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Face Mask Protocol

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Face Mask Protocol 2021-09-03T11:11:13+00:00

Highline College Face Mask Protocol

The face mask protocol follows State of Washington Department of Health order 20-03.4 Face Coverings – Statewide. The guidance follows CDC recommendations for individuals in areas of substantial or high transmission, like Washington State, to wear face masks in indoor public places regardless of vaccination status, with limited exceptions.

College employees and students are required to familiarize themselves with the face mask protocol and follow it at all times.  The protocol and its directives shall remain in effect until further notice.

Outdoors on campus:

Face masks are not required on campus when outdoors. However, it is strongly recommended all people, regardless of vaccination status, wear face masks in crowded outdoors settings, such when there is decreased ability to consistently maintain physical distancing.

Indoor buildings on campus:

Face masks are required inside buildings on campus

  • Applies to all individuals coming on campus including students, employees, visitors, volunteers, contractors, service providers, vendors, and suppliers.
  • Applies to both vaccinated and unvaccinated individuals.
  • All individuals over the age of 5 years, however children ages 2-4 can wear a mask under close adult supervision.
  • Face masks must:
    • fit snugly against the sides of the face without any noticeable gaps;
    • completely cover the nose and mouth and wrap under the chin;
    • be secured with ties, ear loops, elastic bands, or other equally effective method; and
    • include at least one layer of tightly woven fabric without visible holes, although multiple layers are strongly recommended.
  • Individuals who are wearing a face mask that does not meet the safety requirements will be asked to adjust their face mask to meet the requirements (i.e., keep nose and mouth covered) or provided/directed to a free new face mask.
  • Face masks can be cloth face masks, disposable surgical mask, KN95 mask or an N95 mask or clear masks or cloth masks with a clear plastic panel may be used when interacting with people who are deaf or hard of hearing, students learning to read, students learning a new language, people with disabilities and people who need to see the proper shape of the mouth for making appropriate vowel sounds.
  • College employees and students are encouraged to carry an extra face mask at all times to account for the possibility a mask might be lost or soiled.
  • A face mask can be obtained from several locations on campus if one is needed,  normally found immediately outside building doors or in the entry of buildings.

A face mask must be worn in the building at all times except in the following situations:

  • Face masks can be removed while eating and drinking throughout the first floor of the Student Union building and the Bistro area of the second floor of the Student Union building when COVID-19 safety protocols are followed.
  •  Face masks are not allowed to be removed for food/drink in other buildings on campus including classrooms and the library.
  • When getting a Highline College picture ID face masks can be removed upon direction of staff immediately prior to getting a picture taken.  Face masks must be put on immediately after the photo.
  • When necessary to confirm identity by Public Safety.
  • When any party to a communication is deaf or hard of hearing and communication is not possible with face masks:
    • written information will be provided when possible; or
    • appointment scheduled through Zoom; or
    • ask individuals to step outside to continue conversation in fresh air without face masks; or
    •  in rare situations where no other way to communicate is possible and there is an urgent need to communicate then face mask can be removed using social distancing.
  •  When unable to put on a face covering due to an emergency.

Specific to employees:

In addition, face masks can be removed in the following designated areas  for employees when COVID-19 protocols are followed:

  • Designated employee break rooms in work areas following COVID-19 safety protocols.
  • While working indoors in areas not generally accessible to the public and when no customers/students, volunteers, visitors, or non-employees are present, but only if the employee is fully vaccinated against COVID-19. An example is  an area with cubicles/desks that non-employees do not enter where masks would be optional for fully vaccinated.
  • An employee working alone if they are isolated from interaction with others and normally have no in-person interruptions.  Example is a sole occupant of an office/space with a closed door who is unlikely to be visited.
  • Outdoors on campus: Face masks are not required on campus when outdoors.

However, it is strongly recommended that all people, regardless of vaccination status, wear face masks in crowded outdoors settings, such as when there is decreased ability to consistently maintain a physical distance of 3 feet.

Mask Fatigue 

Reduce mask fatigue:

  • When a mask fits well you are more likely to wear it, and for longer periods of time.  The CDC suggests that if you have to continually adjust your face mask, you might need to find a different mask type or brand.
  • Take breaks!  If you are wearing a face mask for an extended amount of time, take a break when it is safe to do so.  Step outside for a few minutes and remove your mask or  go to indoor designed break areas.  Plan this into your day.
  • Keep masks handy, put 1-2 extra face masks in a Ziploc bag and take them with you to campus.  Replace a mask if you have worn it for several hours with a fresh mask, or when it gets damp from humidity.   This will keep you more comfortable.

Refusal to Wear a Face Mask 

Individuals that refuse to wear a face mask in required areas:

  • Asked to wear a face mask and provided a face mask (or directed to where available on campus).
  • If individual refuses to wear a face mask they are asked to leave area.
  • Individual will be referred to Highline College webpage for information regarding online student services and academic courses.
  • If individual refuses to leave area Public Safety is called to assist.

Unable to Wear a Face Mask

Students: Online student services provide a safe format for individuals with a medical condition, mental health condition, developmental or cognitive condition, or disability that prevents wearing a face mask on campus. Academic courses are also being provided with online sections for most disciplines.

Employees: Refer to Human Resources

The face mask policy is based on the current status of the virus and dependent upon guidance for higher education from the WA DOH, K.C. Public Health and the Governor. The policy will be updated as guidance changes. Highline College meets or exceeds the requirements of Face Coverings- Statewide 20-03.4.


Proclamation 20-12.4 Higher Education by the Governor Amending Proclamations 20-05, 20-12, et. seq., and 20-25, et. seq. proc_20-12.4.pdf (wa.gov)

Order of the Secretary of Health  20-03.4 Face Coverings-Statewide Amending Order 20-03 Secretary_of_Health_Order_20-03_Statewide_Face_Coverings.pdf (wa.gov)

Proclamation 20-25.14 “Washington Ready” by the Governor Amending Proclamations 20-05 and 20-25, et. Seq.  20-25.15 – COVID-19 Washington Ready.pdf

Proclamation 21.14.1 COVID-19 Vaccination Requirement by the Governor Amending Proclamations 20-05 and 20-14 21-14.1 – COVID-19 Vax Washington Amendment.pdf

Public Health Director Nicki Bly 8/25/21 Reviewed and approved for COVID-19 safety requirements of 20-03.4. Updated with mask fatigue 8/29/21 NB.