Guidance on Face Coverings Required in Enclosed Public Spaces

WSU requires all persons on campus to wear a mask that fully covers the nose and mouth when indoors. These masking requirements are in line with CDC Guidelines related to the Omicron variant.

Given the potential increased transmissibility of the Omicron variant, and the high community transmission of SARS-CoV-2 in the Detroit area, it is recommended that individuals review the CDCs description of the types of masks and respirators that are available, with the goal of improving the quality of fit and the effectiveness of masks being selected.

Important Notes:

  • Improve fit/effectiveness of your current masks:
  • Internationally approved respirator masks such as the KN95s and KF94s are widely available. 
    • These respirator masks may be used in place of double masking (see above), however these respirator masks are not an appropriate substitute for N95 respirators certified by the US National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health (NIOSH) and when a NIOSH-approved N95 is required in the workplace.
    • These international respirators have not been evaluated for certification by NIOSH standards as is done for N95 respirators, but they may have met the standard criteria classifications in the country of origin.  Specific international KN95 respirators received emergency use authorization by the FDA for health care personnel during a specific time period in 2020 and 2021 when N95 mask supply was limited during the pandemic.

    • There are many counterfeit international respirator masks in the United States.  Due diligence on the manufacturer and model # information must be performed to ascertain that the product being acquired is legitimate. Please review the CDC/NIOSH guidance on spotting counterfeit products.
  • NIOSH approved N95 respirators:  Per the CDC, individuals may choose to use a disposable N95 respirator.  However, N95 respirators labeled as "surgical" should still be prioritized for healthcare personnel.
    • WSU personnel opting to use a N95 must register with OEHS in order to receive information that Michigan Occupational Health and Safety (MIOSHA) requires employers to provide to employees who voluntarily wear respiratory protection in the workplace.
    • Counterfeit N95 respirators are also being sold in the US.  Please review the CDC/NIOSH guidance on spotting counterfeit products.
  • Fabric face coverings are not considered personal protective equipment (PPE) in the laboratory setting and cannot substitute for surgical masks or N95 respirators that are required for specific laboratory tasks.

Putting on and taking off face coverings:

  • Wash hands or use hand sanitizer prior to handling.
  • Ensure the face covering fits over the nose and under the chin.
  • Situate the face covering properly with nose wire snug against the nose (if applicable).
  • Tie straps behind the head and neck or loop around the ears.
  • Avoid touching or adjusting face coverings. Immediately wash hands if you do.
  • Do not touch your eyes, nose, or mouth when removing the face covering.
  • When removing, loop your finger into the strap and pull the strap away from the ear, or untie the straps.
  • Do not store your mask loose in a bag, pocket, etc.  Consider keeping a paper bag with you to store your mask if it will be being removed outside of your home.
  • Wash hands immediately after removing.

Links and resources:

CDC:  Omicron Variant:  What You Need to Know:

CDC:  Types of Masks and Respirators:

CDC:  Improve How Your Mask Protects You:

CDC:  Counterfeit Respirators/Misrepresentation of NIOSH-Approval:

WSU OEHS:  Voluntary Respirator Protection Use Registration:

State of Michigan Health & Human Services: Face Coverings - Frequently Asked Questions: