COVID-19: Vaccine Program | TestingVisitor Guidelines | Information for Employees

Mask Protocol

Updated October 20, 2023

Masks are currently RECOMMENDED for all patients and visitors in both outpatient and inpatient settings at UConn Health due to the increase in COVID-19 community transmission.

Masks are currently REQUIRED for patients, visitors and staff in any area of UConn Health if:

  • You have symptoms that may be due to respiratory illness.
  • You have had a known, recent (within the last 10 days) high-risk exposure to COVID-19.
  • You are part of the UConn Health workforce and are required to be masked upon return to work after a COVID-19 infection.

Masks are also REQUIRED to be worn by our providers and staff:

  • During all direct, patient-facing interactions in both outpatient and inpatient settings. This includes when entering a patient room or prolonged, close contact with a patient; and
  • In specific units or departments as needed, as determined by local leaders and UConn Health leadership in consultation with Infection Prevention and the COVID-19 Call Center.

Masks are available at UConn Health’s public entrances for patients and visitors in need of one.

Please remember the following important points:

  • Health care personnel should follow CDC Standard Precautions and Transmission-Based Precautions. This includes wearing the appropriate personal protective equipment when evaluating patients with symptoms of respiratory illness and when splash or spray may occur.
  • High-risk individuals are especially encouraged to mask.
  • Masking is recommended when prolonged or close contact is anticipated.
  • To support physical and emotional safety, providers should wear a mask when a patient chooses to wear a mask.
  • The COVID-19 Call Center will provide masking instructions to employees returning to work after COVID-19 infection.

UConn Health will continue to monitor COVID-19 data and trends, as well as state and federal public health guidance. Masking and other COVID-19 protocols will continue to evolve and be revised based on this information.

Patients and Visitors

Where masks are recommended or required at UConn Health, patients and visitors are permitted to wear their own well-fitting cloth mask, disposable mask, or respirator upon arrival and throughout their visit to UConn Health. This excludes gaiters, bandanas, and masks with exhalation valves.

  • Patients who are not able to wear an approved mask for medical reasons should speak with their care team regarding their individual circumstances prior to coming to campus for the visit.
  • Visitors who are not able to wear an approved mask will be encouraged to use telephone or virtual communication. Exceptions for extenuating circumstances are made at the discretion of clinical leadership.
  • Masks should not be placed on young children under age 2 or anyone who cannot wear one safely due to a disability.
  • Masks will be available at UConn Health’s public entrances for patients and visitors in need of one.

Appropriate Masking for Employees, Learners, and Other UConn Health Workforce Members

Masks are now currently required in all inpatient, Emergency Department and outpatient settings during direct, patient-facing interactions, and in any location, for any individual at UConn Health, including employees and learners, who has signs or symptoms of respiratory illness or a known, recent (within the last 10 days) high-risk exposure to COVID-19.

  • Acceptable, well-fitting masks must continue to be worn in these areas and circumstances.
  • Gaiters, bandanas and masks containing exhalation valves* are NOT considered acceptable masks to satisfy this masking requirement.
  • Masks must be worn correctly, covering the nose and mouth, while in areas of UConn Health where masks are required.
  • Masks should be provided by the department manager or supervisory personnel in the area the individual is working. Masks are also available at UConn Health entry points for those who may need them upon entry. Managers should contact PPE@uchc.edu for re-supply as necessary.
  • Face masks can be worn throughout the shift and upon return to work if stored safely, handled properly and when not soiled, wet or distorted.
  • In the event that the mask becomes visibly soiled, saturated or damaged, a new mask must be obtained.
  • All personnel are asked to make every effort to help preserve the supply of PPE and reduce the need for replacement masks whenever possible.

Questions? Visit Masking Guidelines Frequently Asked Questions for more information.

Updated June 27, 2023

Masks are OPTIONAL in all UConn Health facilities. This includes all UConn Health inpatient settings the emergency department, procedural settings, outpatient clinics and dental clinics, urgent cares, hallways, cafes/cafeteria, and UConn Health shuttle buses, other than the exceptions outlined below.

Masks continue to be REQUIRED in the following circumstances:

  • For interactions with symptomatic patients, until COVID-19 testing is negative;
  • For interactions with patients determined by the providers to be immunocompromised; and
  • When a patient or their family member requests that the provider wear a mask.

Additionally, masking continues to be required:

  • In any location, for any individual at UConn Health (employee, learner, patient) who has signs or symptoms of respiratory illness.*
    *Important: Employees should not come to work sick. Those with respiratory symptoms should call the COVID-19 Call Center for guidance on evaluation and testing.
  • For those required to be masked upon return to work after a COVID infection; and
  • For any individual with a known, recent (within the last 10 days) high-risk exposure to COVID-19.

Please remember the following important points:

  • Health care personnel should follow CDC Standard Precautions and Transmission-Based Precautions. This includes wearing the appropriate personal protective equipment when evaluating patients with symptoms of respiratory illness and when splash or spray may occur.
  • Health care personnel should wear masks if patients or family members request them to do so.
  • Any individual who prefers to mask in areas where masking is optional should feel free to continue masking.
  • High-risk individuals are encouraged to continue masking.
  • Masking is recommended when prolonged or close contact is anticipated.
  • To support physical and emotional safety, providers should wear a mask when a patient chooses to wear a mask.
  • The COVID-19 Call Center will provide masking instructions to employees returning to work after COVID-19 infection.

UConn Health will continue to monitor COVID-19 data and trends, as well as state and federal public health guidance. Masking and other COVID-19 protocols will continue to evolve and be revised based on this information.

Patients and Visitors

When masks are required at UConn Health , patients and visitors are permitted to wear their own well-fitting cloth mask, disposable mask, or respirator upon arrival and throughout their visit to UConn Health. This excludes gaiters, bandanas, and masks with exhalation valves.

  • Patients who are not able to wear an approved mask for medical reasons should speak with their care team regarding their individual circumstances prior to coming to campus for the visit.
  • Visitors who are not able to wear an approved mask will be encouraged to use telephone or virtual communication. Exceptions for extenuating circumstances are made at the discretion of clinical leadership.
  • Masks should not be placed on young children under age 2 or anyone who cannot wear one safely due to a disability.
  • Masks will be available at UConn Health’s public entrances for patients and visitors in need of one.

Appropriate Masking for Employees, Learners, and Other UConn Health Workforce Members

While masks no longer are required for inpatient and Emergency Department direct, patient-facing interactions, they still are required, in any location, for any individual at UConn Health, including employees and learners, who has signs or symptoms of respiratory illness or a known, recent (within the last 10 days) high-risk exposure to COVID-19.

  • Acceptable, well-fitting masks must continue to be worn in these areas and circumstances.
  • Gaiters, bandanas and masks containing exhalation valves* are NOT considered acceptable masks to satisfy this masking requirement.
  • Masks must be worn correctly, covering the nose and mouth, while in areas of UConn Health where masks are required.
  • Masks should be provided by the department manager or supervisory personnel in the area the individual is working. Masks are also available at UConn Health entry points for those who may need them upon entry. Managers should contact PPE@uchc.edu for re-supply as necessary.
  • Face masks can be worn throughout the shift and upon return to work if stored safely, handled properly and when not soiled, wet or distorted.
  • In the event that the mask becomes visibly soiled, saturated or damaged, a new mask must be obtained.
  • All personnel are asked to make every effort to help preserve the supply of PPE and reduce the need for replacement masks whenever possible.

Questions? Visit Masking Guidelines Frequently Asked Questions for more information.

COVID-19 rates in Connecticut have declined and the proportion of patients hospitalized for COVID-19 has decreased. While COVID-19 and other contagious respiratory illnesses remain a concern, the decreases in the COVID-19 rates have sustained. Based on these trends, as well as increasing population immunity, and public health guidance, UConn Health is updating its Masking Protocol effective April 27, 2023.

Masks continue to be REQUIRED in the following circumstances:

  • For all direct, patient-facing interactions in inpatient, Emergency Department, perioperative, or procedural settings (other than in the dental clinics).
  • In any location, for any individual at UConn Health (employee, learner, patient) who has signs or symptoms of respiratory illness.*
    (*Important: Employees should not come to work sick. Those with respiratory symptoms should call the COVID-19 Call Center for guidance on evaluation and testing.)
  • For any individual with a known, recent (within the last 10 days) high-risk exposure to COVID-19.

In all other circumstances, masks are now OPTIONAL in all UConn Health facilities. This includes all UConn Health outpatient clinics and dental clinics, urgent cares, hallways, cafes/cafeteria, and UConn Health shuttle buses.

Please remember the following important points:

  • Health care personnel should follow CDC Standard Precautions and Transmission-Based Precautions. This includes wearing the appropriate personal protective equipment when evaluating patients with symptoms of respiratory illness and when splash or spray may occur.
  • Health care personnel should wear masks if patients or family members request them to do so.
  • Any individual who prefers to mask in areas where masking is optional should feel free to continue masking.
  • High-risk individuals are encouraged to continue masking.
  • Masking is recommended when prolonged or close contact is anticipated.
  • To support physical and emotional safety, providers should wear a mask when a patient chooses to wear a mask.
  • The COVID-19 Call Center will provide masking instructions to employees returning to work after COVID-19 infection.

UConn Health will continue to monitor COVID-19 data and trends, as well as state and federal public health guidance. Masking and other COVID-19 protocols will continue to evolve and be revised based on this information.

Patients and Visitors

When masks are required at UConn Health in inpatient care areas and the Emergency Department, patients and visitors are permitted to wear their own well-fitting cloth mask, disposable mask, or respirator upon arrival and throughout their visit to UConn Health. This excludes gaiters, bandanas, and masks with exhalation valves.

  • Patients who are not able to wear an approved mask for medical reasons should speak with their care team regarding their individual circumstances prior to coming to campus for the visit.
  • Visitors who are not able to wear an approved mask will be encouraged to use telephone or virtual communication. Exceptions for extenuating circumstances are made at the discretion of clinical leadership.
  • Masks should not be placed on young children under age 2 or anyone who cannot wear one safely due to a disability.
  • Masks will be available at UConn Health’s public entrances for patients and visitors in need of one.

Appropriate Masking for Employees, Learners, and Other UConn Health Workforce Members

At UConn Health masks are still required for all inpatient and Emergency Department direct, patient-facing interactions. Also, they are required in any location, for any individual at UConn Health including employees and learners who have signs or symptoms of respiratory illness or with a known, recent (within the last 10 days) high-risk exposure to COVID-19.

  • Acceptable, well-fitting masks must continue to be worn in these areas and circumstances.
  • Gaiters, bandanas and masks containing exhalation valves* are NOT considered acceptable masks to satisfy this masking requirement.
  • Masks must be worn correctly, covering the nose and mouth, while in areas of UConn Health where masks are required.
  • Masks should be provided by the department manager or supervisory personnel in the area the individual is working. Masks are also available at UConn Health entry points for those who may need them upon entry. Managers should contact PPE@uchc.edu for re-supply as necessary.
  • Face masks can be worn throughout the shift and upon return to work if stored safely, handled properly and when not soiled, wet or distorted.
  • In the event that the mask becomes visibly soiled, saturated or damaged, a new mask must be obtained.
  • All personnel are asked to make every effort to help preserve the supply of PPE and reduce the need for replacement masks whenever possible.

Questions? Visit Masking Guidelines Frequently Asked Questions for more information.

Patients and Visitors

Patients and visitors are permitted to wear their own well-fitting cloth mask, disposable mask, or respirator upon arrival and throughout their visit to UConn Health. This excludes gaiters, bandanas, and masks with exhalation valves.

  • Patients who are not able to wear an approved mask for medical reasons should speak with their care team regarding their individual circumstances prior to coming to campus for the visit.
  • Visitors who are not able to wear an approved mask will be encouraged to use telephone or virtual communication. Exceptions for extenuating circumstances are made at the discretion of clinical leadership.
  • Masks should not be placed on young children under age 2 or anyone who cannot wear one safely due to a disability.
  • Masks will be available at UConn Health’s public entrances for patients and visitors in need of one.

Appropriate Masking for Employees, Learners, and Other UConn Health Workforce Members

Universal Masking remains in clinical and patient-care areas throughout UConn Health facilities, and all common and public areas in buildings where patients may be present.

  • Acceptable, well-fitting masks must continue to be worn in these areas.
  • Gaiters, bandanas and masks containing exhalation valves* are NOT considered acceptable masks to satisfy this masking requirement.
  • Masks must be worn correctly, covering the nose and mouth, while in areas of UConn Health where masks are required.
  • Masks should be provided by the department manager or supervisory personnel in the area the individual is working. Masks are also available at UConn Health entry points for those who may need them upon entry. Managers should contact PPE@uchc.edu for re-supply as necessary.
  • Face masks can be worn throughout the shift and upon return to work if stored safely, handled properly and when not soiled, wet or distorted.
  • In the event that the mask becomes visibly soiled, saturated or damaged, a new mask must be obtained.
  • All personnel are asked to make every effort to help preserve the supply of PPE and reduce the need for replacement masks whenever possible.

Questions? Visit Masking Guidelines Frequently Asked Questions for more information.

*Note: N95s with exhalation valves are approved in certain clinical settings as long as they are issued by UConn and the employee wears an approved procedure mask over the N95. For questions on this matter, please consult UConn Health Environmental Health and Safety.

    Universal Mask Protocol Update (Effective May 20, 2021)

    UConn Health has had a Universal Mask Protocol in place since April 3, 2020 with periodic updates based on COVID-19 data, safety evidence, and state and federal public health recommendations. The new guidance issued on May 19, 2021 by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), does not apply to UConn Health as a health care institution. The Universal Mask Protocol remains unchanged and in effect at UConn Health for all indoor facilities.

    These guidelines will continue to be updated based on guidance from federal and state agencies, the proportion of the population that is fully vaccinated and the rapidly evolving science and understanding of COVID-19 transmission.

    Key Points Applicable to All UConn Health Sites

    • This protocol requires everyone in UConn Health facilities, regardless of vaccination status, to wear an approved mask at all times while in any public space or any area where they may be within 6 feet of someone else, absent a medical contraindication.
    • Gaiters, bandanas and masks containing exhalation valves* will NOT be considered acceptable masks in satisfying our universal masking requirement.
    • Any individual who seeks to enter the facility without an acceptable mask will be provided one at entry which will be required to be worn while at UConn Health.
    • As a reminder, approved masks must be worn correctly, covering the nose and mouth, while at any UConn Health facility.
    • In situations in which masks are removed (i.e., eating), individuals must maintain greater than 6 feet of distance from others.
    • Continuous wearing of masks is not required in outdoor spaces where a 6-foot distance from others can be maintained.

    *Note: N95s with exhalation valves are approved in certain clinical settings as long as they are issued by UConn and the employee wears an approved procedure mask over the N95. For questions on this matter, please consult UConn Environmental Health and Safety.

    Patients and Visitors

    Patients and visitors are permitted to wear their own well-fitting cloth mask, disposable mask, or respirator upon arrival and throughout their visit to UConn Health. This excludes gaiters, bandanas, and masks with exhalation valves.

    • Patients who are not able to wear an approved mask for medical reasons should speak with their care team regarding their individual circumstances prior to coming to campus for the visit.
    • Visitors who are not able to wear an approved mask will be encouraged to use telephone or virtual communication. Exceptions for extenuating circumstances are made at the discretion of clinical leadership.
    • Masks should not be placed on young children under age 2 or anyone who cannot wear one safely due to a disability.

      Employees, Learners, and Badged Contractors

      Employees, learners, and badged contractors will continue to be required to wear UConn Health issued procedure masks while in any UConn Health facilities. This includes clinical, academic, research, institutional support, administrative, facilities, dining, and all other areas.

      • All personnel are asked to make every effort to help preserve the supply of PPE and reduce the need for replacement masks whenever possible.
      • Face masks should be provided by the department manager or supervisory personnel in the area the individual is working. While masks are available at entry points, supplies are limited and should be reserved for unusual circumstances.
      • Managers should contact PPE@uchc.edu for issuance.
      • Face masks can be worn throughout the shift and upon return to work if stored safely, handled properly and when not soiled, wet or distorted.
      • In the event that the mask becomes visibly soiled, saturated or damaged, a new mask must be obtained.

        Different masks worn for COVID-19

        Bandanas, gaiters, and masks with exhalation valves are not allowed.

        Please wear a mask that covers your nose and mouth when entering our facility. If you do not have a mask, or if your face covering is one of the unacceptable types, we will provide a mask for you.

        Frequently Asked Questions

        Who is required to wear procedure masks in UConn Health facilities? Does this new policy apply to patients and visitors?

        All employees, contractors, patients, learners, visitors and others are required to wear procedure masks issued by UConn Health while in UConn Health facilities. If your department requires you to wear specific or additional personal protective equipment as part of your work providing care to patients, you must follow those department-specific protocols. Otherwise, everyone must wear a UConn Health-issued procedure mask while in any UConn Health location. This includes those in academic offices, research spaces, cafeterias, administrative offices, and other UConn Health locations.

        Can I purchase my own procedure masks to wear at work, or must I only use a procedure mask issued by UConn Health? What if I already have my own reusable/disposable KN95 mask?

        Only UConn Health-issued procedure masks are acceptable. Because there are so many masks available for purchase and because the quality and level of protection of these masks vary greatly (including for KN95 masks that may be purchased), UConn Health cannot attest to the quality/protection of masks that are purchased outside the institution, regardless of their claimed material. By only allowing UConn Health issued procedure masks, we can guarantee a uniform standard of protection across the institution, which will better shield our employees and others from infection and will improve our management of employee exposures. UConn Health-issued procedure masks may be worn over cloth, KN95 or other masks if desired.

        How will the masks be issued?

        Mask dispensers are located at most entrances to UConn Health facilities or will be made available through your department management. Please only take a mask if you do not already have one. Procedure masks are securely stored in each clinical setting, and managers and departments may also order masks by emailing ppe@uchc.edu.

        How often should procedure masks be replaced?

        Procedure masks may be worn for as long as possible, as long as they are not visibly soiled, saturated or damaged. In the event that the mask becomes visibly soiled, saturated or damaged, a new mask must be obtained. All personnel should make every effort to help preserve the supply of PPE and reduce the need for replacement masks whenever possible. Infection Control guidelines should be followed on the use, reuse and storage of procedure masks.

        Do we need to wear procedure masks if we are going to be further than 6 feet from others while in our offices or elsewhere in UConn Health facilities?

        Employees work in a range of environments and have different office, cubicle and workstation configurations. Not all work settings have the same airflow or physical desk set up. As a general rule, wearing procedure masks is encouraged at all times regardless of office or lab setting. If you work in an area where the person at a neighboring desk or cubicle is less than 6 feet away, wear a mask at all times. If your workspace is in a confined, shared room with other colleagues, wear a mask at all times (even if your desks/cubicles are greater than 6 feet apart). If you are unsure if you share air space, please wear a mask. Those who are further than 6 feet from others in private offices with doors may remove their masks while alone in their office, but must don a mask when another person enters the space.

        Are there any other times when we may remove our masks?

        Masks may be removed temporarily when eating, but individuals must maintain greater than 6 feet of distance from others when doing so.

        Do we need to wear a mask on campus while walking outside or to my car?

        Yes, to keep yourself and colleagues safe, and to set an example for the public and to reduce any confusion associated with the universal masking policy, masks must be worn as you exit your vehicle and kept on as you enter UConn Health facilities. Personal masks, including cloth masks, may be worn while on route to pick up a procedural mask at the facility’s entrance, if necessary. At the end of shift, personnel are asked to maintain their use of a mask until they get to their vehicle.

        Based on recent CDC research about the benefits of double masking, do we now need to wear two masks at work?

        A recent study from the CDC demonstrated that improving the facemask fit can increase its effectiveness in blocking respiratory droplets emitted from the wearer and protecting the wearer from exposure to respiratory droplets. The procedure masks issued to patients and employees at UConn Health contain multiple layers of material with a high level of filtration, and wearing multiple disposable masks is not recommended. We do recommend measures to ensure that masks fits securely over your face without gaps on the sides, which may include:

        • Tying knots on the mask’s ear loops and tucking in and flattening the extra material against your face.
        • Using a mask fitter or brace to cinch the mask​ closer to your face.

        How to knot and tuck ear loops of a 3-ply mask    How to use a mask fitter or brace