McMaster update on masking options for winter term
A well-fitted, high-quality mask that covers your nose and mouth is a key layer of defense during the COVID-19 pandemic.
With so much information circulating on masking we checked with McMaster expert Ravi Selvaganapathy, who says effective masks can range from a three-layer cloth mask to a surgical version, depending on personal preference and the environment the person is entering. Please see here for a masking Q&A, where experts provide their insights on masking quality and fit.
The university continues to adhere to provincial guidance on masking, but as the gradual return to campus begins McMaster wants to ensure that people feel as comfortable as possible. So the university has ordered shipments of Level 3 surgical masks that will be available free of charge for all students, faculty and staff, for those who wish to use them.
While the surgical masks will be available, there are many other good mask options that people may choose to wear as long as they meet the minimum safety standards of the Ontario Health guidance. This guidance also encourages Ontarians to save N95 masks for health care workers.
Faculty, staff, and students in specific clinical settings should follow the guidance of these areas.
Surgical masks normally required in labs or other areas will continue to be provided separately by those areas.
“A good mask should have sufficient filtration capability, should be easy to breathe through and should fit close to the person’s face,” says Ravi Selvaganapathy, professor of mechanical engineering and director of the Centre of Excellence in Protective Equipment and Materials (CEPEM) . Different types of masks are appropriate for different settings, situations, and personal preference. While an n95 is appropriate for a hospital setting, which is higher risk, a triple layer cloth mask, can be an effective option for areas such as the grocery store, for example.”
The arrival date and distribution plans to deliver these masks are still being finalized. Supply chain issues have impacted many goods, but the university’s supplier is confident in the delivery. More information will be released as soon as it becomes available.
Masks must be worn in all indoor spaces at the university and in outdoor settings where physical distancing cannot be maintained. Masking is just one of many layers of safety that McMaster has in place as part of its gradual return of in-person learning and working in the coming weeks.