This update is provided for archival purposes only.

Public Health guidance and University of Waterloo operations may have changed. For the most up-to-date information, please visit our COVID-19 frequently asked questions.

Face coverings are required in common indoor spaces on campus

Tuesday, July 21, 2020

This message was originally sent to graduate students by President Hamdullahpur, president and vice-chancellor.

  • Effective July 27, face masks or other face coverings are required in common use areas of University buildings 
  • We will share more information on the next phase of our staged return to campus plans in the coming weeks 
  • Please continue working from home until further notice 

Now that the Province of Ontario has entered Stage 3 of its reopening plan, I am sharing an important update on our plan to return to campuses. We are continuing to progress through our return to research labs, and are preparing for the next phase of a staged and safe return for some other functions later this summer.

Though I hope to be able to say “Welcome back, Waterloo” as soon as it is safe to do so, I ask that you continue to effectively do your research and your work activities remotely until you are given further direction or unless your supervisor has approved your work on campus.

Buildings on our campuses will continue to be accessible for essential services, approved research and other functions that are approved to be open. We will increase access to buildings as we initiate the next wave of return to campus and prepare to resume some classes, labs and clinics in September.

I will continue to share more information about our plans to allow more employees back to campus in the coming weeks. The safety of the entire campus community continues to be our top priority as we finalize our plans for a safe and gradual return.

You are required to wear a face covering on campus from July 27

When you do return to campus,  we are asking that you wear a face mask or other appropriate face covering in all common indoor spaces to help limit the spread of COVID-19.

Effective Monday, July 27, all employees, students, visitors and contractors are required to wear a face covering in common use areas of University buildings. This includes corridors, lobbies, washrooms, elevators and meeting rooms, or in any area where physical distancing is a challenge. Where you can establish and maintain a physical distance of two meters, you can remove your mask.  

A face covering is defined as a medical or non-medical mask or other covering, including a bandana, scarf or other fabric that covers the nose, mouth and chin to create a barrier to limit the transmission of respiratory droplets. 

This measure helps us align with the recent Waterloo Region bylaw making face coverings mandatory in indoor public spaces and follows evidence-based public health advice. We want to use all the tools at our disposal to minimize the risk to our community and protect the health of everyone on our campuses.


The requirement to wear a mask does not apply:  

  • to  people who are unable to wear a mask due to a medical condition or disability,  
  • to  children under the age of five, 
  • to  people who are hearing impaired, or  when  communicating with a person who is hearing impaired  and  the ability to see the mouth is essential for communication, or  
  • when  wearing a face covering would create a risk to the  wearer  related to their work, as determined by workplace safety guidelines. 

Where are face coverings not required?

When you can maintain a physical distance of two metres between you and other people, you can take your mask off.

In classroom, research and other learning environments, instructors can use their discretion to decide whether masks are needed based on the physical layout of the room, course activities and their own comfort level.

Ordering masks 

We will provide two cloth face masks to each employee and graduate student approved to return to campus. Your supervisor can coordinate ordering masks for you; please contact them to coordinate appropriately.

You can also bring your own mask or face covering as long as it covers your nose, mouth and chin. Waterloo-branded cloth masks are available for purchase at W Store.

If you cannot wear a face mask for any of the reasons listed above and would like an alternative, contact Occupational Health.

We’re all in this together

For your safety and the safety of those around you, please wear a mask or other face covering where required. Please also remember in your interactions with your colleagues that not everyone is able to safely wear a face covering.

Learn more

Learn more and find answers to Frequently Asked Questions on the University COVID-19 website.

Contact the Safety Office if you have any questions about face coverings.

I look forward to welcoming you back to Waterloo as we start our gradual return to campus.