Alternative Face Coverings as an Accommodation

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The Disability Resource Center (DRC) cares about the health and safety of all University community members. We understand that cloth face masks are proven to slow the spread of COVID-19 and that we all want to do our part in mitigating risks on campus. We also understand that not everyone in the University community can wear a cloth face mask.

More information may be found on the University of Minnesota's Face Covering Information page about the University's commitment to safety through the wearing of face coverings and the DRC's role in exploring alternative options when a cloth face mask will not work for students, faculty, and staff. 

For the health and safety of all, the DRC will not waive the face covering requirement, but will explore alternatives.

Individuals requesting alternative face coverings

If you’re already registered with the DRC

Please contact your access consultant if you are registered with the DRC and have a disability or health condition that necessitates either:

  1. Using a clear mask instead of a cloth mask, or 

  2. Exploring other face covering options for yourself and/or others with whom you regularly interact.

If you are not registered with the DRC

If you are not registered with the DRC and have a disability or health condition that necessitates exploring alternative face coverings:

You may be asked about the impacts of your disability or health condition and the barriers in the environment. Depending on the nature of your request, you may need to register with the DRC, in which case you will be asked for medical documentation related to your request. 

Instructors, supervisors, or departments requesting alternative face coverings

In many cases individuals may have already requested clear face masks for colleagues, work groups, lab partners, etc. If you are an instructor, supervisor, or department representative who regularly interacts with an individual for whom an alternative face covering would make the classroom or work environment accessible, please consult with the individual about their needs.

To request alternative face coverings:

Because these processes take time, please contact the DRC as soon as possible. 

Please be aware that physical distancing and other health measures should be maintained when wearing any face covering. For more information, visit Protect Yourself and Others: COVID-19.

Alternative face covering FAQ

I want to explore accommodations related to the requirement for face coverings on campus. What should I do?

All students, faculty, and staff are required to use a face covering to cover both the nose and mouth at all times when in any enclosed or indoor space on University campuses and properties and outside when proper physical distancing cannot be maintained. What is considered a face covering may be found at Face Covering FAQs

If you are already registered with the DRC:

Please contact your access consultant if you are registered with the DRC and have a disability or health condition that necessitates either:

  1. Using a clear mask instead of a cloth mask, or 

  2. Exploring other face covering options for yourself and/or others with whom you regularly interact.

If you are not registered with the DRC:

If you are not registered with the DRC and have a disability or health condition that necessitates exploring alternative face coverings:

You may be asked about the impacts of your disability or health condition and the barriers in the environment. Depending on the nature of your request, you may need to register with the DRC, in which case you will be asked for medical documentation related to your request. 

Will the DRC waive the face covering requirement if I cannot wear one?

For the health and safety of the University community, the DRC is not waiving the face covering requirement for individuals over the age of two; however, alternative accommodations will be explored. Please note that the determination of reasonable accommodations takes time. Please contact the DRC as soon as possible if you believe you need alternative accommodations. 

Please be aware that physical distancing and other health measures should be maintained when wearing any face covering. For more information, visit Protect Yourself and Others: COVID-19

Will I need a disability accommodation letter to verify approval for a clear mask?

No. Clear masks are being offered as alternatives to the cloth masks that are available for those students, faculty, and staff who access information through lip reading and/or facial expression, or have other disability-related access needs. If you’d like to consult with DRC staff regarding an accommodation letter, employees can email ureturn@umn.edu and students can email drc@umn.edu

Can UMTC departments request clear masks for their departments through the DRC?

In many cases individuals may have already requested clear face masks for colleagues, work groups, lab partners, etc. If you are an instructor, supervisor, or department representative who regularly interacts with an individual for whom an alternative face covering would make the classroom or work environment accessible, please consult with the individual about their needs.

To request alternative face coverings:

If I do not have a disability or medical condition, how can I get an alternative face covering?

Faculty, staff and students who do not experience a disability-related barrier to wearing a cloth mask are required to wear one. The University is providing two University-branded face masks through UMarket Services for all faculty, staff, and students. Information was sent to each college and unit about the process to order masks for their faculty, staff, and students. Each University department or office is using the process to request two free branded masks outlined in UMarket Services information on ordering face masks. Individuals may also use non-University-provided face coverings that comply with the requirements articulated here.