Health & Safety

Face Masks

Masks must be worn indoors at all times, unless in a private, non-shared space (e.g., office or dorm room), when alone in an office, or when eating. Vaccinated persons may remove masks when alone in a cubicle (for the purpose of this guidance, a cubicle is defined as a space with three walls at least 5' in height). When indoors, unvaccinated individuals must maintain physical distancing when unmasked for eating and drinking. When outdoors, everyone should wear a mask when physical distancing is not possible.

Observe these additional precautions:

  • Minimize your time unmasked.
  • Minimize unmasked conversations.
  • If in groups, minimize the group size.
  • Outdoor eating is strongly preferred.

Masks are just one component of Cornell’s public health measures. Please see additional public health requirements for:

Mask guidance: Eating and drinking indoors

Meetings and events

Meetings lasting only a few hours should not include food or beverages. This includes coffee, cookies or other snack items that might traditionally be served before, during or after meetings. Individuals who bring their own refreshments should take their masks down only when drinking and immediately replace it.

If hosting a day-long event, meals can be provided, however, food and beverage should be pre-prepared/pre-packaged in order to avoid congregating around food stations. Individuals should wear masks until seated and put their mask back on directly after finishing eating or drinking. If possible, individuals should eat outside, distance while eating and avoid large groups.

Dining halls and cafés

Indoor dining options remain available in designated spots on campus. All faculty, staff and students are required to wear a mask in these spaces until seated and must put their mask back on as soon as they have finished eating or drinking. Unvaccinated individuals must maintain a six-foot distancing from others when unmasked for eating or drinking. Vaccinated individuals are not required to distance while eating or drinking, but it is a good idea to distance as much as possible.

Tents will be set up around campus to allow for outdoor dining. We encourage everyone to take advantage of outdoor seating while weather permits.

Whether inside or out, be mindful of how much time you are spending in close proximity to others while unmasked.

Atriums or other public spaces

Most of our campus facilities will be configured for full capacity this semester. This includes building atriums, lobbies and other public spaces, which are common spots to congregate for informal meetings, studying or taking a break with colleagues and friends.

While it is common for eating and drinking to occur in these spaces, these are not designated dining areas. You must put your mask back on whenever you are not actively eating or drinking (e.g., mask up between sips when drinking a coffee over an extended period of time).


Our campus classrooms, including lecture halls, studios and laboratories, will also be configured for full capacity this semester. Students are expected to minimize the time they spend unmasked to take a sip or bite, and to re-mask immediately after drinking or eating. To every extent possible, students should eat before or after class, or during breaks in the middle of longer classes.

Private spaces

When possible, individuals are encouraged to eat outdoors on in a private indoor space. Masks are not required in private residence (e.g., dorm room) or when alone in a private office.

Vaccinated persons may remove face coverings or masks when alone in a cubicle (for the purpose of this guidance, a cubicle is defined as a space with three walls at least 5' in height).

For additional information on face masks, including Cornell’s masking policy and where to obtain masks and PPE, please visit the Environmental Health & Safety website.

Mask guidance: Musical instruments and singing

Singing and certain wind instruments can generate high levels of aerosols compared to normal breathing or speaking. As such, additional mitigation strategies are appropriate and are outlined below. For questions regarding ventilation of a specific space please contact Environment, Health and Safety (EHS) at

Outside Inside with no mechanical ventilation Inside with mechanical ventilation
No mask and 6’ distancing
Mask and no distancing
Requires EHS approval Mask and 3’ distancing
Non-aerosol-producing instruments (e.g., percussion, string)
Wear a mask when physical distancing is not possible Mask Mask
Low aerosol-producing instruments (e.g., Tuba)
Bell cover/masks and no distancing
No Bell cover/Masks and 6’ distancing
Bell cover/masks and no distancing Bell covers/ mask and no distancing
Medium aerosol-producing instruments (e.g., bassoon, piccolo, flute, bass clarinet, French horn, clarinet)
Bell cover/masks and no distancing
No Bell cover/Masks and 6’ distancing
Bell cover/masks and 3’ distancing Bell cover/masks and no distancing
High aerosol-producing instruments (e.g., trumpet, oboe, bass trombone)
Bell cover/masks and no distancing
No Bell cover/Masks and 6’ distancing
Requires EHS approval Bell cover/masks and 3’ distancing


Inside with no mechanical ventilation

Inside with no mechanical ventilation

Additional wind and brass instruments rehearsal specific requirements:

  • All water expelled from instruments will be collected into disposable puppy pads, which will be disposed of after each rehearsal by each student
  • Bell covers for woodwinds and brass, where required, should be made with a multi-layer cover with the center layer being made of MERV-13 filter material, or a 3-layer surgical style mask using a standard such as GB/T32310
  • Play flute with the headjoint between mouth and mask. Recorder should use the slitted mask used with woodwinds
  • For aerosol producing instruments, masks will be worn while in indoor rehearsal or performances but not playing (that is, keep a mask under the chin and replace it during rests or breaks in playing)
  • No air should be forced through the instrument or its parts to expel water
  • No air should be used to clean waterlogged keys (i.e., blowing out tone holes)
  • No buzzing on mouthpieces as this may produce more aerosols and droplets than most other activities
  • Clean music stands, keyboards and other touched surfaces before and after rehearsals
  • No sharing of mouthpieces or reeds of any instrument and No sharing of wind and brass instruments

How to Wear a Mask

Masks are most effective when worn properly and can prevent inhaling and exhaling the COVID-19 virus, protecting you and those around you.

Do: Complete cover your nose and mouth
Don't: Wear a mask under your nose or chin
Do: Wear a mask indoors and when physical distancing is not possible outdoors.
Don't: Hang your mask around your neck or from your ear.
Do: Wear a mask that fits snugly against your face.
Don't: Leave gaps on the sides.
Do: Consider wearing a cloth mask over a disposable mask for additional protection
Don't: Combine a KN95 mask with any other mask