Joint Provostial and Human Resources Guideline on Face Masks

August 10, 2020 (Updated September 17, 2020, November 17, 2020; March 3, 2021; May 12, 2021; August 25, 2021; March 11, 2022; March 15, 2022; May 1, 2022; July 4, 2022)

Effective July 1, 2022 the Mask Guideline is no longer in effect. This is subject to change at the discretion of the University administration as public health guidance, legal requirements, and understanding about COVID-19 evolve.

Masks Requirement

Wearing face masks is required in all indoor University spaces (including University-owned and leased spaces), whether restricted-access or open to the public, when physical distancing of at least two (2) metres cannot be maintained. “Indoor University spaces” are defined in the Policy. In leased spaces, occupants may also be subject to the policies and guidelines of the building owner or manager. Unless otherwise noted, these requirements apply regardless of an individual’s COVID-19 vaccination status.

“Face mask” is defined in the Policy. Non-medical masks with a clear panel are available from the U of T MedStore.


Face masks are not required, subject to health and safety requirements, public health advice, and legal requirements that pertain to specific factual circumstances, in the following circumstances:

  • When an individual is required to wear personal protective equipment in lieu of a non-medical face mask, as determined by the U of T Environmental Health & Safety office
  • When wearing a face mask would create a risk to the individual related to their work, as determined by the University’s workplace safety guidelines, or would create a health and safety risk to an individual who is not a worker as determined by worksite or activity-specific safety procedures; assessments may be conducted on a case-by-case basis by Environmental Health and Safety
  • When in University residence spaces that are not common areas, such as dorm rooms where the occupants are roommates or suitemates
  • When participating in athletic or fitness activities, playing a musical instrument in a rehearsal or performance, or performing in or rehearsing for an artistic performance (e.g., film, television, or theatrical production or concert)
  • While receiving a service that necessitates temporary removal of the mask
  • When eating or drinking
  • In learning and teaching environments, if it is determined that the delivery of a specific learning activity requires the temporary removal of face masks on the basis that wearing them would fundamentally undermine the effectiveness of that activity, and when the activity can be conducted safely
    • If instructors recommend that students remove masks temporarily for specific components of class, or if instructors choose to remove their own masks for pedagogical reasons, they must ensure that the learning activities occur in accordance with public health guidance, with appropriate safety measures in place, such as physical distancing, in alignment with the guidance of U of T’s Environmental Health & Safety office, and approved through applicable Divisional procedures
  • While attending a school within the meaning of the Education Act or a childcare program, provided the school or childcare program is operating in compliance with applicable guidance issued by public health and government authorities


Individuals may be exempt from this Guideline in the following situations:

  • If they require accommodation (e.g., for reasons of disability, religion, or other) under Ontario’s Human Rights Code and/or the Accessibility for Ontarians with Disabilities Act, 2005
  • Children under the age of two
  • If they have a physical health condition, mental health condition, or other health concerns that make it difficult to wear a face mask, including a medical condition that makes it difficult to breathe or to put on and remove a face mask without assistance, or someone who is unconscious or incapacitated
  • When the ability to see the mouth is required for communication, such as persons with hearing loss or deafness, or if communicating with a person with hearing loss or deafness, provided measures are in place to protect health and safety

Members of the community should not ask colleagues, students, or others at the University for supporting documentation or other proof regarding exemptions or accommodations under the Policy or this Guideline. In specific circumstances where individual health and safety is at risk, an individual who is unable to wear a face mask due to one of the reasons above may be asked by a manager or academic administrator to provide supporting documentation to the University through the appropriate office on a confidential basis. For example, employees, including faculty members, should provide documentation to Health & Well-being Services & Programs, or students should register with Accessibility Services.

Education and Enforcement

The University will focus on educating members of the community about the Policy and this Guideline, including about the benefits of face masks regarding community transmission of COVID-19, as well as the importance of accommodation and personal privacy regarding medical or other conditions.

Enforcement measures will focus primarily on an educational approach and will depend on the individual’s relationship with the University, the nature of an incident, the place in which it occurred, and the impact on others in that place. Additional training will be provided to Campus Safety Services on all three campuses about expectations regarding enforcement and engaging with community members not wearing a mask while at the University of Toronto.