Masking

Masking Update, June 10, 2022

  • We will begin the first summer session with masks required in all in-person classes, instructional labs, and performance spaces being used for academic programs, including spaces where in-person examinations are held. 
  • Masking is no longer required for much of the campus.
  • Masking remains required:
    • in classes, instructional labs, and performance spaces being used for academic programs, including spaces where in-person examinations are held;
    • during posted hours in the Retriever Activities Center (Monday – Friday, 9 a.m. – 11 a.m.);
    • in healthcare settings; and
    • on UMBC Transit.
  • We ask that all in our community Keep Masks in Mind by carrying a mask with them and respecting one another.
  • When you need to mask, we continue to encourage you to select a high-quality mask. Free KN95 masks are available on campus.
  • Departments wishing to request a supply of masks must call Facilities Management Work Control at 410-455-2550 to arrange a time to pick up masks.
  • Free KN95 masks are available during business hours at the following locations:
    1. The Police Station front counter
    2. Campus Card and Dining Services
    3. Retriever Activities Center
    4. The Commons Information Center
    5. Albin O. Kuhn Library Circulation Desk
  • You can wear a KN95 mask multiple times. More information on proper use of KN95 masks is available here. The University makes every effort to procure approved (i.e., not counterfeit) masks using a variety of standards.
  • KN95 equivalent masks include: an N95, KN95, or KF94 mask, FFP2-3, or a double surgical mask.
  • Additional information on masks is available in the frequently asked questions below.
  • Keep Masks in Mind by:
    • Carrying a mask with you at all times.
    • When you’re in a meeting or a gathering, asking other people if they would be more comfortable if you wear a mask.
    • Respecting people who choose to mask.
    • Respecting requests from others who ask you to wear a mask.
    • Wearing a mask if you have recently recovered from COVID-19, know you have recently been exposed, or have symptoms.
  • Frequently Asked Questions

  • When everyone occupying a shared breathing space wears a mask and maintains social distance, we reduce the threat of sharing the virus.
    • When we wear a mask and keep social distance, we protect other people around us in case any of us may be infected.
    • We primarily transmit the coronavirus to others by spreading infected respiratory droplets when we breath, speak, cough, and sneeze.
    • Spread of the virus is more likely among people in close contact. This means being within six feet of someone for more than 15 cumulative minutes in a 24 hour period.
    • Combining masks with social distancing helps prevent the spread of droplets into shared breathing space.
    • Appropriate use of face masks or coverings is critical in minimizing risk to others near you.
  • We can spread the virus to others even if we are asymptomatic.
    • Asymptomatic means we may be infected with the virus and able to spread infected droplets to others even if we don’t feel sick.
    • There is no way to know if we are asymptomatic without being tested, and no way to know if others around us are asymptomatic either.
    • The safest behavior is to assume that everyone in our shared breathing space may be infected with the virus.
  • Masks are required to be worn in classes, instructional labs, performance spaces, designated masking areas, healthcare settings, and on UMBC Transit. While masks are not generally required outdoors, some events and activities may require outdoor masking.
  • Masks must cover your nose and mouth.
  • Follow all seating plans, including during events, and posted campus signage.
  • Be aware of signs posted on campus providing specific requirements for food service areas, common areas, and other public spaces.
  • When occupying an indoor space alone (unless there are specific safety requirements for your activity like research or construction).
  • When outdoors and social distancing can be assured.
  • In private rooms in residence halls.
  • The message must be consistently stated that “my mask protects you; your mask protects me; our masks protect each other.”
  • Recognize that wearing a mask can be difficult. Masks:
    • Are not convenient and can be uncomfortable.
    • Can be difficult for people who wear glasses (fogging).
    • Can make speaking difficult and prevent eating and drinking.
    • Can worsen breathing problems, anxiety, or fatigue.
    • Can be conflated with political beliefs or beliefs about civil liberties.
  • Everyone can lead by example:
    • We can manage our own personal space and, when possible, create more distance between ourselves and someone without a mask.
    • If we cannot manage distance, exercise courtesy when asking a person to use a mask; respect from both parties is essential.
    • Empathize with people who experience difficulties wearing masks, acknowledge their concerns, and suggest increasing distance.
    • Remind each other that these are behaviors we all agreed upon in order to be on campus.
  • Recognize what DOES NOT work:
    • Don’t engage in arguments or escalate a confrontation.
    • Don’t attempt to shame someone; this strengthens resistance.
    • Don’t make assumptions about why someone isn’t wearing a mask

  • Refusal to follow the rules for masks and social distancing can jeopardize the health or safety of one’s self or others and disrupt University activity.
  • Faculty and staff may refer to the Behavioral Risk Assessment and Consultation Team (BRACT) guide for help in dealing with disruptive individuals.
  • University officials should try to de-escalate these situations by offering to provide a mask if the individual does not have one.
  • Officials will work to determine if there are reasonable circumstances for not following mask requirements like breathing problems, anxiety, or other health concerns.  Situations like these may be resolved with referral assistance.
  • Intentionally disruptive, non-compliant behavior may result in removal from campus.
  • Public health concerns and increased vulnerability of some community members may make it necessary to call University Police if someone chooses not to follow the rules for masks and social distancing.
  • Informal gatherings must utilize masks when social distancing is not possible. Gatherings that do not follow the guidance stated in the UMBC Code of Student Conduct will be dispersed.

For more information on appropriate on-campus conduct, please see The UMBC Code of Student Conduct, which includes a COVID-19 addendum.

Please remember that masking is a CDC-recommended protocol to ensure the safety of our community members on campus.

Masking Exemptions: Given its importance as a key campus safety measure, there is not a process for community members to request exemptions from mask-wearing. If a community member has a documented disability that requires accommodation, they should work with the Office of Accessibility and Disability Services or the Office of Student Disabilities Services to explore alternative options.

Current Information on Prolonged Mask-Wearing: We acknowledge and understand that some have concerns about wearing a mask for extended periods of time. At this time we believe that multiple studies have found that the general population is not at increased risk of lower oxygen levels or higher carbon dioxide levels when wearing a mask. Furthermore, there is currently no information among healthcare professionals, educators who taught in-person over the past year, and other service workers who participated in strenuous activities while wearing masks, that indicates that prolonged mask-wearing has negative effects. Community members are welcome to take a mask-wearing break outdoors if needed, but are also encouraged to continually maintain physical distancing.

According to the CDC: “wearing a mask does not raise the carbon dioxide (CO2) level in the air you breathe. Cloth masks and surgical masks do not provide an airtight fit across the face. The CO2 escapes into the air through the mask when you breathe out or talk. CO2 molecules are small enough to easily pass through mask material. In contrast, the respiratory droplets that carry the virus that causes COVID-19 are much larger than CO2, so they cannot pass as easily through a properly designed and properly worn mask.”

  • When you need to mask, we continue to encourage you to select a high-quality mask. Free KN95 masks are available on campus.

Given the short amount of time spent in elevators, the University does not have protocols in place or occupancy limits on elevators. Masks are required on all elevators and we encourage community members to attempt – as much as possible – to limit the number of individuals in an elevator to allow for at least 3 feet of distancing. Elevator surfaces and buttons are included in the university’s cleaning protocols.