Masking Policy

What is the latest guidance for wearing masks while on the Oxy campus?

Updated 9/20/22

In light of recent trends on campus and in LA County, as of Sept. 26, masking is no longer mandatory for indoor spaces on campus - with the exception of Emmons Wellness Center, the AGC COVID testing site, and Oxy vans and other forms of group transportation. Outside of these few exceptions, masks will be strongly recommended for all indoor and crowded outdoor spaces on campus. Masking in classrooms is strongly recommended and, as always, faculty members may require that masks be worn in their classrooms.

Masking FAQs

Why has Oxy dropped its mandatory indoors masking rule?

The College's decision is in line with county, state and federal guidelines, which no longer make indoor masking mandatory. As announced in August, the College reevaluated its policy this month based on current data. COVID cases on the Oxy campus have been manageable and minimal this fall. Over the past month, the campus positivity rate has been significantly lower than the countywide rate. As of Sept. 22, Los Angeles County is now at the "low" community level, as defined by the CDC, with 98 cases per 100,000 residents.The CDC requires indoor masking only when the community level is at "high."

Can staff and administrators require that masks be worn in their offices and/or departments?

Just as faculty members can require the use of masks in their classroom, each staff member and administrator can require the use of masks in their individual office. In indoor workspaces and common areas the wearing of masks is strongly recommended, but not required. Any group that works together can decide collectively to wear masks even if the space is a "masks strongly recommended" space. We are relying on our culture of care and mutual respect to guide those discussions and decisions.

How is the College monitoring COVID positivity to be able to identify potential surges and outbreaks on campus?

We continue to test symptomatic and exposed people, and to contract trace all positive cases on campus to identify sources of spread and potential outbreak.

At what point would the College reinstate universal indoor masking? What factors would trigger that decision?

As has been the case throughout the pandemic, College policy will continue to change based on the facts on the ground. We will consult county guidelines and monitor the rate of virus on campus, our isolation space capacity and the severity of illness community members are experiencing. Should we see a significant reversal of the current positive trends, we will not hesitate to reinstate mandatory masking, widespread surveillance testing, or other mitigation measures as needed.

Can departments and individuals still get masks on campus?

Yes. Surgical, KN95, and N95 masks are all available on campus. Surgical mask stands will remain in place in the Academic Commons, AGC, and outside of Emmons for individuals. If departments or classrooms need surgical, N95 or KN95 masks in bulk, please email at Emmons with your request (quantity/type of mask). Please provide Emmons with advance notice of your request, and they will confirm when your order is ready for pick-up.

Why doesn’t the College send weekly emails about COVID cases on campus like they did last year?

COVID positivity and case data are updated weekly on this site. COG is reserving campus-wide email notifications for critical updates and positivity surges.


Mask Availability

Staff and Faculty: Current L.A. County guidance requires employers to provide masks to employees. Oxy has a supply of surgical grade masks as well as KN95 and N95. Masks are available at the AGC testing center.

What Type of Mask Is Okay?

  • All community members, faculty, staff and students are encouraged to wear surgical grade medical masks or higher quality. 
  • While properly worn surgical masks and N95s are both acceptable, the N95s (as well as KN95 and KN94) provide a higher level of protection than the surgical grade medical masks. Emmons staff may require N95s or equivalent in some cases. In addition N95s may be required in some academic settings and work settings (e.g. when participants are in close proximity with others for long periods of time).  
  • Individuals who want maximum protection for themselves should wear an N95 mask or equivalent.
  • To ensure proper mask-wearing, masks should: 
    • Completely cover the nose and mouth
    • Fit snugly against the sides of the face and not have any gaps
    • Be handled only by the ear loops, cords, or head straps (not by the surface of the mask)

An illustration of a neck gaiter, bandana, and mask with a face valve all marked with red Xs

Not Acceptable

⨂ Cloth or homemade masks

⨂ Gaiters

⨂ Bandanas

⨂ Masks with Valves