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Campus safety update regarding the wearing of non‑medical masks

Posted by Dalhousie University on July 29, 2020 in News

To:        Dalhousie faculty and staff

From:    Frank Harvey, Acting Provost and Vice-President Academic  

             Ian Nason, Vice-President Finance and Administration  

             Alice Aiken, Vice-President Research and Innovation  

Date:     Wednesday, July 29, 2020

Re:       Campus safety update regarding the wearing of non-medical masks

Aligned with the Province of Nova Scotia’s directive, Dalhousie University is requiring the use of non-medical masks or face coverings in most indoor common spaces on our campuses as a public health measure to help keep our community safe and limit the potential spread of COVID-19.

This directive, which is effective July 31, is being implemented in alignment with our peer universities across Nova Scotia along with recommendations set out by Nova Scotia Public Health, which can be found here.  

Where non-medical masks should be worn

  • Non-medical (i.e. cloth) masks should be worn by all staff, faculty, students and visitors to campus who are travelling through or working/studying in any indoor common areas and public spaces including buildings, libraries, food establishments, residences, hallways, stairwells, elevators, and common study areas. Physical distancing (2 metres) must still be observed while wearing non-medical masks. Please note that all modes of public transportation will also require masks to be worn. 
  • Masks will also be mandatory inside Dalplex when it reopens on August 4, but patrons/members are not required to wear masks during their workout activity. Dalplex day camps will continue to operate as per separate provincial guidance that specifies that the use of non-medical masks within the day camp setting is not required where physical distancing can be maintained. The majority of Dalplex's camp programming will take place outdoors this summer. 
  • While non-medical masks are not required in areas such as laboratories and classrooms, they can provide an added measure of protection to others while personnel are moving around within these spaces and their use in such circumstances is encouraged where practical. 
  • You are free to remove your non-medical mask in personal, private workspaces where a distance of two metres can be observed, or within students’ private residence rooms. You may also remove your mask briefly while eating and drinking, providing you are stationary and observing a safe physical distance from others.  
  • Individuals are welcome to wear non-medical masks or face coverings in other spaces and settings (outdoors, etc.) should they wish to do so, as an added precaution to help keep others safe. 
  • Exceptions to these requirements can include individuals with valid medical reasons for being unable to wear a mask, those who are unable to remove a mask on their own, and children under the age of 2.  Children between the ages of 2 and 4 are encouraged to wear masks, but we understand that this is sometimes difficult for parents and cannot always happen.  
  • Masks should be changed immediately if they become damp or soiled; be sure you are washing your hands before putting on your mask and after taking it off, and that you avoid touching your face while wearing one.  Frequent laundering is required to prevent cross contamination and microbial build up on reusable non-medical facial coverings.

Appropriately certified PPE is still required when physical distancing cannot be maintained

  • In accordance with our Return to Campus safety protocols, appropriately certified PPE (i.e. ASTM rated medical masks, or equivalent) must be worn in work environments like the Dental Clinic, some lab environments, etc. where a physical distance of 2 metres cannot be maintained.   
  • In these situations, a non-medical mask or face covering (i.e. cloth, etc.) is NOTsufficient PPE to address the risks from an occupational health and safety standard. If you have any questions about the selection and use of appropriate PPE, please consult your unit leader.  

We will be making non-medical masks available, but you are also encouraged to wear your own 

  • To encourage widespread mask usage, Dalhousie is in the process of purchasing a bulk order of reusable non-medical masks to distribute to students, faculty and staff who are currently conducting on-campus activities as part of an approved return to campus plan. Further details on how these masks will be made available will be shared in the near future. It is also recommended that you source masks for personal use given limited quantities.Personnel who do not have a non-medical mask, and whose tasks require them to be present on campus as of July 31, 2020, should discuss alternate options with their immediate supervisor. 

Dalhousie does not have the capacity to enforce complete adherence to this mask directive but rather will pursue ongoing communication around the benefits of masks that when worn properly, they can reduce the risk of transmitting the virus. We kindly ask our community for their support and to also recognize those community members who may not be able to wear a mask due to personal circumstances. Please remember, though, that using a mask alone isn’t enough to prevent the spread of COVID-19. Dal Faculties and departments are still to follow the Return to Campus Safety Guidelines, and all members of our community are encouraged to keep their hands clean, follow cough and sneeze etiquette and physical distancing guidelines, self-screen before travelling to campus, and stay home if they are feeling sick.  

Thank you for your continued diligence in support of Dalhousie’s safety measures to help keep our community healthy and limit the potential spread of COVID-19. We also hope everyone is enjoying their summer and finding time to recharge.  


Frank Harvey, Acting Provost and Vice-President Academic 

Ian Nason, Vice-President Finance and Administration 

Alice Aiken, Vice-President Research and Innovation