Last modified on
Effective August 2 at midnight, face coverings are mandatory indoors for both vaccinated and unvaccinated individuals per Santa Clara County Public Health and San Mateo County Public Health orders. Individuals are not required to wear face coverings while alone in a closed private office or room, or while actively eating or drinking in a designated break area.
Stanford also strongly recommends wearing face coverings outdoors in crowded settings when 6 feet of distance from others cannot be maintained.
Stanford has a supply of N95 respirators and KN95, disposable surgical and reusable two-ply face coverings. Local units will coordinate with their staff on how to make requests and students may request through Residential & Dining Enterprises student housing front desks.
Click here to read the full 08/02/21 announcement.
Face Coverings: While vaccination is the most effective step we can take to minimize the spread of the highly transmissible Delta variant, masking provides an extra level of protection and helps keep our community safe.
In compliance with Santa Clara and San Mateo counties August 2 face covering guidance, all faculty, staff, students, contractors, and visitors must continue to wear face coverings in the following settings, regardless of vaccination status:
- When indoors
- When on public transportation, including Marguerite and Stanford Shuttles
- When in healthcare facilities
- In the case of an outbreak
Exceptions in which face coverings are not required to be worn include the following:
- When outdoors (however, Stanford strongly recommends wearing face coverings outdoors in crowded settings when 6 feet of distance from others cannot be maintained)
- When alone in a room/private office with the door closed or university vehicle/cart
- When actively eating/ drinking
- For children two years old or younger
- When wearing a face covering would cause an unsafe condition*, or
- If there is a medical or mental health exception*. For 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.
*In these cases, such individuals must maintain physical distancing from others, OR are required to complete COVID-19 testing on a weekly basis.
This guidance may continue to evolve as California and/ or University requirements change.
Types of Face Coverings
Special Provisions for N95 Respirator Use
Types of face coverings
Face coverings used at Stanford must meet the following minimum CDC/ WHO criteria:
- Fit snugly against the sides of your face and does not have gaps around the nose and chin.
- Completely cover the nose and mouth.
- Acceptable types include cloth masks with tightly woven fabric (i.e., cotton) with minimum two layers, disposable/surgical face masks, and masks with inner filter pockets.
- NOTE: A face covering does not include a scarf, ski mask, balaclava, bandana, turtleneck, collar or single layer of fabric.
Do not choose masks that have any of the following characteristics:
- Fit loosely on your face with large gaps around the nose and chin.
- Are made of fabric that is hard to breathe through.
- Have exhalation valves or vents that allow viral particles to escape.
You can also consider commercially available disposable masks (e.g., KN95, FFP2, KF95).
Special provisions for N95 respirator use
As N95 respirators are designated as personal respiratory protection, workplace provision of N95s must adhere to SU’s Respiratory Protection Program.
During pandemic recovery
Departments are to provide required use of N95 respirators to employees where identified jobs have high potential for exposure to known or suspected sources of COVID-19 (e.g., clinical respiratory droplet/ aerosol-generating activities).
Additionally, Stanford has a supply of voluntary use N95 respirators and KN95, disposable surgical and reusable two-ply face coverings. Local units will coordinate with their staff on how to make requests. Students can make requests through their Residential & Dining Enterprises student housing front desk.
During wildfire smoke events
- When the local AirNow Air Quality Index (AQI) consistently remains greater than 151,
- N95 respirators shall be made available for voluntary use for staff assigned work outdoors or in campus buildings with unfiltered air for more than 1 hour per work shift as per Cal/OSHA.
- For non critical operations, re-assign staff to work in filtered air location or inform staff not to report for on-site work.
- When the local AirNow Air Quality Index (AQI) consistently remains greater than 500, N95 respirators use is required for the critical operations that must continue to resume, as required by Cal/OSHA.
For support with KN95 or N95 respirator procurement, departments can reach out to EOC Logistics (firstname.lastname@example.org).
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. Minimum requirements for face coverings are addressed below.
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. The university has a limited supply of face coverings available. Department managers can request reusable and disposable face coverings via email@example.com 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?
Face coverings used at Stanford must meet the following minimum CDC/ WHO criteria:
- fits snugly against the sides of your face and does not have gaps
- completely covers the nose and mouth
- includes multiple layers of fabric (2 or more).
Do not choose masks that:
- Are made of fabric that makes it hard to breathe (e.g., vinyl)
- Have exhalation valves or vents that allow virus particles to escape
- Are intended for the healthcare workers, including N95 respirators or surgical masks
What extra elements should I consider when choosing a face covering?
The most important consideration when selecting your face covering is the fit to face. While medical-grade masks and N95 respirators are conserved for the healthcare setting, consider the following elements when selecting a face covering:
- Masks that fit properly (snugly around the nose and chin with no large gaps around the sides of the face)
- Masks with a nose wire or fit closely over the nose to limit fogging for individuals that wear glasses
- Masks with two or more layers of breathable fabric (e.g., cotton) or tightly woven fabric (i.e., fabrics that do not let light pass through when held up to a light source)
- Masks with inner filter pockets
Alternatively, you can consider commercially available disposable masks (e.g., FFP2, KN95, KF94).
Are face coverings with exhalation valves or vents allowed on campus?
While the exhalation valve reduces air resistance when exhaling, they 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-19 and are not appropriate face coverings on campus.
Should I double mask or knot the ear loops on my face covering?
Cloth and medical style disposable masks both work well in preventing airborne respiratory droplet spread, but having a close fit is important in making sure they work properly. The fit of the masks you currently wear can be improved by making sure that they are well-fitted to the curves of the face, preventing leakage of air around the mask’s edges especially around the nose and chin.
CDC researchers have found two ways to improve the fit of these masks and reduce the spread of respiratory droplet particles by up to 95%:
1) Double masking by wearing a cloth mask over a disposable face mask
Note: Individuals should avoid double masking combinations that result in uncomfortable breathing resistance, obstruct peripheral vision, or might otherwise impact long-term wearability.
2) Knotting or looping the ends of the ear loops of a disposable face mask where they attach to the mask’s edges and then tucking in and flattening the extra material close to the face (knotted and tucked masks, view instructional video here).
Note: This option is more suited for those with smaller faces.
For support in procurement of disposable face masks, departments can contact EOC Logistics (firstname.lastname@example.org). Guidance on reuse of face coverings is available here.