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Updated guidance on face coverings in Stanford facilities in Palo Alto and in other parts of main campus

Categories: Health & safety, Workplace & HR

Last modified on

Effective noon on May 13, 2020, Stanford facilities located in the City of Palo Alto are subject to new face coverings requirements for essential businesses.

Highlights of the order include required use of face coverings when:

  • Working in or walking through common areas such as hallways, stairways, elevators, and parking facilities;
  • Occupying any room or enclosed area when other people (except for members of the person’s own household or residence) are present including coworkers; and
  • Working in any space where food is prepared or packaged for sale or distribution to others.

NOTE: For clarity, a face covering is not required when a person is in a personal office (a single room) when others outside of that person’s household are not present as long as the public and coworkers do not regularly visit the room. Face coverings are required when out in public and recommended, but not required, while conducting outdoor recreational activities, including walking, hiking, biking, or running.

See full detailed requirements listed in the City of Palo Alto Order ID # 11334.

In addition Stanford has further updated the requirements for face coverings on the main campus in Santa Clara County:

When are face coverings required on main campus in Santa Clara County?

Based on local regulations, face coverings must be worn in all Stanford buildings except residences, where different rules apply:

Note: A face covering is not required when a person is in a personal office (a single room) as long as the public does not regularly visit the room and the door is closed.

Instances of where it is not appropriate to wear a face covering include:

  • People who cannot wear a face covering for health reasons, including:
    • Anyone who has been advised by a medical professional not to wear a face covering; students in this situation should follow up with the Office of Accessible Education (OAE) to receive an accommodation, and employees should contact their HR manager; or
    • Anyone who has trouble breathing, is incapacitated, or otherwise unable to remove a face covering without assistance;
  • Any worker to the extent wearing a face covering creates a safety hazard at work under established health and safety guidelines;
  • While eating or drinking; or
  • Children 2 years old or younger

For clarity, although wearing a face covering is one tool for reducing the spread of the virus, doing so is not a substitute for physical distancing of at least 6 feet and frequent hand washing.

Are face coverings required outside on the main campus in Santa Clara County?

Face coverings are required outside when unable to maintain 6 feet of physical distancing. Student household members have the privilege of gathering together outdoors without face coverings; however, face coverings must be worn when in proximity to others not in the household.

NOTE: Face coverings are not required when exercising outdoors (e.g., walking, hiking, biking, running), provided persons are not passing within 6 feet of others. Regardless, people are recommended to have a face covering with them and readily accessible when exercising, even if they’re not wearing it at that moment.

For information regarding obtaining face coverings for all Stanford sites, see the following information:

Can I wear my own face covering?

 Yes, you are allowed to wear a personally owned cloth face covering. There are several options for face coverings, as long as they cover the nose and mouth. Face coverings can be made of a variety of cloth materials, such as bandanas, scarves, T-shirts, sweatshirts or towels.

The CDC has provided simple instructions on how to make your own face covering:

Is Stanford providing face coverings?

We encourage you to provide your own face covering wherever possible, and many members of our community have already purchased or made them for their use outside of Stanford. As mentioned above, many options are available. The university is working to obtain additional face coverings and currently has a limited supply available, prioritized for front-line workers who are not able to maintain physical distancing during assigned duties. Department managers can request disposable face coverings via and Environmental Health & Safety will work with each department on their specific needs.

For a limited time, there will be face coverings available for students who have not yet been able to obtain their own. Students may check at their residential dining halls or front desks, and can also seek further help from their Residence Dean or GLO Dean.

How do I choose the best face covering for me?

CDC has the following minimum criteria for face coverings:

  • fits snugly but comfortably against the side of the face
  • completely covers the nose and mouth
  • is secured with ties or ear loops
  • includes multiple layers of fabric. The World Health Organization (WHO) recommends 3-ply face coverings for individuals without respiratory conditions. 
  • allows for breathing without restriction
  • can be laundered and machine dried without damage or change to shape

Breathability and comfort for wearers should be prioritized when selecting a face covering. Consider choosing fabric materials that effectively capture respiratory droplets and remain easy to breathe through while covering the nose and mouth. Additionally, personal comfort, material durability, and ability to clean the face covering should be considered when selecting a face covering.

Do face coverings/masks with an exhalation valve provide the same public health protection as one without an exhalation valve?

While the exhalation valve reduces air resistance when exhaling, face coverings/ masks with an exhalation valve are not designed to contain respiratory droplets. Because of this, face coverings/masks with exhalation valves are not recommended for preventing the community spread of COVID.