Additional information on face covering guidance

masked student in lab
Wednesday, May 26, 2021

Dear Niner Nation, 

We are seeing very encouraging signs in the fight against COVID-19, as vaccination rates continue to go up and infection rates continue to go down. As we relax many of our COVID-19 protocols, we will continue to use our three primary tools to help maintain a safe and healthy campus over the summer months: vaccination, face coverings and physical distancing.

As mentioned in my letter on Friday, May 21, it is important to remember that the relaxation of face-covering requirements, at the CDC, state and University levels, applies only to vaccinated individuals. If you are not vaccinated, you should continue wearing a face covering and maintaining physical distance from others. This is important to protect yourself and others from infection. Anyone who feels more comfortable wearing a face covering is always free to do so. 

Regardless of your vaccination status, I encourage you to continue carrying a face covering with you — both on campus and off — in case you need it.  

Classrooms and teaching laboratories

Face coverings will be required in all classrooms, teaching laboratories and indoor instructional spaces when occupied by students and faculty — regardless of vaccination status. This does not apply to individuals entering the spaces when class is not in session (ex: cleaning personnel). When classrooms are being used for meetings and other non-instructional uses, please reference the guidance below for conference rooms and other community meeting spaces. 

Research laboratories, studios and other indoor research facilities

Vaccinated individuals are not required to wear face coverings in these areas. If six feet of separation cannot be maintained, face coverings may be considered. 

Conference rooms and other community meeting spaces

Face coverings are not required in these areas but may be necessary if six feet of separation can’t be maintained between individuals. These determinations will need to be made on a case-by-case basis. For example, if a conference room has seating for 25 people and only six people are attending a meeting, it is unlikely face coverings will be needed. However, if 24 people are attending a different meeting in the same room, face coverings may be needed. Meeting organizers are responsible for  sharing any necessary information about face coverings with attendees. 

Dining facilities

Vaccinated individuals are not required to wear face coverings in dining facilities, and face coverings are not required while actively eating. Seating areas that support physical distancing will be provided.

Other large indoor gathering spaces

There may be indoor events that will require face coverings because the size of the event doesn’t allow participants to easily maintain six feet of separation. In these situations, the face covering requirement will be communicated in advance to attendees and signage at the event will indicate the requirement. 

Employees’ personal offices or workspaces

You are free to request that others wear a face covering if they are entering your personal office or workspace. You should work directly with your supervisor to find resolution on any questions about shared workspaces. 

Other areas requiring face coverings

Face coverings will continue to be required on Niner Transit and in the Student Health Center, regardless of vaccination status. 


We understand that there may be employees or students with health conditions that require reasonable accommodations under the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA). Any faculty or staff member who believes they need accommodations should consult with Cindy Edwards, director of employee relations, at or 704-687-0658. Students should contact the Office of Disability Services at 704‑687‑0040 or

Additional return-to-campus guidance

We will provide employees with additional return-to-campus guidance by mid-June and to students and families by mid-July. Please continue to monitor your email closely. As a reminder, we also have several town halls scheduled for June through August, and you may register by visiting the Niner Nation Cares website. 


Vaccination is still the best defense against getting and spreading COVID-19. If you need help locating a shot or wish to let us know you’ve received yours, visit the Niner Nation Cares website

I ask for your patience as we continue to receive and adjust to changing guidance. I also ask for understanding for your fellow Niners who may feel or believe differently than you do in this situation. 

We were successful over the past year because we worked together and took care of each other. I know that is how we will succeed again. 


Sharon L. Gaber

Sharon L. Gaber