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Personal Safety Practices: Face Masks/Coverings, Gloves and Goggles/Face Shields

Posted by on Thursday, June 11, 2020 in .


Face masks/coverings (e.g., disposable masks or cloth face coverings) must be worn by all individuals on campus at all times in public indoor settings (e.g., common workspaces, public spaces, hallways, stairwells, elevators, meeting rooms, classrooms, break-rooms, restrooms, etc.). Faculty may opt to wear face shields in lieu of masks/coverings while teaching and while following other classroom protocols. If physical distancing is possible, individuals working in private offices or laboratory environments that do not otherwise require face masks/coverings may remove their face masks/coverings while in such spaces.

Physical distancing must be maintained at all times when outdoors. Face masks/coverings must be worn at all times when outdoors, with the following limited exceptions:

    1. While engaged in vigorous outdoor recreation, such as biking or running, so long as physical distancing is maintained at all times including with those walking on campus paved paths, sidewalks, plazas
    2. While actively engaged in eating/drinking outdoors, so long as physical distancing is maintained
    3. While outdoors and sitting in one spot, so long as physical distancing is maintained

Appropriate use of face masks/coverings is important in minimizing risks to the wearers and those around them according to both CDC and ACHA guidance. You could spread COVID-19 to others even if you do not feel sick. The face mask/covering is not a substitute for physical distancing. This applies to off-site and leased building space, as well as on the main Vanderbilt campus, both indoors and outdoors.

Each faculty member, staff member, postdoc and student will be provided with one cloth face covering. Disposable masks will be provided, if needed. Individuals and departments can contact their assigned building manager or liaison in their college, school or department to acquire cloth face coverings or disposable masks. You also may wear homemade cloth face coverings that adhere to CDC and other public health recommendations. This will help Vanderbilt reduce the need to purchase additional masks, which are in short supply. A disposable mask must not be used for more than one day. See details regarding face mask/covering use and care below.

An individual who is having difficulty wearing a face mask/covering should contact Occupational Health (faculty, staff, postdoc) or Student Health (student) for direction. A faculty member, staff member, or postdoc who cannot wear a face mask/covering because of medical or other reasons should contact the Equal Employment Opportunity office for possible accommodation measures.  Students should contact Student Access Services for possible accommodation measures.

Type and Intended Use of Face Masks/Coverings

TypeCloth Face CoveringDisposable MaskMedical-Grade Surgical MaskN95 Respirator
DescriptionHome-made or commercially manufactured face coverings that are washable and help contain wearer’s respiratory emissionsCommercially manufactured masks help contain wearer’s respiratory emissionsFDA-approved masks to protect the wearer from large droplets and splashes; helps contains wearer’s respiratory emissionsProvide effective respiratory protection from airborne particles and aerosols; helps contain wearer’s respiratory emissions
Intended useRequired for campus community use in all settings (common workspaces, public spaces, hallways, stairwells, elevators, meeting rooms, classrooms, breakrooms, campus outdoor spaces, in restrooms, etc.) Not required when working alone and physical distancing is possible.These masks are reserved for healthcare workers and other approved areas with task-specific hazards determined by OESO.

Use and Care of Face Masks/Coverings

Putting on the face mask/covering

  • Wash hands or use hand sanitizer prior to handling the face mask/covering.
  • Ensure the face mask/covering fits over the nose and under the chin.
  • Situate the face mask/covering properly with nose wire snug against the nose (where applicable).
  • Tie straps behind the head and neck or loop around the ears.
  • Throughout the process: Avoid touching the front of the face mask/covering.

Taking off the face mask/covering

  • Do not touch your eyes, nose or mouth when removing the face mask/covering.
  • When taking off the face mask/covering, loop your finger into the strap and pull the strap away from the ear, or untie the straps.
  • Wash hands immediately after removing.

Disposal of face masks

  • Keep face mask stored in a paper bag when not in use.
  • Disposable face masks must not be used for more than one day and should be placed in a trash receptacle.
  • Dispose of a face mask if it is visibly damaged (e.g., stretched ear loops, torn or punctured materials), dirty or visibly contaminated.

Care, storage and laundering of cloth face coverings

  • Keep face covering stored in a paper bag when not in use.
  • Cloth face coverings may not be used longer than one day at a time and must be washed after use.
  • Disinfecting method: Launder cloth face coverings with regular laundry detergent before first use and after each shift. (Disposable masks are not washable.)

Gloves are not necessary for general use and should not replace good hand hygiene. Washing your hands often with soap and water is considered the best practice for common everyday tasks. Please speak with your supervisor to determine if gloves are necessary.

Goggles/Face Shields

Individuals are not required to wear goggles or face shields as part of general activity on campus. Good hand hygiene and avoiding touching your face are generally sufficient for non-health care environments.