Visitors will have to wear face coverings on the University of Wyoming campus and other university-owned facilities in an effort to slow the spread of COVID-19, the Board of Trustees announced Thursday evening, in an expansion of the university's mask requirements.

UW employees and students are already required to wear face coverings while on university property or when conducting university business or activities, including instruction and research.

People alone in an office or their residence hall room with the door closed don't have to wear face coverings at those times, however.

“We appreciate the board’s support of taking another step to create as safe an environment as possible for our students, employees, visitors and surrounding communities,” UW President Ed Seidel said in the announcement. “It has been well documented that wearing of masks and other practices help lower the risk of transmitting the virus to others and also may provide some degree of protection to ourselves, as well.”

Before students return to campus for the fall semester, with classes set to begin Aug. 24, all students and employees will have to take an at-home saliva test for COVID-19. Employees in the university's public-facing divisions that have opened this summer have already been tested.

All of the 288 student-athletes who returned to campus this summer have received nasal-swab tests, and they all tested negative for the coronavirus.

University leaders are still working on a COVID-19 policy that will outline the rule on face coverings as well as other guidelines such as physical distancing and what people should do if they develop symptoms which might indicate the presence of COVID-19.

The consequences for violating that policy will include disciplinary action as laid out in the student code of conduct or employee handbook, and visitors who refuse to comply with the rule on face coverings could be ordered to leave the campus.

One UW employee has tested positive for COVID-19, and he is believed to have contracted the virus at a private appointment off campus, according to Thursday's statement from UW. When he was on campus, he had been complying with social distancing and face protection rules.

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