John B Stetson statue with mask

Face Coverings Policy

Mask Up, Hatters! Masking is a critical public health tool for preventing spread of COVID-19. There have been consistent messages from federal, state and local health authorities about face coverings and other preventive measures to keep yourself and the community safe. Omicron continues to be much more transmissible than other COVID-19 variants, including Delta. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention reports the sudden rise in cases due to Omicron is resulting in unprecedented daily case counts, sickness, absenteeism, and strains on our health care system.

What you can do:

  • Wear a face covering
  • Wash your hands for at least 20 seconds (or using alcohol-based hand sanitizer when washing hands is not possible)
  • Physically distance at least 6 feet
  • Get vaccinated or boosted

Tier 4 – Masks Required Indoors 

Effective Wednesday, February 16th, 2022, face coverings are mandatory only in classrooms and individual offices or residential spaces, based on individual preference.

In response to sustained encouraging COVID-19 trends, Stetson University has authorized less restrictive protocols for face coverings in our continued effort to balance necessary community safeguards and individual liberty. This move applies to most campus areas, including dining areas, libraries, indoor events, common areas and residential building community-use spaces. 

As a reminder, face coverings continue to be required in   

  • Classrooms
  • Personal office and residential spaces, based on occupant preference

Stetson recommends all unvaccinated persons wear face coverings in higher-risk situations. The university reserves the right to alter these protocols based on COVID-19 trends, health guidance, state laws and federal compliance requirements. 

Facial coverings remain in place in Tier 4 due to the current positivity rates and high transmission rate in Volusia, Pinellas, and Hillsborough County. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, “Everyone, regardless of vaccination status, should wear a mask in public, indoor settings in areas of substantial or high transmission rate”

Review more about Tier 4 here.

Stetson strongly encourages the use of respirators (such as N95 and KN95), especially in classroom settings (see below). Stetson also recommends all unvaccinated persons wear face coverings in higher risk situations. The university reserves the right to alter these protocols based on COVID-19 trends, health guidance, state laws and federal compliance requirements.

Concerns about community members not wearing face coverings? 

Why Face Coverings?

Mask requirements are part of Stetson’s temporary enhanced health and safety protocols during a period of increased COVID-19 infection rates due to the Omicron variant locally and nationally. Remember, face coverings should be multi-layered and cover the nose and mouth. Neck gaiters, face masks with exhalation valves, and face shields (unless used in conjunction with an acceptable cloth face covering) are not sufficient as a facial covering.

Learn more information on cleaning face coverings.

It is important to properly wear a face covering. The CDC recommends washing hands before putting on a face covering, ensuring that it fits properly, removing the face covering without touching the face, and washing hands after removal. The CDC’s detailed guide for proper use of face coverings is available.

Stetson Encourages Use of Higher Quality N95 and KN95 Masks

Stetson University strongly encourages the use of respirators (such as N95 and KN95), especially in classroom settings, as they are proven to be highly effective on containing the spread of COVID-19 and all of its variants.

Due to the increased transmissibility of the Omicron variant, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention are considering updating their recommendations on N95 respirators (and similar) for the general public. Their current recommendation states: “When supplies are available, individuals may choose to use a basic disposable N95 respirator for personal use, instead of a mask, in some situations”.

What is the difference between masks and N95 respirators?

  • Masks, including the cloth and surgical masks that are commonly seen, are designed to contain your respiratory droplets and particles. They also provide you some protection from particles expelled by others. 
  • Respirators, such as the N95, made in the U.S. and KN95, made in China, are designed to protect you from particles, filtering out +90% of respiratory droplets, including the virus that causes COVID-19. In doing so, they also contain your respiratory droplets and particles so you do not expose others. 

What to know about N95’s and KN95’s:

  • Filter up to 95% of particles in the air when approved by NIOSH and proper fit can be achieved
  • Seal tightly to the face when fitted properly
  • Since they form a seal to the face, they may feel harder to breathe through than a cloth mask
  • Cannot be washed. They need to be discarded when they are dirty, damaged, or difficult to breathe through
  • Tend to be more expensive than masks

More information on masks and respirators can be found at CDC - Facial Coverings.

Bystander Intervention

Bystander Intervention is our best strategy to help our community be mindful about wearing face coverings. We encourage community members to calmly suggest a face covering be worn if someone is not wearing one in a public shared space (always assess your own safety first). You could start by asking the person if they have a face covering with them. With face coverings, it helps to point out that you wear a face covering to protect other people and that COVID-19 can be transmitted when someone is not demonstrating any symptoms of infection.

Stetson University encourages a community that supports and cares for its members. The Stetson Report It website is a place where anyone can report concern for a Stetson student.

  • The Report a COVID Health Concern form can be used to report positive cases and exposures of COVID-19 to the university so that resources can be given and follow up occur.  
  • The Report a COVID Policy Violation form is available for anyone in the community wanting to report a concern for a fellow community member (faculty, staff, students) not following current Stetson University COVID-19 guidelines. Concerns reported regarding faculty and staff will be directed to Human Resources and concerns for students will be sent to the Office of Community Standards (Deland) or the Assistant Dean for Student Affairs (Gulfport). 

Stetson’s Code of Community Standards is designed to increase awareness, understanding, and safety among students and the university community. It applies to student behavior on and off campus. The Office of Community Standards COVID Policy Addendum can be found on the Office of Community Standards website. 

You may also report concerns about community members not wearing face coverings to:

While disciplinary action may be a possibility for the refusal to wear a face covering, our primary focus is on promoting awareness of the reasons for face coverings in order to encourage personal responsibility and voluntary compliance with our face covering policies.