Policy: Mandatory Face Masks on Campus During the COVID-19 Pandemic

Introduction and rationale

In response to recent federal and state guidance regarding the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic, and based upon current scientific evidence, Goshen College requires that all employees, student-employees, students, contractors and guests wear a face mask when on campus in order to protect others and the public’s health. This is consistent with Indiana Governor Holcomb’s and the Elkhart County Health Department’s directives to wear a face mask. The latest scientific evidence (here and others) is compelling that widespread use of face masks is essential to effectively reduce community-based transmission of the virus.

The use of a face mask slows the spread of the virus by reducing transmission of the virus in airborne particles by people who have the virus. This is especially important because people may be infected with the virus and infectious to others before they are aware that they are sick.

The use of face masks is most effective when everyone participates, and in combination with hand washing, physical distancing and self-screening for symptoms of possible illness.

The college will provide all students and employees with:

  • two GC-branded cloth face masks

Masks will be distributed to students as they arrive on campus. We also encourage you to bring several of your own, especially if you have ones you already like, or purchase more in the Bookstore. Wear a clean one every day. We understand that face masks can be uncomfortable and annoying, but we nonetheless ask every member of our campus community to persevere in wearing them.

Employees and students with health risks may also request a face shield if they would like to use one in addition to a mask. Face shields confer additional protection to the eyes and face when worn with a face mask. Face shields and masks each confer partial protection from the virus, but are not the same.

Guidelines and examples

We require that face mask be worn when in a shared space or when encountering people within a 6-foot radius of yourself, indoors or outdoors.

This would include:

  • shared indoor public areas, such as foyers, elevators, hallways, restrooms and classrooms
  • private living spaces on campus if persons who are not roommates or housemates (one’s household) are together
  • recreational sports outdoors where there will be close contact
  • working side-by-side with another person
  • conversations between two or more people who are not able to maintain proper physical distancing
  • while driving or riding in a vehicle with others for a college-related activity/business

This would exclude:

  • people working alone in a private office or other areas where we can be reasonably confident that the virus cannot be transmitted to other people
  • students in their residence hall room, campus apartment or campus housing with roommates or housemates
  • someone working by themselves outdoors (for example, operating a lawn mower)
  • people walking alone through campus (but have a face mask at the ready for encounters)
  • children under age 2 (a face mask may cause such a child to suffocate). An adult should supervise use of face masks by children age 3 to 12 to avoid misuse.
  • any individual, in an emergency, who has trouble breathing or is unconscious, incapacitated, or otherwise unable to remove the face mask without assistance

Masks are required at all times in athletics and the Rec-Fitness Center (RFC), and this includes on the sidelines of a competition, during practices, in the locker room (except in the shower) and in the weight room. The only exceptions to this are when student-athletes are competing/practicing on the court/field or any campus member is doing aerobic exercise in the RFC or on the outdoor athletic fields.

Face shields may be worn by employees or students without a mask in limited circumstances, including when instructors and students need to demonstrate something facial, such as while lecturing, or in music or language instruction. This should be kept as brief as possible, and the individuals should maintain physical distance of at least 6 feet and more if possible. If an instructor needs to move among students while in a classroom, a face mask should be worn.


In addition, accommodations to wear an approved face shield will be provided for:

  • individuals who have been advised by a medical professional that wearing a face mask may pose a risk to the person wearing the face mask for physical or mental health-related reasons, and receive a medical exemption from their doctor or therapist
  • individuals with a physical disability that prevents easily wearing or removing a face mask
  • individuals who are deaf and need to remove the face mask to use face and mouth movements as part of their communication

In such circumstances, students should be in contact with and provide documentation to the Academic Success Center and employees should be in contact with the Human Resources Office.

Supporting behavior change

This policy will succeed if all of us are motivated out of a care for each other and our community. We will seek to be kind and supportive, but also accountable, as we respond to one another and change our collective behaviors. If someone forgets to wear a mask when it is needed, we will seek to offer one or ask that they get one. Student Life will handle student concerns, the Human Resources Office will handle employee concerns and the Welcome Center or Events Office will handle visitor concerns if this policy is not followed.

Face mask dos and don’ts

  • Face masks are only effective if they are handled, worn, stored and disposed of properly. Face masks are only one part of an effective COVID control strategy and must be implemented in conjunction with physical distancing, hand washing, self-screening and rigorous cleaning of shared surfaces. 
  • Do maintain at least 6 feet of physical distancing when possible.
    • Do practice proper hand hygiene. Before and after handling the face mask (to put on, adjust or take off), either wash your hands or use hand sanitizer to reduce cross-contamination risk. The outside of the face mask is considered dirty.
    • A properly worn face mask is one that fully covers the individual’s mouth and nose, fits snugly against the sides of the face with no gaps, is secured (i.e. straps, ear loops) to prevent slipping and allows for breathing with no restriction.
    • Do mark the outside of the face mask in some way so you can easily identify which side is the outside of the face mask, and handle it accordingly. Some individuals mark the outside with their initials in permanent ink.
    • Do keep a paper bag handy for storing the face mask every time you take it off; an open plastic Ziploc-style baggie is an alternative if a paper bag is not available. Always store a face mask in a clean place. Never store it in a purse or pocket.
    • Reusable masks should be washed each day it is used with warm soapy water and allowed to fully dry before the next use.
  • Don’t touch the outside of your mask while it is on your face.
  • Don’t pull your face mask below your chin or nose while you are wearing it. Leaving the face mask dangling or improperly fitted to your face creates opportunities for cross-contamination. If you need to take a temporary break from your mask, take it off entirely.

Feedback welcome

We welcome your feedback on this policy as we learn how to keep everyone as safe as possible in this time. Please direct your comments and suggestions to the Pandemic Task Force.

Created May 13, 2020 by the Goshen College Crisis Management Team (Rebecca Stoltzfus, Jodi Beyeler, Chad Coleman, Ann Vendrely, Gilberto Perez Jr, Glenn Gilbert, Cynthia Good Kaufmann). Updated February 12, 2021 by the Pandemic Task Force.

This policy will remain in effect until further notice, or until health guidance supports modification.