Can BYU students grow a beard under their masks?

BYU’s dress-and-grooming standards prohibit students from growing a beard, but what if it’s hidden under a mask? (Canva Illustrations)

The Daily Universe is answering student, staff and parents’ questions about how the coronavirus will impact the BYU community during Fall Semester 2020 in a series of stories. Submit questions at 

BYU announced on June 23 that masks are required in classes and buildings on campus for Fall Semester due to the risk of a COVID-19 spread. BYU’s dress-and-grooming standards prohibit beards, but students question whether the school will enforce the policy amid a pandemic since most facial hair would be hidden beneath a mask.

In particular, Twitter user @LyleSchow asked if the BYU Testing Center will force students to take off their masks to prove they have shaved.

The Daily Universe asked students to weigh in on the issue in an informal survey on its Instagram account, and the majority of students called the beard rule outdated and said BYU should not enforce it.

Some students in particular, including sophomore Hallie Neff, said it should not be enforced because it would require students to take off their masks, defeating the purpose of face coverings.

Several male students said they would grow a beard under their masks, though a few stood by their commitment to the Honor Code and said they would not.

“I said I wouldn’t, and my integrity is stronger than my laziness,” said BYU student John Hunt.

Though he has no plans to grow a beard himself, Hunt believes BYU should not enforce the beard policy at the Testing Center since “masks are more important to focus on.”

As is the case in all BYU buildings this fall, masks must be worn in the Testing Center before, during and after an exam. However, the Testing Center does plan on requiring students to remove their masks for a brief moment in order to receive their tests.

“Although this is subject to change if necessary, students taking their exams at the Testing Center will still need to verify their identification against their picture ID before checking out their exams,” BYU Center for Teaching and Learning Associate Director Bryan Bradley said. “Under the current COVID-19 conditions, they will be asked to show their faces very briefly through a clear partition at our checkout counter so our staff will be able to confirm their identity.”

Bradley said the purpose of removing the mask is to confirm the identity of the student, but went on to explain they expect students to continue to follow the dress-and-grooming standards, which includes no beards.

“There are no changes in Testing Center policy in terms of encouraging students to adhere to their signed commitments to conduct themselves according to the BYU Honor Code,” Bradley said. “This includes academic honesty and dress-and-grooming standards.”

At the moment, it appears BYU students will not be able to keep a beard under their masks, at least in the Testing Center. Bradley did leave room for changes to the identification process in the future, depending on the state of the virus at BYU.

“As the semester begins and rolls forward, we will continue to monitor all aspects of testing in the Testing Center and make any changes to our practices as directed by the BYU administration,” Bradley said.

He added that the testing center’s first priority is to “help keep individuals safe,” and the second is to “provide continued exam security and proctoring services.”

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