Navigating lunch with a face covering

Face coverings and lunch don't mix well, right? The university's updated face covering policy, as reported last week, clarifies that faculty, staff and students must wear them indoors, with just a handful of exceptions. One of those is while eating or drinking. But even then, Iowa Staters need to be cautious.

Employee lunch room

As part of local return-to-campus workplans completed this summer, units had to revise the capacity of their conference rooms and break rooms to respect 6-feet physical distance requirements -- and post those new capacities. Employees removing their face coverings to eat lunch in a designated break room or dining area should spread out, staggering lunch periods if needed to maintain distance and keep everyone safe. If office layouts don't allow employees to work at least six feet from each other, the practice of eating lunch at your desk should be abandoned for now.

Snacking at your desk

When coworkers are present, employees should minimize consuming food and drinks at their workstations. Faculty and staff should lower their face covering only for the time necessary to take a drink and promptly replace the face covering. Likewise, an afternoon popcorn snack shouldn't become an excuse to remove a face covering for 15 minutes while working at your desk. Instead, take it to a designated break area.

Remember to wear outdoors, too

The updated face covering policy notes they should be worn "on university property," including outdoors when others are -- or may be -- present and 6-foot distancing isn't a guarantee. Employees should remember to wear face coverings in parking lots, on sidewalks, at bus stops and on lawn areas where others might gather.