Mask-Wearing Required for In-Person SAS Meetings:
- Before meeting in-person with SAS staff all persons are required to wear a face-mask and maintain a minimum social distance of 6 ft.
- No exceptions will be considered to the SAS face mask policy.
- Appointments will be cancelled if student does not wear a face-mask and keep social distance.
Face Mask Wearing & Virginia Guidance
While SAS cannot respond to the University’s general mask policy, found through the following link (MU General Face Covering Policy), SAS can speak to accommodations considerations regarding student mask wearing exceptions in the following.
Virginia Governor Ralph Northam’s executive order 63 offers exemptions to enactment of the mask policy for disabilities access purposes (e.g., communications needs/lip reading or breathing obstructions). However, the choice to activate those exemptions will be made on a case-by-case basis with federal guidance in mind. For example, if a person’s context (e.g., place of business, work or place of commerce, or in this case small university classroom) is not considered safe in which to remove a mask, then their removal will not be authorized or required.
Accommodations Alternatives to the Removal of Standard Face Masks
Masks are necessary in order to limit the potential spread of COVID-19. However, there have been many challenges with standard face masks for the deaf community as they attempt to communicate in a newly masked world. The two major challenges that come with the use of traditional face masks include: 1) not being able to lipread; and/or 2) see one’s facial expressions. These are two things that many in the deaf and hard of hearing community rely on for daily communication. When the face is not visible preexisting challenges are amplified. It is for these reasons that the following three accommodations alternatives have been proposed at Marymount.
- Instructors might wear masks with a clear plastic window sewn into the fabric which could allow for lip reading.
- Instructors could wear a fabric hood with a viewing window which covers the entire head and neck area and would fit over their shoulders.
- Student might consider alternative enrollment options if clear mask or hood are impractical or cannot be implanted in a particular course/class.