Personal Safety Practices

Everyone is expected to follow the safe and healthy personal safety practices, including face masks, physical distancing and hand hygiene.

Face mask requirements and exceptions

Face masks must be worn on Ohio State’s campuses. Scientific evidence has shown that face masks protect others from spread of infection by intercepting large aerosol droplets that are released when exhaling, speaking, singing, coughing or sneezing.  Masks may also help reduce inhalation of these droplets by the wearer.

Face masks must be worn properly (over nose, mouth and chin) 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. Masks must also be worn outdoors, even when individuals can maintain 6 feet or more of 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 provided physical distancing is maintained and the individual has 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.


Face masks available around campus

Free face masks are available for students, faculty and staff at a variety of campus locations including: all recreation facilities, most university libraries and the Ohio Union information desk. Masks can be picked up during business hours and details about locations are below.

University Libraries

Masks are available at circulation desks in the university libraries listed below. Hours can be found on the University Libraries website.

Recreation Centers

Masks are available at entrances of all recreation facilities.

Ohio Union

Masks are available at the Ohio Union Information Desk.

Regional Campuses

Masks also are available at the testing sites at each of Ohio State’s regional campuses and at the following locations:

  • Lima: Nutrien Welcome Desk of the Perry Webb Student Life Building
  • Mansfield: Campus Recreation Center
  • Marion: Alber Student Center
  • Newark: Adena Recreation Center
  • Wooster: Student Activity Center

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. Disposable procedure masks supplied by the university should be discarded if they are soiled, torn or saturated. Please dispose of these masks in the trash, not on the ground. 

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

Physical distancing

Everyone should maintain a distance of at least 6 feet from others in any public space — indoor or outdoor — wherever possible.

Classrooms, offices and common spaces on Ohio State’s campuses allocate approximately 30 square feet of usable space per person.

The number or density of people permitted in buildings and residence halls on Ohio State’s campuses has been reduced to maintain appropriate physical distancing. Those who are able are advised to use stairs instead of elevators to support physical distancing.

The university has limited the size of in-person classes to no more than 50 students to reduce density on campus and maintain physical distancing.

Many employees continue to telework, and organizers are expected to conduct most meetings virtually.

Employees have also been advised to use alternative staffing model options, such as remote work, alternating days/weeks or staggered arrivals and departures, to promote physical distancing.

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 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.