With the return to campus, easing of provincial restrictions and the changing details surrounding the Omicron variant of COVID-19, wearing a mask properly is very important.
Dalhousie University recently updated its masking guidelines on its COVID-19 information and updates page. The new guidelines are more in-line with Health Canada’s newest information surrounding proper masking techniques.
Medical masks, such as N95 or KN95 masks, are still recommended, but when it comes to cloth masks, both homemade and store-bought, there is now a stronger emphasis on it having three layers of protection.
Sanja Stanojevic, a respiratory epidemiologist and assistant professor at the Dalhousie department of community health and epidemiology, said three-ply masks are more likely to catch COVID-19 particulates. According to Health Canada, a thicker mask offers more filtration preventing “respiratory particles” from escaping.
Stanojevic also stresses the importance of following all guidelines in conjunction with proper masking, “vaccination, wearing masks, reducing our contacts, physical distancing and reducing capacity in places are all important. All of those things together work to protect the community and to protect individuals.”
Stanojevic said, “I think it’s important that we recognize that it’s really our actions that help us collectively move forward and move beyond this pandemic.”
It’s also important that a mask covers your entire face. “I hate seeing people not covering their nose,” said Hà Vu, a first-year student in engineering at Dalhousie University.
Since Dalhousie released its new policy on masking, Vu has switched from cloth masks to three-ply masks. “Obviously, I support it. I don’t think anyone enjoys masking, but it is what it is. You have to just follow the rules in order to stay safe and to keep your community safe.”
Cameron Fraser is in their second year at Dal in arts and social sciences. “Sure, the occasional mask will be a little itchy, in the summer it was a little annoying, but these are minor grievances.”
“It sometimes helps if you make sure that the mask is fully over your chin and also crimped at the nose,” said Fraser. This lines up with the information on the Dal website, which recommends wearing a cloth mask over the three-ply mask if it does not fit properly or if a cloth mask doesn’t have three layers of fabric.
Medical masks and some three-ply cloth masks are available for students at the services desks of the Registrar’s Office, the info desk in the Student Union Building, the Dalplex front desk, all library service counters, the International Centre and residence front desks.