Carnegie Mellon University School of Computer Science
April 10, 2020

Health guidance on covering your face to prevent the spread of COVID-19


Dear Members of the CMU Community:

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) and Pennsylvania Governor Tom Wolf have recommended that individuals wear face coverings in public, in addition to observing physical distancing measures, to help stem the spread of COVID-19.

For the health and safety of our community, we are asking everyone to wear a face covering when on campus, whether outside in public areas or inside a building. We also encourage everyone to follow CDC guidance in their personal lives and wear a face covering when you go out in public.

According to the CDC, recent studies have shown that a significant portion of individuals who have COVID-19 lack symptoms, and even those who later develop symptoms can transmit the virus to others before their symptoms appear. This means the virus can spread between people in close proximity even if they are not showing symptoms at the time.

A cloth face covering can reduce the risk of transmission in these situations, but does not negate the need for physical distancing. The cloth face coverings recommended are not surgical masks or N-95 respirators; those masks are critical supplies and must continue to be reserved for health care workers and other medical first responders. Cloth face coverings can include a scarf that you already own, or can easily be made with or without sewing. Information regarding how to make, use and care for cloth face coverings can be found on the CDC’s website.

We know most of the university is already working remotely, and we appreciate everyone who has made that transition. Please continue to do so, as staying home is the best way to help keep our community safe. We urge you to follow President Jahanian’s guidance and refrain from coming to campus unless you are authorized to perform essential work or research that must be performed there. If you must come to campus, it is recommended you wear a face covering.

Students who are living on campus should wear a face covering when in public. If you are a student and need assistance finding a face covering, please contact Enterprise Risk Management. Undergraduate students will continue to have access to the Tepper School Lobby, Cohon University Center and their residence halls. All other campus buildings are open to authorized individuals only.

The university already has provided face coverings to many of the employees whose jobs require them to work on campus every day, and has a limited supply of additional face coverings, which it has made available to supervisors for distribution. Employees whose jobs require them to work on campus daily who have not received a face covering from the university also may, with the approval of their supervisor, purchase their own face coverings and the expense will be reimbursed by the university per our standard reimbursement policy.

Similarly, researchers who have been approved for doing specific research-related activities on campus are expected to provide their own face coverings to be worn while performing those activities. If no coverings/masks are available from their home or laboratory, they may purchase their own materials for a covering and be reimbursed.

In these uncertain times, the use of face coverings is a visible way to show protection and care for our community — particularly the most vulnerable among us.


Beth Kotarski, DNP, FNP, WHNP-BC
Executive Director, University Health Services