Section D: Face Mask Expectations and Usage
General Policy (Updated 08/05/2021):
Beginning August 5, 2021, all state employees, contractors, and interns are required to wear face masks at all times while indoors in state facilities. This requirement applies to all state facilities throughout the State of Wisconsin regardless of the physical distance between individuals or the number of people present including:
- All indoor spaces including common spaces, stairwells, kitchenettes, hallways, corridors, restrooms, break rooms, elevators, cubicles, offices, and conference rooms
- Times in which employees may be waiting in line to enter the building
- Occasions in which employees are visiting enclosed buildings, while on business for the State
Additionally, face coverings are strongly recommended for all individuals when outdoors on state-managed property in situations when it is not possible to maintain six feet of physical distancing. Employees will also continue to adhere to agency direction if additional or different personal protective equipment has been provided by the agency. Employees who are unable to wear a mask should be directed to human resources for further assistance. These reasons may include a medical or mental health condition, disability, or job duties in which wearing a face mask would cause a health or safety risk.
Note: All employees, regardless of vaccination status, are required to follow all federal, state, local, tribal, or territorial laws, rules, and regulations, including business guidance, when working on non-state property. Failure to follow this guidance or any law, rule, or regulation may result in disciplinary action. The Departments of Corrections, Health Services, and Veterans Affairs may issue additional regulations for their employees, residents, and visitors of congregate living facilities.
The term “mask" or “face mask" may be used throughout these questions and should be considered synonymous with “face covering."
|1.||What is considered a face covering?||A face covering is defined as: a piece of cloth or other material that is worn to cover the nose and mouth completely. Cloth face coverings must be made with two or more layers of breathable fabric that is tightly woven (i.e., fabrics that do not let light pass through when held up to a light source).
A face covering does not include bandanas, single layer neck gaiters, face shields, goggles, scarves, ski masks, balaclavas, shirt or sweater collars pulled up over the mouth and nose, or masks with slits, exhalation valves, or punctures.
|||2.||Do I need to wear a mask indoors even if I can physically distance at all times?||Yes, masks are required at all times to help control the spread of COVID-19 within the worksite and the communities in which we live.|
|||3.||If I already had COVID-19 or tested negative do I have to wear a mask? ||Yes. Everyone must wear a face mask.|
|||4.||Is a space that has some open walls considered an outdoor space?||No, a space must be completely open on all sides to be outdoors. Opening windows does not create an outdoor space. |
|5.||When is it ok to remove my face covering||Employees are permitted to remove masks outdoors, working or spending time alone in a personal office or workspace with the door closed, operating a vehicle with no passengers, or while eating and drinking.|
I am not able to wear a mask due to a medical condition, mental health reason, or disability. What should I do?||
Employees who are unable to wear a mask due to a medical or mental health condition, or disability, should contact their human resources representative (e.g., medical, or reasonable accommodation coordinator) to complete a reasonable accommodation request. Employees who need to provide medical documentation will be advised during the process.|
I am not able to wear a mask based on a religious belief. What should I do? ||
Employees who are unable to wear a mask based on a religious belief should contact their human resources representative to discuss and potentially request an accommodation.|
Can I wear a face shield instead of a face mask?
No. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, it is not known if face shields provide protection to others from the spray of respiratory particles. CDC does not recommend use of face shields for normal everyday activities or as a substitute for cloth face coverings.
However, a face shield may be permitted for staff who have difficulty breathing through a mask. In this instance, the employee should discuss their concerns with human resources.
|||9.||My goggles or glasses fog up when I wear a mask. What can I do?||
Here are some tips. |
What do I do if I see someone not wearing a mask, even though they should be?||
Nothing. Some people have conditions or circumstances that would make wearing a cloth face covering difficult or dangerous. Follow the procedures for your personal circumstances. Employees who have concerns regarding face covering compliance are encouraged to discuss their concerns with their supervisor or human resources.|
Are there any other exceptions to the mask requirement?|
Employees who work in a setting where cloth face coverings may increase the risk of heat-related illness or cause safety concerns due to introduction of a hazard (for instance, straps getting caught in equipment) may consult with an occupational safety and health professional to determine the appropriate face covering for their setting.
As permitted by your agency, employees, while working alone in your own private office, conference room, or other enclosed space with the door closed, do not need to wear a mask, provided you can put on a face covering quickly if someone enters. If the door is open or you leave enclosed space, you are required to wear a mask. Employees are reminded to wipe down surfaces in their office with available disinfectant spray before leaving for the day.
If you remove your mask in a conference room, you must sanitize hard surfaces and anything you touch in a conference room both upon entering and before vacating the space.
- Face coverings may be removed when communicating with someone who is deaf or hard of hearing, and when communication cannot be achieved through other means.
- Face coverings may be removed to confirm identity when requested.
|||12.||My job is indoors and outdoors, what should I do? ||Employees are required to wear masks when indoors but may remove the mask when outdoors and when social distancing is possible. |
|||13.||If I participate in the state’s van pool (ride share), do I need to wear a mask while in the vehicle?||Yes, you must wear a mask.|
If a member of the public is not wearing a mask, can I deny them service?||
No, although signage at state facilities will ask that members of the public who are unvaccinated properly wear a mask, the State will not deny service for this reason. Members of the public should follow their local health department's guidance regarding the use of masks. Part of the reason to require employees to wear masks is to ensure the employee's personal protection. Masks will be available to members of the public doing business with the State.|
If I cannot deny service to a member of the public without a mask, can I ask them to wear a mask or to explain why they are not wearing a mask? ||
Signage at state facilities will make clear to members of the public that they are being asked to wear a mask if they are unvaccinated, so employees may not ask or require members of the public to wear a mask. Additionally, employees may not ask members of the public if they are vaccinated, meet the exception criteria or require them to explain why they are not wearing a mask. State employees are not responsible for ensuring the public's compliance with health or emergency orders and will respect individuals’ privacy, which may include medical information or personal history. As a reminder, employees should similarly not be making these inquiries of their co-workers. |
|||16.||I work in a position where I interact directly with the public and although I am wearing a mask, I am concerned about interacting with a member of the public or a co-worker who is not wearing a mask. What should I do?||Masks help to protect both the person wearing the mask as well as anyone they interact with. If you encounter someone who is not wearing a mask, maintain social distancing and stay behind protective barriers (plastic shields/windows/etc.) where possible. You can also talk to your supervisor or human resources about additional options or additional personal protective equipment.|
17.||Is it true that I could be subject to discipline for refusing to wear a mask if I am unvaccinated and/or if I do not have an approved reasonable accommodation?||
Yes, as is true for any required protective equipment, employees who refuse to wear a mask without authorization to do so may be subject to discipline up to and including termination.|
|18.||Are employees required to continue to wear masks even though the statewide order has ended?||Mask requirements are now in effect for state employees and will remain until it is determined to be a measure no longer needed to help protect the health and safety of our workforce. Employees will be notified of this change. |
Section E: COVID-19 Vaccine Considerations
While all employees are encouraged to get vaccinated against COVID-19, the state is not requiring employees to be vaccinated.
The Department of Health Services (DHS) provides
additional FAQs about the COVID-19 vaccine.
|1.||Can I get the vaccine now?||
As of April 5, 2021, everyone in Wisconsin ages 12 and older is eligible to get the COVID-19 vaccine. For more information on where to get a vaccine, visit vaccines.gov. You may also sign up for DHS Weekly COVID-19 Response and Vaccination Newsletters
How do I get the vaccine?||
You can receive the vaccine from your health care provider, pharmacy, or local or tribal public health agency. The easiest place to find a vaccine is visiting vaccines.gov. This website lists what providers have vaccine in your community and is searchable by vaccine manufacturer. Many vaccinators provide vaccine on a walk-in basis, while others may require appointments. There is an ample supply of vaccine throughout the state.
If I get the COVID-19 vaccine during my normal work hours, do I need to use personal leave?||
A reasonable amount of time in pay status will be provided to employees who elect to receive the vaccine during normal work hours. Employees should work with their supervisor to receive approval in advance, according to agency policy.
Vaccination clinics are being hosted by the State in August and September. Additionally, you can find a
vaccination site near you or your work site.|
Do I need to wear a mask and avoid close contact with others if I have gotten the vaccine?|
Yes. Everyone needs to continue practicing good protective behavior, even once fully vaccinated All employees should continue wearing a mask, washing your hands, and keeping six feet apart from others.
|5.||Do I need to quarantine after close contact with someone who tests positive for COVID-19 if I have gotten the vaccine?||
Vaccinated employees who have had close contact with someone positive for COVID-19 are not required to quarantine with the exception of some employees who provide direct patient care. Vaccinated employees who have had close contact with someone positive for COVID-19 should wear a mask and be tested 3-5 days after exposure with the infected person, even if the employee is not experiencing symptoms. If they test negative, they should continue to monitor for symptoms for 14 days and wear a mask anytime they are in indoor public settings. If they test positive, vaccinated employees should isolate per the above instructions for employees who test positive.
Can my employer require me to provide proof of vaccine?||
Yes. The Federal Equal Employment Opportunities Commission recently issued some guidance on this topic, saying that employers are permitted to ask employees whether they’ve been vaccinated. This does not implicate any protected rights under the Americans with Disabilities Act or HIPAA. Although vaccination information may be PHI, it is not a violation of HIPAA for an employer to ask its employees to reveal their vaccination status or to ask employees to provide documentation showing their vaccination status. For more information, please refer to the following
Section F: COVID-19 Vaccination Status Requirements
August 23, 2021, all executive branch employees and contract staff are required to provide their COVID-19 vaccination status and documentation by September 9, 2021. All executive branch employees, contract staff, interns, and volunteers continue to be required to wear masks while indoors in state facilities and while conducting state business. |
|||1.||Why is the State of Wisconsin requiring state employees to submit their COVID-19 vaccination status?||The State of Wisconsin is committed to making our buildings and worksites safe for our employees and citizens. This requirement will allow the state as an employer to understand our progress toward our overall goal of community immunity against COVID-19 through vaccination. Our employees are the most important part of state government, and without a healthy workforce, we cannot provide essential services for our residents and visitors to our state. |
|||2.||Who is required to submit their vaccination status?||This policy applies to all Wisconsin state employees, contractors, and interns within Wisconsin’s executive branch agencies, who are required, under any circumstances, to be physically present in a state facility. |
|||3.||What is considered being “fully vaccinated” for COVID-19?||You’re considered fully vaccinated against COVID-19 two weeks after you’ve received either a single-dose vaccine, like Johnson & Johnson, or the second dose of a two-dose vaccine like Pfizer or Moderna. The State of Wisconsin follows the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) and Department of Health Services (DHS) guidelines with respect to when an individual is fully vaccinated. |
|||4.||Does this requirement to report my vaccination status affect the state requirement for employees to wear masks in state facilities or while indoors on state business?||No. With rising case numbers due to the highly transmissible Delta variant in Wisconsin, all state employees and contractors are required to wear face masks when working in state buildings or when performing state work indoors. The Delta variant is more contagious and may cause more severe illness and people who are vaccinated and unvaccinated can spread it. Masks and physical distancing are our best line of defense in flattening the current surge due to the Delta variant.|
|||5.||How do I submit documentation of my vaccination status?||You can submit documentation of your vaccination status in STAR HR System. Log into the STAR HR Employee Self, under the My Information Tile - COVID-19 Vaccination section. Use the
COVID ESS Job Aid Instructions to identify your vaccination status and upload your supporting documentation. Acceptable documentation includes an electronic copy of a CDC COVID-19 vaccination card or an electronic copy of the Wisconsin Immunization Registry showing that you received the COVID-19 vaccine (i.e., Pfizer, Moderna, Johnson and Johnson/Janssen) and the date it was administered. If your vaccination status changes, please go back to STAR HR System to update your information. HR staff will verify the information submitted. |
|||6.||What is the deadline for submitting proof of my COVID-19 vaccination status?||Current State of Wisconsin employees need to submit proof of vaccination status no later than September 9, 2021. |
|||7.||Do new employees need to submit documentation of their COVID-19 vaccination status? ||New employees are required to provide documentation of their vaccination status in STAR HR System as soon as the new hire has access to the system. |
|||8.||What if I have personal, medical, or religious reasons for not wanting to get vaccinated? ||This policy does not require employees get a COVID-19 vaccination. It requires employees and contractors to provide their COVID-19 vaccination status. |
|||9.||Who will maintain documentation of my COVID-19 vaccination status information ||This information will be captured and maintained by human resources staff in STAR HR System. STAR is a secure system that adheres to the state of Wisconsin government record retention, IT privacy practices and compliance policies.|
|||10.||Does an employee on a leave of absence have to comply with the requirements of this policy?||Employees currently on approved leave will be required to submit their COVID-19 vaccination status and supporting documentation in STAR HR System prior to return to work from their approved leave.|
|||11.||Are employees given paid work time to get the COVID-19 vaccine? ||A reasonable amount of time in pay status will be provided to employees who elect to receive the vaccine during normal work hours. Employees should work with their supervisor to receive approval in advance, according to agency policy.
Vaccination clinics are being hosted by the State in August and September. Additionally, you can find a
vaccination site near you or your work site.|
|||12.||Who will my COVID-19 vaccination status information be shared with?||The vaccination information you provide will be treated as confidential medical records. It will be maintained separately for each employee as required under the American with Disabilities Act (ADA). Information regarding whether a staff member has submitted their vaccination status may be accessed by agency HR staff or other agency staff with a business need to know, and others authorized by law. This information will allow the state as an employer to understand our progress toward our overall goal of community immunity against COVID-19 through vaccination.|
|||13.||What if I cannot locate my COVID-19 vaccination card or documentation?||Contact the provider who administered the COVID-19 vaccination to request proof of vaccination. This may be a health department, pharmacy, or primary care provider. Documentation should include your name, the name of the healthcare facility/provider, type of vaccine, and the date(s) of vaccination. You can also access and print your COVID-19 vaccination record through the
Wisconsin Immunization Registry Public Information Access webpage, if you received your vaccination in Wisconsin, using the instructions below: |
- If you have a social security number, Medicaid ID, or Health Care Member ID, you can access your record through the Public Immunization Record Access webpage.
- If you do not have one of these numbers, you can access your record one of two ways:
Note: If you received your vaccination in another state, go to that state department of health website to determine how to get a copy of your record.
|||14.||What if I will not have received my second dose of COVID-19 by the September 9, 2021, deadline?||Submit documentation of your first dose by the deadline. Once you receive your second dose, submit documentation of full COVID-19 vaccination. |
|||15.||Do visitors, customers, and vendors to state agency facilities need to show proof of a vaccine?||No. Visitors, customers, and vendors are strongly encouraged to be vaccinated, but not required. Employees should not request the COVID-19 vaccination status of visitors, customers, or vendors. Like state employees, these individuals are required to follow the COVID-19 guidance while in a state facility, including any posted requirements in specific buildings or spaces. |
|||16.||Can I ask other co-workers about their COVID-19 vaccination status?||No. It is not appropriate to ask your colleagues about their COVID-19 vaccination status. A colleague may choose to voluntarily share that information with you if they wish; however, you should not ask anyone about their vaccination status.|
|||17.||Isn’t asking about my vaccination status and other health information a violation under HIPAA?||No. HIPAA, also known as the Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act of 1996, and its subsequently added Privacy Rule include provisions to protect a person’s identifying health information from being shared without their knowledge or consent. The law, though, only applies to specific health-related entities, such as insurance providers, health-care clearinghouses, health-care providers, and their business associates. Although vaccination information may be PHI, it is not a violation of HIPAA for an employer to ask its employees to reveal their vaccination status or to ask employees to provide documentation showing their vaccination status. For more information, please refer to the following
|||18.||What if I refuse to provide my COVID vaccination status and documentation? ||Your participation is important to helping state government make informed decisions about how to best protect state employees, contractors, and the public. Failure to complete the form in STAR HR System may result in disciplinary action. |
Section G: COVID-19 Vaccination Testing Requirements
EMPLOYEE TESTING REQUIREMENTS
October 18, 2021, any executive branch state employee, intern, or contract staff with access to the STAR HR System who has not provided documentation that they have completed their vaccine series must be tested at least weekly for COVID-19.|
|||1.||Is the State permitted to subject employees to COVID-19 testing?||Yes. The Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) issued updated guidance on June 28, 2021, related to employer required COVID-19 testing. The EEOC explained that due to the COVID-19 pandemic “employers may take steps to determine if employees entering the workplace have COVID-19 because the individual with the virus will pose a direct threat to the health of others.” The EEOC has provided that testing administered by employers consistent with current CDC guidance will meet the ADA’s “business necessity” standard. Consequently, employers applying current CDC guidance may administer COVID-19 testing to employees before they enter the workplace.|
|||2.||Who does the COVID-19 testing requirement apply to?
|This testing requirement will apply to all executive branch state employees, interns, and contract staff. Executive branch state employees, interns, and contract staff who are fully vaccinated from COVID-19 and have provided their vaccination status in the HR STAR system are exempted from this testing requirement. This requirement also does not apply to individuals who have an approved agreement in place to work 100% of the time at home and have no expectation, under any circumstances, to be physically present in a state facility or have contact with other state employees or members of the public while performing their duties. |
|||3.||How do I submit documentation of my tests results? ||Employees, interns, and contract staff who are not exempted must submit testing information and documentation in STAR HR System under the My Information Tile - COVID-19 Vaccine/Testing Status section. Testing information and/or documentation of test results must be uploaded within 24 hours of completing the test and/or receiving the test results. Agency HR representatives can help employees who may have issues, or those without computer access upload their vaccination status documentation.|
|||4.||Who will my testing results be shared with? ||The test results provided by employees will be considered confidential medical records and will be maintained separately for each employee who is tested as required under the American with Disabilities Act (ADA). The EEOC has indicated that disclosure of the name of an employee who tests positive for COVID to public health departments to assist in contact tracing is permitted. Should HR be asked for that information by a public health department, HR will comply with the request.|
|||5.||The policy notes “weekly” testing. What is the definition of “weekly?”||Weekly, within this policy, means every 7 days regardless of the days or shifts the employee works. This means if an employee tested first on a Tuesday, they would need to get the weekly test each Tuesday thereafter (at the latest). If they are unable to maintain a weekly testing pattern, they will need to ensure a test is on record within 7 days after the latest test. Unvaccinated employees on a paid or unpaid leave of absence resulting in a period of more than 7 days between tests must be tested within 72 hours of returning to work.|
|||6.||What if a person misses a week of testing or their test date falls a day late (had to test on the 8th day after the last test)? ||The policy reflects that weekly testing must occur. The testing could occur at a more frequent interval if the employee cannot participate in the weekly test on the specific day noted. For example, the employee typically tests weekly on Tuesdays, but cannot be available for a particular Tuesday - that employee would need to ensure they get tested prior to that day (ex: Monday). Then the employee’s next test would be required within 7 days thereafter. If the employee exceeds the 7-day testing interval (unless because of an approved absence), they may be deemed unfit for duty, sent home in unpaid status, and may be subject to discipline.|
|||7.||Will employees be provided paid work time to get the COVID-19 vaccine? ||Agencies and supervisors shall, to the maximum extent operationally feasible, accommodate requests by individuals to receive the COVID-19 vaccine during working hours. Accommodations may include allowing the individual to remain in pay status, providing flexible work schedules, allowing short notice requests for leave, and/or other flexibilities at the discretion of the agency. |
|||8.||Can I still submit proof of my COVID-19 vaccination status?||Yes. Beginning October 18, 2021, any executive branch state employee, intern, or contract staff who has not provided documentation that they have completed their vaccine series must be tested at least weekly for COVID-19. Individuals may provide proof of vaccination status up to and following this date but will be subject to weekly testing until they are fully vaccinated. |
|||9.||Will employees be required to use their own leave time if sent home due to a positive COVID-19 test?
|Employees will be required to use personal paid leave time just as they would if they are sent home or call-in sick due to other illnesses. Employees should work with their respective Human Resources Offices if they have questions. |
|||10.||Who is responsible for the COVID-19 testing costs (employer or employee), specifically for those State employees working in areas with no State-provided testing options? ||DOA, in consultation with DHS, will provide agencies and individuals with information regarding free testing locations and procedures that individuals can use during their working hours. In addition to the state-provided free testing options, employees, interns, and contract staff will also have the option of obtaining a weekly test on their own time via their health care provider, pharmacy, local public health office, or community-based testing location. Employees, interns, and contract staff who opt to use a non-state-provided testing provider will be responsible for any costs associated with the test.|