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Rockefeller University Policy on Face Covering

In response to Governor Andrew Cuomo’s executive order requiring everyone in New York State to wear a mask or face covering when out in public beginning April 17th at 8 pm, the University is issuing new guidance for employees and students who work or reside in University’s facilities.

Effective immediately and until further notice, anyone on the University campus or in public areas of University housing are required to wear a face mask or face covering when out in public or when social distancing is not possible. Employees working alone in their offices and residents who are in their apartments do not need to wear masks or face coverings, but anytime you are on campus, whether outside or in any space shared with another occupant, or in public areas of University housing, you should be wearing a mask or face covering.

The use of a face mask or covering can potentially slow the spread of the virus preventing people who may have the virus but are asymptomatic from transmitting it to others. The video highlighted in this article illustrates droplet spread from someone speaking with and without a cloth face covering. These masks do NOT protect the wearer from the virus. Wearing a mask or face covering is a complementary measure, not a replacement for established preventive measures, which include physical distancing, respiratory etiquette, meticulous hand hygiene and avoiding touching the face, nose, eyes and mouth.

Obtaining a face mask

University Heads of Laboratory and Department have been given surgical masks for distribution to personnel who are approved for access to campus to conduct essential tasks, address intermittent critical laboratory operational tasks and/or conduct approved COVID-19-related research. If you are in one of these categories, please check with your supervisor about obtaining masks.  Questions may be sent to

Advice and guidance for making cloth face coverings can be found from numerous sources, including the NYTimes and the Surgeon General.

Face mask dos and don’ts

Face masks are only effective for protection if they are handled, worn, stored and disposed of properly. And wearing one does not negate the need for maintaining appropriate social distance, hand and cough/sneeze hygiene and avoiding touching one’s face.

  • Do practice proper hand hygiene. Before and after handling the mask (to put on, adjust, or take off), either wash your hands or use hand sanitizer to reduce cross-contamination risk. The outside of the mask should always be considered dirty.
  • Do mark the outside of the mask in some way so you can easily identify which side is the outside of the mask and handle it accordingly.
  • Do keep a paper bag handy for storing the mask every time you take it off; an open plastic Ziploc-style baggie is an alternative if a paper bag is not available. Always store a mask in a clean place. Never store it in a purse or pocket.
  • Don’t touch the outside of your mask while it is on your face.
  • Don’t pull your mask below your chin while you are wearing it. Leaving the mask dangling or improperly fitted to your face creates opportunities for cross-contamination.