Cornell requires that an approved mask must be worn indoors at all times in campus buildings, unless in a private, non-shared space (e.g., cubicle or dorm room), when alone in an office or when eating. (A cubicle is defined as a space with three walls at least five feet in height.) When indoors, unvaccinated individuals must maintain physical distancing when unmasked to eat and drink. When outdoors, everyone should wear a mask when physical distancing is not possible.
Approved masks include masks with any of the following certifications: ASTM (procedure or surgical), KN95, FFP2, KF94 or NIOSH N95. Cloth masks are not approved unless worn in conjunction with an ASTM medical mask.
Observe these additional precautions:
- Minimize your time unmasked
- Minimize unmasked conversations
- If in groups, minimize the group size
Approved masks will be available at any of the COVID-19 testing sites and masks will be provided to students upon their arrival in Ithaca. To ensure an adequate supply for others, please only take the number of masks you need to comply with the mask requirements in the immediate future.
Departments and Units can pick up mask supplies at the Cornell Recycling Facility. Pre-ordering is not required.
Cornell Recycle Center
251 Solidago Road
Ithaca, NY 14850
Pick Up Hours: 8:00-3:30
Employees who choose to a wear NIOSH certified N95 mask must complete required EHS 2386 Respirator Voluntary Use Sign Off on CU Learn; this is a short training and an Occupational Health and Safety Administration (OSHA) requirement.
Eating and drinking indoors
Masks are most effective when worn properly and can prevent inhaling and exhaling the COVID-19 virus, protecting you and those around you.
Prior to Feb. 7:
On-campus dining will be limited to grab-and-go meals through Feb. 7. Faculty, staff, and students should minimize contact with others while eating and drinking.
After Feb. 7:
Indoor dining options will resume in designated locations on campus. All faculty, staff and students will be 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.
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 spaces. You are required to 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).
Frequently Asked Questions
How can I acquire an approved mask?
Approved mask masks will be provided to students upon their arrival in Ithaca and will be available for all Cornell community members this semester to “grab-and-go” from any COVID-19 testing site. Current on-site stock is limited – take only what is needed to get yourself through the week.
Departments and units can pick up mask supplies at the Cornell Recycling Facility at 251 Solidago Rd. from 8 a.m. to 3:30 p.m. Monday through Friday. Pre-ordering is not required.
Can approved masks be re-used?
Disposable masks may be re-used. When a mask is no longer tight-fitting, wet, soiled, damaged, or if it has been used while in contact with someone with COVID-19, it should be changed for a new mask. A tight-fitting mask should always form a tight seal around the nose and mouth.
What are the differences between masks? (i.e., both the material and the fit)
Face masks remain a key mitigation strategy in our efforts to minimize transmission of COVID-19. The most important element of masking is that the mask is tight fitting, and worn properly around the mouth and nose to limit the potential spread of aerosols.
- ASTM masks, also known as procedure or surgical masks are disposable masks that create a physical barrier between the mouth and nose of the wearer and potential contaminants in the immediate environment. Medical masks are manufactured to meet the American Society of Testing and Materials (ASTM) standards and come in three grades.
- KN95s, KF94s, FFP2 and N95s are electrostatic non-woven polypropylene fiber masks meant to form a tight seal over the mouth and nose. Both KN95s and N95s are rated to capture 95% of tiny particles (0.3-micron particles). FFP2, and KF94s capture 94% of 0.3-micron particles. Do not double mask when using an N95, KN95, KF94 or FFP2 as this will affect the seal of the mask around the nose and throat.
- N95 are manufactured to meet US NIOSH certification requirements Employees who voluntarily use an N95 must complete EHS2386 Respirator Voluntary Use Sign Off on CULearn.
- KN95 are manufactured to meet China filtering face mask certification requirements
- KF94 are manufactured to meet South Korea filtering face mask certification requirements.
- FFP2 are manufactured to meet European Union filtering face mask certification requirements.
- Cloth Face Coverings do not meet or have any performance standard and therefore are not approved masks. They are not designed to form a well-fitted seal around the nose and mouth.
Is double-masking compliant with university guidance?
Yes, a cloth mask can be worn over an ASTM mask to push the edges of the disposable mask against your face. According to the CDC a cloth mask worn over a medical mask may improve overall efficiency. The CDC offer additional guidance to improve how your mask protects you.
Double-masking cloth masks does not meet Cornell's practices.
Is there any benefit of double masking with an approved, certified mask, such as a N95?
Do not double mask with multiple KF94, KN95, KFF2 or N95 respirator. Doing so may negatively impact the fit of the filtering facepiece mask reducing the effectiveness of the mask.
Healthcare workers have procedures to wear double masks to keep their N95 clean, which is acceptable for healthcare workers. In those situations, the N95 is worn below the surgical mask.
Are masks needed outdoors?
Wearing a mask will always provide greater protection to you and people in your immediate vicinity, however with good distancing practices, wearing a mask outdoors is not required. If you are part of a group outside and cannot distance, an approved mask is required.
What are acceptable alternatives for those who cannot wear a Medical, KF94, KN95, N95, or double mask due to allergies, medical condition or facial surgery?
Faculty and staff who are in need of a medical accommodation may submit an ADA Reasonable Accommodation request by contacting Medical Leaves Administration at firstname.lastname@example.org or calling (607) 255-1177. More information and forms are available on the Human Resources website.
How will masking compliance be enforced during the semester?
The enforcement of public health requirements is a community effort, if you observe non-compliance politely ask the person to comply with the specific public health requirement. If the person refuses, walk away, never become confrontational.
Cornell will use signage, training, and university-wide messaging to inform community members of the minimum public health requirements and expect our community to comply to prevent the spread of COVID-19.