Face Coverings

To mitigate the spread of COVID-19, the use of face coverings is strongly encouraged at all of our campuses and locations in Arizona, especially during group activities in indoor settings.

Face coverings continue to be required in the following locations, regardless of vaccination status:

  • Any building/facility that is operated by or affiliated with the University where patients or human research subjects participating in clinical research are seen in person.
  • In locations where personal protective equipment (including masks) has always been required to maintain safety protocols for situations with high hazards, such as areas where regulated chemicals are used or stored and other laboratory settings.
  • Inside a Cat Tran shuttle or any other public transportation provided by the University.
Please review the current CDC guidance on the use of masks

Updated July 27, 2021

Face Coverings:

  • Should cover the nose, mouth, and chin of the wearer
  • Can be cloth masks, homemade or purchased, or disposable surgical masks.
  • Are meant to protect the community from you; many cases of COVID-19 are spread by people who may not even realize they are sick (asymptomatic).
  • Are not a substitute for physical distancing, which should remain the primary means of preventing transmission.
  • Are NOT Personal Protective Equipment (PPE), such as N95 maskswhich are designed to protect you from hazards in your environment and are used in health care settings.
  • See also CDC information on face coverings

Face coverings are not a substitute for physical distancing, which should remain the primary means of preventing transmission.

Face coverings, when worn by majority of people in a community, can help prevent the transmission of viral particles into the air and onto the common surfaces, thereby reducing potential exposures and rates of transmission in the community.


Mask Distribution

The University of Arizona will provide two face coverings at no cost to students, staff, and faculty that will be on campus, additionally students will also receive a thermometer.

See Mask Distribution Times & Locations


Face Covering FAQ

Face coverings are more about protecting others in the community than protecting yourself. People can have COVID-19 and spread it to others without having any symptoms. Face coverings catch small respiratory droplets that enter the air when you breathe, speak, sing, cough, and sneeze, and reduce the chance of infecting other people. There is also limited evidence that when face coverings are worn properly, they may reduce your risk of being infected with the coronavirus. Face coverings are the right choice for members of our community – we need to preserve respirators like N95 masks for health care workers, researchers studying the coronavirus, and other high-risk workers. Face coverings should not be worn by children less than 2 years old and individuals who may have serious underlying respiratory conditions.

Face coverings should fit snugly and comfortably to your face, with no large gaps around the top or sides, and must cover the nose, mouth, and chin at all times. Don’t lower your mask to breathe through your nose or to speak to someone - you may be spreading potentially infectious respiratory droplets into the air around you. You should avoid touching your face covering while wearing it, but when you do wash your hands before and after.

Face coverings can be homemade or purchased, or even disposable surgical masks. The best material for homemade cloth face coverings is tightly woven cotton, such as tea towel or t-shirt material. Don’t forget to wash your face covering if it gets dirty using soap and water and wash it at least daily even if it looks clean.

Respirators protect you from other people, while face coverings protect other people from you. Respirators require all wearers to go through an Occupational Health and Safety Administration process to ensure they are healthy enough to wear a respirator, and should be reserved only for healthcare workers, coronavirus researchers, and other high-risk workers. Face coverings help community members protect one another from their own germs; when used by most people, respirators should not be needed in community settings.

Face coverings and respirators with exhalation valves allow your germs to escape into the air around you, meaning you can expose others around you. Since face coverings are more about protecting others than protecting yourself, wearing a face covering with exhalation valves is like wearing nothing at all. Devices with exhalation valves should be avoided.

You may remove your face covering when eating or drinking on University Property.

Face coverings are encouraged if there is more than one person in a University vehicle, including the CatTran.

Face coverings are not mandatory, but encouraged, especially if you are unvaccinated. Wearing a face covering for a long period may be uncomfortable for some. If you want to take a break from your face covering, we recommend moving to an outdoor location where you can physically distance from other people (not less than 6 feet separation), before you remove your mask. 

When exercising outdoors, you may remove your face covering. However, it is recommended that if you are unvaccinated, you wear your face covering if at least 6 feet of separation cannot be maintained. 

Plastic face shields are not the best option to stop spread of the coronavirus and are not a substitute for face coverings. The CDC does not recommend clear plastic face shields as substitutes for cloth face coverings because they are not as affective at preventing your respiratory droplets from spreading into the air around you. However, using layered protections, like wearing a face covering and a face shield together, provides an even greater level of protection. We recommend, but cannot require the use of face coverings.

Mesh face coverings, or face coverings with openings, holes, visible gaps in the design or material, or any kind of vent, are not protective, as they allow droplets and germs to be released from the face covering. Wearing a face covering with openings is like wearing nothing at all. We recommend against it.

Local City & County

Local guidelines on face coverings, gathering size limits and what's open to the public.

City of Tucson Pima County

Federal & State

Additional resources you may find helpful to keep you informed.

CDC Arizona Department of Health Services