Face Coverings-Masks Toolkit
Examples of Possible Scenarios
Grand Valley State University's approach to risk mitigation for COVID-19 is based on the principle of the four legs of a table: hygiene, self-assessments, social distancing, and face coverings such as masks. The evidence is clear that face coverings, such as masks, are a crucial part of keeping coronavirus at bay, and GVSU's policy on face coverings is posted on the Lakers Together web site. GVSU's approach to ensure that all four "legs" are strong is to emphasize education, to develop a culture of wellness and care. The purpose of this Toolkit is to provide information and guidance for faculty and staff, especially as it applies to the classroom.
This web page will be updated from time-to-time. Send any comments about this Toolkit to Associate Vice President Ed Aboufadel. For other comments about GVSU's preparations for Fall 2020, use this e-mail: email@example.com.
What We Know About COVID-19
To create a safe campus, it is critical to understand how risk mitigation strategies work to prevent the spread of the coronavirus. With this knowledge, we can make better decisions. The following videos can help. Articles are at the end of this Toolkit.
What is a coronavirus?
COVID-19 spread, and being smart about cloth face coverings, from the American Chemical Society
Spectrum Health doctor discusses face coverings on WOOD TV-8
How COVID-19 infects the lungs
Lakers Together: Face Coverings
Some face coverings to avoid
Compliance In the Classroom
We must take a precautionary approach to our classrooms. The coronavirus spreads primarily through the air, often from infected individuals with no symptoms, so face coverings are a crucial part of preventing transmission. As indoor spaces, face coverings are required in all classrooms and other learning spaces.
GVSU has adopted an education-first approach to ensuring compliance with our policy on face coverings. Messages stressing the importance of face coverings are being shared with the campus community, and all students can acquire a free GVSU mask. GVSU's Face Covering Compliance Protocol has been published by Human Resources. A pdf of the protocol can be downloaded and will be posted around campus.
Here are additional recommendations for ensuring compliance in the classroom. Our approach is to use reason and education first.
Reason and Education
- Throughout the first week of class, faculty are strongly recommended to discuss the wearing of face coverings in the classroom. Videos and other educational tools are available in the "What We Know" and "Articles" sections of this web page, and FAQ's are at the bottom of this page. This web page can be shared in class.
- Emphasis is on creating a culture of safety, wellness, inclusivity, respect and accountability, with a restorative approach.
- On a given day, a simple reminder may be sufficient.
- Other educational responses:
- "I understand wearing a face covering is an inconvenience, but it is required in classrooms and public spaces. I know you may find this inconvenient or objectionable, but under the circumstances we believe the added safety is worth any inconvenience. This is not simply a matter of personal choice; a face covering protects others."
- "Although you may disagree with this or question the face covering’s effectiveness, we’re choosing to err on the side of safety at GVSU. We believe this simple act of safety and courtesy is one that we can all undertake together."
- Ask curiosity questions:
- Is there a reason you’re unable to wear a face covering?
- I would feel more comfortable while we are talking if you would wear a face covering; did you bring one with you?
Providing A Mask if Needed
- If a student forgets to bring their face covering to class, disposable face masks are available in all campus offices.
Leaving the Classroom
- It may need to be said that part of the arrangement to offer classes face-to-face is that all must comply with the face covering policy. As an alternative to this arrangement, face coverings are not required for online courses. Students who may wish to change their course schedules in light of this policy should be directed to contact their faculty or professional advisor for help with rescheduling.
- A student who continues to not wear face coverings may be asked by faculty to leave class that day. The faculty member should follow-up with the student to convey expectations regarding future classroom behavior. That follow-up may be done in concert with others at the university.
Student Conduct Violations and Other Options
- It may be necessary to remind students of several aspects of prohibited behavior in the student conduct code. Violations can lead to sanctions.
- Disruptions: Substantial disruption of University operations or activities including obstruction of teaching, research, administration, other authorized activities, either outdoors or inside a classroom, office, or other place on which University operations or activities or operations are conducted or held. (STU 2.2.3)
- Harm to Persons: Intentionally or recklessly causing physical harm or endangering the health or safety of any person. (STU 2.4.1)
- Health and Safety: Creation of health and/or safety hazards. (STU 2.5.5)
- It may be necessary to remind students that a willful violation of the requirement to wear a face coverings indoors is a misdemeanor subject to a $500 criminal penalty.
- In rare situations, rather than quarrel, class may be ended prematurely or Public Safety may need to be involved.
- More suggestions for de-escalating public conflicts.
Suggested Syllabus Language
Face coverings, such as masks, are required to be worn in the classroom. Students who have forgotten their face coverings may get a disposable mask at a campus office. The evidence is clear that face coverings are a crucial part of keeping coronavirus at bay and support the university’s commitment to providing all members of its community with an inclusive living and learning environment with equitable opportunities for success. GVSU's policy on face coverings is posted on the Lakers Together web site. Students who are not able to wear a face covering due to a medical condition should contact Disability Support Services (DSR) to discuss their individual situation.
Teaching with Face Coverings and Social Distancing
GVSU's Pew Faculty and Teaching Learning Center can assist faculty in addressing how to approach face-to-face teaching in socially-distanced classrooms with individuals wearing face coverings.
Teaching in a Physically Distanced Classroom (University of South Florida)
Active Learning While Physically Distancing (crowd-sourced article)
A Dry Run at a Socially Distanced Classroom (Inside Higher Ed)
Active Learning in Hybrid and Physically Distanced Classrooms (Vanderbilt University)
Considerations Outside of the Classroom
According to the GVSU Face Covering Policy, "Face coverings are not required when:
- In residence halls when in a personal room, suite or apartment.
- In dining areas, while eating and drinking.
- Outdoors when social distancing is possible."
Further discussion about risk mitigation outdoors: Exercising Outdoors in a Face Mask, The New York Times (April 10, 2020)
Employees and Face Coverings
As with our classrooms, we must take a precautionary approach in all work spaces. The coronavirus spreads primarily through the air, often from infected individuals with no symptoms, so face coverings are a crucial part of preventing transmission.
To supervisors: During this time, be kind and give reminders if someone forgot or doesn’t follow new safety protocols or policies like wearing a face covering. Be patient, empathetic and kind with each other. Some may struggle more than others.
With our education first approach, supervisors can share with the employee some of the information this web page, such as the videos linked in the "What We Know" section. If the employee states they have a medical reason for not wearing one, they must have been granted an accommodation from Disability Support Resources after providing documentation from a medical professional. They can be sent home using their own vacation time, until a determination is made.
In the situation of blatant disregard for the GVSU face covering policy by an employee, for all supervisors considering discipline, please refer to the existing collective bargaining agreements or employee handbooks as due process is clearly outlined in these documents. Contact Deb Sanders in Human Resources with questions or concerns. BOT 4.1.4: General personnel policies for faculty and staff-disciplinary procedure.
Avoiding Face Covering Fatigue
- Instructors should consider scheduling class breaks so that students can go outside for a few minutes. This will help address face covering fatigue, as well as providing opportunities to stay hydrated.
- Staff will need breaks to address face covering fatigue and to stay hydrated.
In the Classroom -- Face Coverings/Masks
General -- Face Coverings/Masks
Articles About COVID-19
Masks Do More Than Protect Others During COVID-19 (July 31, 2020)
Reducing transmission of SARS-CoV-2, Science Magazine (June 26, 2020)
COVID-19 and aerosols, Time (August 25, 2020)
NPR: As Colleges Make Plans For Fall, More Young People Are Getting COVID-19 (includes four-minute audio version)