Letter from Jessica Evenson to SLU Community Re: Masks
Dear SLU Community,
With the Fall 2020 semester starting on Monday, I write to address lingering questions regarding the University’s Interim Mask Policy.
Living, learning, and working in community comes with significant responsibilities, particularly in a time of pandemic, as the Campus Commitment recently shared by President Pestello makes clear. One of those responsibilities is consistent and full compliance with our University Interim Mask Policy, which requires everyone on our St. Louis campuses—students, faculty, staff and visitors — to wear a face mask in all indoor settings on campus (with very few exceptions) and even outdoors on campus when social distancing is unpredictable or cannot be maintained. Whether in a classroom, a lab, a studio, the hallways and elevators of a residential building, etc.— masks are required of everyone.
Consistent with our mission, and in compliance with federal law, our Policy acknowledges that “individuals who are unable to wear a face mask due to medical reasons” may request mask-related accommodations as authorized under the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA). Exemptions to this Policy require documentation from a licensed diagnostician and are granted by the Disability Services (for students) and Human Resources (for staff and faculty). SLU’s ADA policy can be accessed here.
To clarify processes related to ADA accommodations to this Policy, a new set of frequently asked questions has been added to the Back to SLU page. Here you will find FAQs for students, faculty, and staff, including information about:
- How to request an accommodation/exemption
- What to do until an exemption has been granted
- What constitutes a “reasonable accommodation” in the classroom setting
- What role faculty members play in determining reasonable accommodations for their courses
It is important to note that, until an exemption from the Policy has been granted by the appropriate office and reasonable accommodations have been determined, individuals should plan to learn remotely, to continue living off campus, or to work remotely.
Because exemptions to this policy may impact others’ health and safety, it is important that we undertake an individualized, interactive process to engage in dialogue to arrive at reasonable accommodations for specific contexts. Although an individual with a disability may warrant an exemption from the Interim Mask Policy, the specific accommodations for that exemption will vary. What constitutes a “reasonable accommodation” is highly contextualized. Therefore, any mask-related ADA accommodation will be custom-tailored to specific student and employee needs in specific educational and work contexts.
Let me close by affirming that SLU is a welcoming community that values diversity, equity and inclusion. We are a community that seeks to honor the dignity of every individual. These commitments must extend fully to those who may be granted ADA accommodations related to wearing a face mask. Bias, discrimination, and harassment will not be tolerated in any form. All members of the SLU community are encouraged to initiate the University’s Bias Incident Protocol or to report violations of the University’s Harassment Policy to the Office of Institutional Equity and Diversity should they experience any such bias, discrimination or retaliation.
I wish you all the best fall 2020 possible. While it will not be a typical term at SLU, I share others’ confidence that the SLU community will, once again, rise to the challenge.
Vice President for University Compliance and Ethics