Face Mask Accommodation

Memorial University recently implemented two new measures to keep the campus community safe

One of those measures was making COVID-19 vaccines mandatory for all students, faculty and staff for fall semester 2021.  The other is requiring non-medical face masks to be worn by all persons in all indoor spaces across all of Memorial's campuses.  Masks are not required in student residence rooms, individual offices, or cubicles, or while seated to eat or drink.

This resource page is designed to help students who are prevented from wearing a non-medical face mask for medical reasons (including the protected grounds of disability). 

Before Seeking an Accommodation

In addition to supporting all public health measures announced by the province, Memorial University also remains strongly committed to principles of equity and inclusion. While the Newfoundland and Labrador Human Rights Commission has declared that this mandatory face-covering order is appropriate and does not violate the Human Rights Act, Memorial University understands that there may be reasons why a student cannot wear a facial covering as defined above. Read more about Human Rights and COVID-19 at the HRC-NL website.

To assist students who feel they require a face mask accommodation, Memorial is providing an opportunity to receive such an accommodation through the Accessibility for Students with Disabilities Policy.  Accessibility Services (the Blundon Centre) will be assisting students on the St. John’s Campus to receive a face mask accommodation, where, and if, appropriate. 

It is important to note that face shields do not replace a non-medical face masks.  In addition, masks with exhalation valves should not be worn and neck gaiters, scarves and bandanas are not recommended, unless required as an alternative to a mask for accommodation purposes.  These alternatives mentioned above can be discussed in relation to your specific accommodation request.

Supporting Documentation

Each request for a face mask accommodation must be accompanied by sufficient medical documentation to support the student's request.  This documentation must be signed by a licensed healthcare provider, include sufficient detail regarding the request.  Students without access to a healthcare provider can book an appointment at the Student Wellness and Counselling Centre

Requesting an Accommodation

After reviewing all pertinent information from the province and the university about applicable public health measures, and if a student has sufficient documentation to support an accommodation due to medical or other reasons, they are encouraged to contact Accessibility Services (the Blundon Centre) to pursue an accommodation. Please email blundon@mun.ca or call 864-2156 to speak with a staff member. Given the large number of students being supported by Accessibility Services (the Blundon Centre), students can expect a virtual meeting with an Advisor within 5-7 business days.

Students who are granted accommodations

Students who are ultimately granted a face mask accommodation will be provided documentation outlining this accommodation.  These students will be permitted to access campus without wearing a face mask, as articulated in the accommodation letter.  Face mask accommodations may have an expiration date.  Once the accommodation period expires, students may be required to meet with Accessibility Services to renew the accommodation. 

Limitations

Students granted a face mask accommodation are asked to limit the time (where possible) that they spend on campus and are encouraged to limit interactions – to the extent possible – with others and to practice physical distancing and hand washing to help maintain the health of all campus community members.

Communicating your Accommodation

Members of the university community and general public are encouraged to act with compassion, empathy and understanding when they observe individuals not wearing facial coverings where typically required, however, students granted a face mask accommodation can reasonably expect to receive questions regarding their lack of facial coverings.  If a student is approached and ask about their lack of facial covering, they are encouraged to remain calm and simply state that they have been granted an accommodation by the university. 

In addition to receiving questions about a lack of facial covering, students may also be asked by a staff person to provide evidence of the approved accommodation.  As such, we encourage students to keep their accommodation letter with them at all times.  

UPDATED: September 3, 2021