Masking protocols and a values-based approach to norms in the classroom

As we start to anticipate the needs of students and instructors at the start of term, we recognize that some folks will be on-campus and in-person for the first time since the pandemic began. We know that setting the tone for the class at the start of term is very important and we wanted to address masking and distancing practices you may wish to consider with your class from the first day.

The university has established procedures and practices to the best of their ability with the most current information. Please stay informed by reading the covid19 website regularly and checking USask email communications. 

At the time of this publication, the university supports 4Rs for masking adherence: Remind; Request; Remove; Report.

We propose framing these as a conversation around shared values with students. Consider having students help you refine and adapt these to your specific context. Helping students have ownership and agency in a class community agreement is a way to acknowledge their inherent value and agency as learners in a shared space – this is an act of reciprocity.


“We remind each other to mask over nose and mouth, particularly after drinking/eating, because mistakes happen and it’s how we learn.”

Students and faculty may not be accustomed to regular mask wearing. We accept reminders from each other with grace and thankfulness.


“We respect each others’ space by wearing a single-use 3-ply-nonmedical or medical mask.”

We accept that mask wearing is an effective way of reducing exposure. We want our neighbours to be able to expect a consistent level of safety in our presence.


“We remove ourselves from the room if we are uncomfortable (and please connect with your instructor or academic leader before/after)”

No one has to stay in an unsafe position. It is important that students communicate with the instructor before/after a situation where they remove themselves so that we can learn from it and adapt as needed. In the position that it is the instructor who is made uncomfortable by a student’s behaviour, the instructor can ask all students to leave the classroom and then connect with campus security to address any remaining concerns.


“If we can’t find reciprocity, we know there are conflict resolution structures for our safety.”

In any situation where clear communication does not result in consensual agreement or breaks down, please use the reporting structures established by your academic unit (usually Associate Dean Students or Academic). These structures are in place to protect both instructors and students.

And a bonus step

“We are brave in trying new (old) things”

We are all learning together how to act in this novel situation yet conventional space. Please anticipate that some tasks will feel routine and others will feel completely new. As educators, we can be open with students that not everything will go as planned and that we will do our best to adapt and adjust.

Please feel free to adapt this slide (pptx file) in your own teaching with attribution to the Gwenna Moss Centre for Teaching and Learning at the University of Saskatchewan. Please reach out to Wenona Partridge or Aditi Garg at the centre if you have any questions regarding using values or setting norms in the classroom.

Please reach out for support:


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