual, and then may remove their masks by necessity when actively eating or drinking. However, we strongly encourage mask usage inside the dining area when not actively eating and drinking. Masks must be worn when entering and exiting the dining area.

  • Will UB supply face masks/coverings?

    The university will provide one reusable face covering to all students, faculty and staff at no cost.  Individuals may choose to wear their own appropriate face covering if desired, provided it meets the criteria for an appropriate face covering.

    • Face shields will be provided if there is a medical reason a person cannot wear a mask.
    • Additional face coverings will be available on campus.

    The university will provide training to students, faculty and staff on how to adequately put on, take off, clean (as applicable) and discard face coverings, per the recommendations of the CDC.

  • Will UB supply face shields if there is a reason a person cannot wear a mask?

    Face shields will be provided if there is a medical reason a person cannot wear a mask.

  • Who is exempt from wearing a face mask during the COVID-19 pandemic?

    At UB, only individuals with a physician’s authorization will be considered for an exemption to our campus mandate to always wear a face mask.

  • I have a medical condition that prevents me from wearing a mask. Can I get an exemption?

    Most healthcare providers, researchers and infectious disease experts agree that there are few medical conditions prevent someone from wearing a mask. While there are some legitimate cases where it could be prohibitive, in general, if someone is well enough to be out in public, they are likely well enough to wear some kind of face covering. If you feel you have a legitimate reason to be exempt from UB’s mandatory face mask guideline, please contact Human Resources for instruction. A physican’s note will be required.

  • Face masks are dangerous because they restrict oxygen and expose me to dangerous levels of carbon dioxide from my exhalations.

    Masks are not air tight. Oxygen and carbon dioxide molecules are small enough to easily pass through a face covering. If masks made it impossible to breathe, then any surgeon, any nurse, any lab technician, any person who works in a job that requires them to wear a mask would be passing out.

  • If I wear a face mask, does that mean I don’t need to keep a 6 foot physical distance from others?

    No. Face masks and social distancing work together to protect us from infection. If you wear a face mask on campus, thank you. But you must also maintain a safe (6 foot) physical distance from others.

  • Wearing a face mask impinges on my individual freedom.

    Striking a balance between individual liberty and collective safety is a challenge. Your individual concerns should be weighed against the need of the UB community to mitigate spread of the virus. Wearing a mask is a minimal sacrifice to protect us all. Further, many members of our community view it as a violation of their human rights to be exposed to potential infection from those who will not wear face masks. Like face masks, seat belts don’t guarantee your safety, but give you much better odds of surviving an accident or avoiding more serious injury. One big difference: Masks also help protect other people.

  • What kind of fabric is best for face masks?

    Thicker, more densely woven cotton fabrics are best, such as quilting cotton or cotton sheets.

    Stretchy knits aren’t ideal.

    Hold the fabric up to the light: The fewer tiny holes you can see, the better it will work to filter droplets.

    Overall, making a good mask involves finding a balance: You want fabric that doesn’t allow droplets to pass through while ensuring you can still breathe properly with your mask in place.

  • What should I look for if I want to buy a face mask?

    • Look for masks made with at least 2 layers of fabric.
    • It should cover your nose and mouth without large gaps.
    • The mask should have ear loops or ties so you can adjust it.
    • For people who wear glasses, look for a mask with a bendable border at the top so you can mold the mask to fit the bridge of your nose and prevent your glasses from fogging.
    • Professional masks should be reserved for health care workers on the front lines caring for patients.
  • Is wearing a niqab or scarf alone as safe as wearing a cloth face mask?

    A protective face mask is meant to fit snug around your face. Additionally, it should be at least two-ply cloth. If your niqab, scarf or veil drapes and does not fit snugly, or if it is made of chiffon, georgette or other thin fabric, you should wear a face mask. If the fabric is thick enough, you can always pin your niqab or scarf to tighten it around your nose and mouth.

  • My head covering fits tightly against my head, making it hard to put on and take off face masks with ear loops. Are there other options?

    Look for cloth face masks that tie behind your head.

    Affix buttons or other fixture to the outside of your head covering and loop your ear loops around them to hold your face mask in place.

    Use an extender with your cloth face mask. It will allow masks with ear loops to be clasped behind the head. There are many do-it-yourself ideas on the web.

  • What should I do if I see construction workers on UB campuses who are not wearing face masks?

    All campus visitors, including vendors and contractors, are required to abide by UB’s health and safety guidelines, including wearing face masks on UB campuses. Some construction or trade workers on campus, however, are bound by requirements (New York state or OSHA) that may differ somewhat from UB’s health and safety guidelines. Construction work should always be taking place in areas fenced off from the general campus population. Within those fenced off areas, workers are required to abide by New York state and OSHA COVID-19 guidelines. As soon as those workers leave the fenced work area, however, they are required to follow UB health and safety guidelines, including wearing face masks at all times.

    If you notice construction or trade workers outside their work area who are not wearing face masks, please contact Environmental Health & Safety (EH&S).

  • Where can I get a face mask on campus?

    The university has provided one reusable face covering to each student, faculty and staff member at no cost. The university recommends that individuals bring additional face coverings to ensure you always have a clean one on hand. Anyone can purchase a face mask at the following locations:

    Retail locations:

    • The Elli (Ellicott Complex)
    • Teddy’s (Governors) 
    • Campus Tees (Student Union)

    Vending machines (disposable masks):

    • Clement Hall
    • Ellicott Food Court South (by Perks)
    • Jacobs School of Medicine and Biomedical Sciences 
    • Knox Lecture Hall
    • Main Street Market (South Campus)
    • Natural Science Building
    • Student Union (second floor)

    Employees:

    Reusable face masks have been delivered by Campus Mail to all UB units for distribution to their faculty and staff. If you did not receive yours, please check with your supervisor or Unit Business Officer (UBO). Additional face masks are available for purchase on campus.

    Units wishing to purchase additional face masks in bulk should work directly with UB Purchasing.


    Students:  

    • On-Campus resident: Campus Living will be distributing masks to on-campus residents
    • Graduate students: Graduate programs will be distributing masks to students in the following schools:
      • School of Dental Medicine
      • School of Law
      • School of Social Work
      • Students, learn more about where to get face masks on the UB Student Guide web page.

    After the start of the semester (week of 8/31/2020): Students can receive one mask at no cost from the following locations:

    • Welcome tents/tables on campus (August 28-September 4)
    • In front of the Student Union
    • Founder’s Plaza outside of Capen Hall
    • Near the Main Circle on South Campus
    • Student Union Welcome Center inside
    • 1 Capen
    • 1 Diefendorf (South Campus)
    • Buses and shuttles on campus
    • Libraries
Face masks or coverings are required to be worn at all times on UB campuses.

Exceptions

Face Mask Exceptions

It is generally safe to remove face masks if you are:

  • in your own residence hall room or apartment alone or with a roommate
  • alone in an enclosed private office or other enclosed space (e.g. study room)
  • in a private vehicle
  • when eating or drinking in dining facilities and seated 6 feet away from others