On July 1, 2020, Pennsylvania Secretary of Health Dr. Rachel Levine
signed an Order
Requiring Universal Face Coverings.
As a result of the Order Requiring Universal Face Coverings (Order),
staff who provide direct services must wear a mask that covers the
staff person’s nose and mouth during the entirety of service
provision. The mask must be a cloth covering or other mask
that offers a higher degree of protection. This applies to all
OMHSAS services. For staff, plastic face shields are not
acceptable alternatives to masks.
Masks should be worn by individuals who receive services during the
provision of services in the community in line with the Order.
NOTE: Cloth face coverings are not considered Personal
Protective Equipment (PPE) and should not be worn in place of
recommended PPE when caring for an individual with COVID-19.
• In accordance with current Centers for Disease Control (CDC)
guidance, cloth face coverings should:
o Fit snugly but comfortably against the
side of the face;
o Be secured with ties or ear loops;
o Include multiple layers of fabric;
o Allow for breathing without restriction;
o Be able to be laundered and machine dried
without damage or change to shape.
• Masks are not required for children younger than 2 years of age or
anyone who has trouble breathing, is unconscious, incapacitated or
otherwise unable to remove the covering without assistance. If
an individual has trouble breathing or other medical or mental
health conditions that may be worsened with wearing a mask, seek
clarification with the individual’s health care practitioner
regarding mask use.
• Masks are not required for staff and individuals who are receiving
services if they are communicating or seeking to communicate with
someone who has a hearingimpairment or has another disability, where
the ability to see the mouth is essential for communication.
Additionally, clear face masks are an alternative and more
information can be found here: Clear Facemasks Resource.
• If, for medical or other reasons, an individual receiving services
is unable to wear a mask as required in the Order, the use of a full
face shield as an alternative may provide some benefit, particularly
against spread of respiratory droplets, and should be
• It is important to keep in mind that some individuals may have
difficulty adjusting to a mask or may be afraid or unsettled when
others wear masks. The following may help an individual adjust
to wearing a mask:
o Use the Wearing
a Mask Social Story on the ASERT website, with an animated
version at the bottom of the page.
o Ensure that the individual knows that the
individual will be able to breathe while wearing a mask if that is a
o While wearing a mask, look in the mirror
and talk about what it is like to wear a mask.
o Decorate a mask so the mask is
personalized and fun to wear.
o Show the individual pictures of other
people wearing masks.
o Use a mask with a clear window where
staff or caregiver’s mouths can be seen.
o Pin a picture of the staff or caregiver
without a mask on the staff or caregiver’s shirt.
• Other infection control practices, including screening, frequent
hand washing and social distancing remain important even if staff
and the individual receiving services are wearing masks.
NOTE: Failure to wear a mask during service provision is not
subject to OMHSAS’s Incident Management requirements and failure
does not need to be reported as an incident in the Enterprise
Incident Management (EIM) system unless otherwise directed by
OMHSAS. OMHSAS will respond to mask-related inquiries and
situations on a case-by-case basis.
Reference: Department of Health (DOH) Universal
Face Coverings Order Frequently Asked Questions