Personal Protection and Hygiene

A thorough review of the evidence indicates that face masks protect others from spread of infection by intercepting large aerosol droplets that are released when exhaling, speaking, singing, coughing or sneezing.

Face mask requirements and exceptions

Face masks must be worn on Ohio State’s campuses. Face masks must be worn in indoor settings, including, but not limited to: classrooms, residence halls, conference rooms, shared office spaces, hallways, buses, shared vehicles and common areas such as lobbies, study spaces and laundry facilities on all Ohio State campuses. The number of individuals in any indoor space should be limited to facilitate physical distancing. Masks must also be worn in outdoor settings, even when individuals can maintain appropriate physical distancing.

Indoors or outdoors, exceptions are made for those dining, participating in strenuous exercise or taking part in performance-based classes. As an added safety measure, open-air tents have been set up on campus for use by arts, dance and music classes as well as certain courses with extended outdoor activities in the College of Food, Agricultural, and Environmental Sciences. Masks are not required for classes in these open-air tents. Additionally, there is an exception for university staff working alone in an individual's own office or outdoors for long periods of time who are able to maintain appropriate physical distancing and have a mask available if needed.

The university has compiled guidance on how to respectfully encourage compliance with face mask guidelines on campus.

Colleges or departments may determine that additional signage is needed to reinforce face mask requirements. Approved signage is available to download or purchase on the UniPrint website and should be coordinated via the Facilities Operations and Development, or Wexner Medical Center signage coordinator.

Free face masks are available in most university libraries for students, faculty and staff who arrive to campus without one. These should be reserved for those in need. Masks can be picked up during business hours at circulation desks in the university libraries listed below. Hours can be found on the University Libraries website.

Alternative face masks and cleaning guidelines

Face masks are part of the return-to-campus PPE safety kits provided to students, faculty and staff. Campus community members are strongly encouraged to use the face masks provided to them by the university. Ohio State has also issued recommendations for alternative face masks that meet university standards and guidelines for cleaning cloth face masks.

The importance of face masks on campus

Dr. Iahn Gonsenhauser, chief quality and patient safety officer at The Ohio State University Wexner Medical Center, discusses why wearing a mask is so important to keeping every member of the Buckeye community safe.

COVID-19: Importance of Masks on Campus

Hand hygiene

Hands should be washed frequently with soap and water for at least 20 seconds, especially after touching common surfaces.

If soap and water are not available, 70% alcohol-based hand sanitizer should be used. The university has made hand sanitizer widely available across Ohio State’s campuses.


The university is committed to ensuring that individuals who are vulnerable to COVID-19-related challenges or who face particular challenges because of the pandemic can learn and work as safely as possible. Additional information and guidance is available on the Accommodations Related to COVID-19 page.

Community members with particular needs for accommodations should contact Student Life Disability Services, the ADA Coordinator’s Office or the Office of Human Resources.

Accountability measures

Accountability measures are in place for those who do not complete the training and sign the pledge, or choose not to abide by required health and safety guidelines. These accountability measures may range from additional training and informal coaching to formal disciplinary action based on existing structures for students, faculty and staff.

Please reference this website for the most up-to-date guidelines. The university’s COVID-19 Transition Task Force’s Safe Campus and Scientific Advisory Subgroup will continue monitoring changing conditions and consult with local and state health authorities. Recommendations and requirements will be refined as needed.