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New Rules on Face Coverings

Note: This is dated information and may not reflect the current policies in place on campus. Please refer to We Are WPI for the latest information.

September 21, 2020

This message was recently sent to all students and all employees.

Recent changes in guidance from the Centers for Disease Control (CDC) about the effectiveness of certain face coverings to reduce the spread of COVID-19 has prompted WPI to modify the allowable face covering options that can be worn on campus.

Starting immediately and based on the CDC’s most recent guidance, vented masks, gaiters, and bandanas will not be allowed to be used as protective face coverings on the WPI campus.

The CDC recently warned that masks with exhalation valves or vents do not prevent the person wearing the mask from transmitting COVID-19 to others and so should not be used. The effectiveness of bandanas and gaiters is under question. Therefore, given the potentially increased risk of aerosol transmission associated with these types of facial coverings, neither is acceptable as a face covering for use on campus. 

Cloth face coverings, especially two- and three-ply coverings, are recommended.

Correctly wearing proper face coverings is a key part of our efforts to take care of our community. The new guidance will match WPI’s continued commitment to fostering a safe campus environment for students, faculty, and staff and is in accordance with current state and local public safety guidelines.

These changes in allowable face covering don’t impact standard requirements on campus. Wearing cloth face coverings is required in all spaces on campus and is especially important when physical distancing of 6 feet is not possible or when you are in a shared or closed space (e.g., conference rooms, common areas, kitchenettes, hallways, stairwells, elevators, restrooms, control rooms, and WPI-owned vehicles). You are not required to wear a cloth face covering if you are sitting alone in a private office or residence, or if you have a disability accommodation from WPI because of a medical condition or another reason that would make wearing one unsafe.

Students and employees are advised to avoid touching their eyes, nose, or mouth when putting on and removing their face coverings. They should also wash their hands immediately before and after removing their face coverings. Face coverings should be changed daily and stored in a clean paper bag when not in use. Disposable face coverings should be discarded daily.

Make sure your face covering:

  • Fits snugly but comfortably against the sides of your face and covers your nose, mouth, and chin
  • Fastens securely with ties or ear loops
  • Includes multiple layers of fabric
  • Allows for breathing without restriction
  • Can be laundered without damage or change to shape, if they are reusable.

Wearing a face covering does not replace the need to maintain physical distancing and observing other safety protocols in shared spaces.

Every employee, every faculty member, every student, and every visitor to our campus will play a role in WPI’s success in adapting to a new way of learning, working, and interacting. Until there is a reliable vaccine, we all must continue to follow the health and behavior guidelines from our local, state, and federal public health partners.



WPI Health Services Team