Mask requirements

EFFECTIVE UNTIL JUNE 30, 2022

All faculty, staff, students, visitors and contractors will be required to wear approved masks in all indoor spaces on USask campuses in Saskatoon, Regina and Prince Albert. Masks are also expected for off-campus work and learning activities including student placements, research and USask events.

USask will continue to keep a close watch on USask case numbers and service disruptions, variant emergence, wastewater viral load, and public health data and recommendations to determine the level of health and safety measures necessary to keep the campus and broader community safe. When we see evidence of sustained on-campus spread of COVID-19 has declined, in combination with a decrease in COVID-19 activity in the community, we will reassess our indoor masking requirement.

Approved masks include:
  • single-use 3-ply-nonmedical-and-medical
  • N95, KN95s
  • double masking with a cloth mask over single-use 3-ply.
Indoor spaces include:
  • Hallways, lobbies, washrooms and elevators
  • Libraries
  • Classrooms
  • Laboratories - laboratory mask use
  • Meeting spaces
  • Study spaces
  • Recreation facilities
  • Shared offices - masks may be removed in private work offices when the individual is the lone occupant of the space but if someone enters the office, you must don your mask. 
  • Residence -masks must be worn in all common and designated areas outside of private living space.
  • And all other indoor USask spaces (see below for exceptions)

Supporting the 4Rs for masking adherence


 Remind the individual that masking is mandatory;

 Request that they don a 3-ply disposable mask;

 Remove yourself respectfully from the situation. It is not recommended that you engage in debate or conversation as this may result in lengthy engagement with an unmasked person or lead to negative interactions; or

 Report using one of the following options:
For student issues: report any recurring scenarios or situations with the Report a Hazard tool (can be used confidentially);
For workplace issues: report the incident to the appropriate people leader or use the Report a Hazard tool as a confidential option. 


Employees are not obligated to address adherence to the USask mask protocol but rather are encouraged to address safety concerns when observed and/or report issues they observe so that non-adherence trends can be identified and addressed by Safety Resources.

Single-use masks

Re-using single-use masks

Single-use masks, as they are named, are made for single-use. Yet, with proper care, and if the mask is not contaminated, degraded, or soiled, these masks can be reused throughout a day of work or study as you take it off for eating, to utilize your private office, to follow laboratory protocols, or in other appropriate circumstances.

Please remember the following when reusing any mask:
  • perform hand hygiene before and after donning and doffing a mask;
  • before and after use, inspect for any contamination, tears, rips, holes, elastic/straps ripped/stretched, and other damage;
  • do not reuse a mask that is damaged
  • do not share masks
If a single-use mask needs to be stored between uses, do so in the following manner:
  • perform hand hygiene before and after donning and doffing a mask.
  • avoid touching the front of the mask as that is where the majority of virus particles would be
  • masks should be stored for reuse in a clean, breathable, labeled container or bag; 
  • if using a reusable container or bag for storage, ensure it is disposed of or cleaned daily;
  • store masks so that they do not touch the masks of others.

Double-masking

If you find that your single-use mask fits poorly, double-masking can be a valuable tool in ensuring your mask fits snugly against your face. Double-masking includes a single-use mask as the first layer against the face and cloth mask overtop as the outside layer. Double-masking, as described by the Centre for Disease Control, is not required at USask. 

Lab Use

When working in a laboratory, it is recommended to have a dedicated mask for laboratory work. Do not wear your “lab mask” outside of the laboratory. See COVID-19 Guidelines: Face masks in Laboratories for more information.

Exceptions

There are some exceptions to mandatory face masks—children under 2 years of age, those who cannot don or doff a mask, individuals requiring a medical exception—but in general, it is expected that all university community members, as well as visitors, will follow this requirement.

Why USask has mandatory masking

While the Government of Saskatchewan is easing its mandatory mask mandate, USask's masking guidelines will remain in place until further notice. These guidelines are reviewed regularly and any changes will be communicated with the campus community.

The requirement for wearing 3-ply single-use masks in all indoor spaces is an additional step to ensuring our campuses are as safe as possible as we expand in-person and on-campus operations. Non-medical masks are able to provide an enhanced level of protection with a balance of cost, comfort, and environmental impact. Medical-grade masks can be used but are not required (outside of the medical field) as the higher level of fluid impermeability designed for medical procedures is not-required for most USask processes.

Availability

All 3-ply, singe use, non-medical masks issued by USask Stores are acceptable. Masks that meet the requirements are available for your department/unit through a local University Store or ppesales.usask.ca

Faculty, staff and students can purchase masks through the Facilities Store (with a CFOAPAL), Shop usask, or at many non-university retailers.

N95 masks

With the highly contagious Omicron variant now rapidly circulating through the community, the best mask protection available is an N95 (or equivalent) mask/respirator. We have been sourcing these masks in anticipation of this scenario, and a supply of N95 masks will be available for any faculty and staff member for use while on campus.

If you will be teaching or working in person on campus, orders for N95s can be made at ppesales.usask.ca. This is not a mandatory measure but is being offered to those faculty and staff who wish to wear an N95 mask while on campus.  

The University continues to require all staff, students, faculty and visitors on campus to wear a single-use 3-ply mask in all indoor spaces. A good-fitting 3-ply mask is still effective when an N95 mask isn’t available or chosen not to be used. Double masking, using a cloth mask as an outer layer, can help improve the fit of a 3-ply mask. Do not combine two disposable masks.

N95 (or equivalent masks) with valves are not approved and are not to be worn on USask campuses.

Like other types of PPE utilized throughout the pandemic, it is typically the department or unit who is responsible for funding any voluntary use programs.

For those faculty and staff who will be working on campus during the Winter term a supply of N95 masks (masks or respirators) will be available for purchase by units and departments in small quantities. N95 masks help protect the wearer while still providing some protection to those around. N95 masks with valves are not approved.

The average person typically will use one N95 mask per day, however, this may vary based on location and type of work being completed. To ensure a safe level of inventory is maintained, USask recommends departments and units purchase N95 masks on a weekly basis. N95 masks can be reused.

Mask Rotation

A set of four or five N95 masks can be reused each week by rotating masks each day and allowing them to dry for long enough that the virus is no longer viable (>72 hours). Masks should be hung to dry in a low traffic area, or kept in a clean, breathable container like a paper bag between uses. Make sure masks do not touch each other and do not share masks. Before each use remember to inspect and perform a user seal check. Masks should be discarded when they are contaminated, managed or it becomes hard to breathe through them.

USask will have masks available for departments and units to purchase through their local stores through ppesales.usask.ca.

N95 masks will not be supplied to students but students are encouraged to utilize their own supply.

N95 masks with valves are not approved and are not to be worn on USask campuses. KN95s (available at Costco) are acceptable, but will not be provided by USask.

Based on PHAC (Public Health Agency of Canada) guidelines, a respirator worn in the community for protection against COVID-19 does not require a fit test. Fit testing will not be provided by USask for this purpose at this time. However, following the proper donning, doffing, and seal check procedures can help in place of a fit.

If a respirator is being utilized for a specific occupational hazard (not community transmission of COVID-19) in your workplace, fit testing is required.

If you are a USask faculty member, researcher, student, or staff member who needs to arrange a quantitative respirator fit test, please provide the following information by email to fittest@usask.ca.

  • Your name and NSID
  • Your supervisor’s name
  • A brief explanation of why you require a fit test

N95 masks can be reused so long as they continue to fit properly, the user continues to breathe easily through them, and they are not soiled/contaminated or damaged.

Steps to reuse a N95 mask:
  • Before donning and after doffing, inspect the N95 mask for contamination, tears, holes, stretched/ripped elastic straps or any other damage;
  • Perform hand hygiene prior to and after donning/doffing the N95 respirator, and any time the respirator is adjusted;
  • Restrict touching the surface of the filtration piece and instead hold the mask by the straps;
  • Perform a seal check to ensure that the mask continues to fit tightly;
  • Masks can be stored for reuse in a clean, breathable, labeled container or bag, or hung by the straps in a dust-free low, traffic location until the next
Discard the N95 mask if:
  • It becomes difficult to breathe through; and/or
  • If it becomes contaminated, has tears, holes, or the elastic/straps are ripped/stretched or has any other damage.
Like a lab coat, masks used in a laboratory must never be worn outside the lab.

How to don (put on) an N95 masks

There are different styles of N95 respirators as depicted below.

Molded Cup N95 Mask
Molded Cup
Duckbill Mask
Duckbill
flat fold mask
Flat-Fold
v-fold mask
V-fold

Regardless of the type of mask, a properly fitting mask is crucial to limiting the spread of COVID-19.

  • Perform hand hygiene
  • Cup the mask and bring it to your face.
  • The mask should sit center on the bridge of your nose. Most masks will seal best when they are high on the bridge of the nose and fit snuggly to the sides of the face.
  • Adjust the straps so they are secure behind your head or ears.
  • Without touching your face or eyes, use two fingers from each hand to gently mold the metal bar around the bridge of your nose. Do not pinch as this can compromise the seal.
Facial hair will impact the effectiveness of an N95 mask. To obtain the benefits these masks provide we recommend all users be clean-shaven.

How to complete a User Seal Check

Perform a seal check by placing hands above and below the mask, without touching your face or eyes, and either exhale gently or inhale sharply. If you feel air escaping or coming into your mask you may need to move the mask up/down or adjust the straps. Perform another seal check and adjust until you cannot feel air moving in or out of the masks from the sides.

  • A successful seal, is when the mask is slightly pressurized when exhaling and slightly collapses when inhaling.
  • If you cannot obtain a seal from an N95 mask a 3-ply mask will provide you with acceptable protection.
Anyone wearing an N95/CN95 mask should conduct a seal check each time they put on their mask.

How to doff (take off) an N95 mask

  • Perform hand hygiene;
  • Bend forward slightly and carefully remove the mask from your face by touching the ties or elastic bands; and
  • Start with the bottom band or tie, then remove the top.

How to store an N95 mask

  • Perform hand hygiene before and after donning and doffing a mask;
  • Masks should be stored for reuse in a clean, breathable, labeled container or bag, or hung in a low traffic area;
  • If using a reusable container or bag for storage, ensure it is disposed of or cleaned daily; and
  • Store masks so that they do not touch the masks of others.

Disposal and Recycling

Disposable mask recycling stations have been set up across campus to minimize the environmental impact of using 3-ply single-use masks, keeping them out of the landfill. 

Approved

Uncontaminated single-use masks including:
  • Medical and non-medical masks
  • Dust masks
  • KN95
  • N95

Prohibited

Other PPE, including:
  • Gloves
  • Hair Nets
  • Lab Coats or Garments
  • Cloth Masks
  • Medical Waste, including items contaminated with blood or bodily fluids.
  • Administration Building
  • Agriculture Building
  • Archeology Building
  • Arts Building
  • Collaborative Science Research Building
  • Dental Clinic
  • Diefenbaker Centre
  • Education Building
  • Edwards School of Business Building
  • Engineering Building
  • Geology Building
  • Gordon Oakes Red Bear Centre
  • Health Science E-Wing
  • Health Sciences
  • John Mitchell Building
  • Kirk Hall
  • Law Building
  • Marquis Hall
  • McLean Hall
  • Murray Library
  • Peter MacKinnon Building
  • Physical Activity Complex
  • Physics Building
  • Place Riel
  • Qu' Appelle Hall Addition
  • Research Annex
  • Saskatchewan Hall
  • Spinks Addition
  • Thorvaldson Building
  • Toxicology Centre
  • University Services Building
  • Veterinary Medicine Animal Hospital
  • Veterinary Medicine Building
  • Williams Building

Purchasing PPE

Personal Protective Equipment (PPE) including gloves, masks, glasses, protective headwear, protective clothing, cleaning supplies, and disinfectant is available to purchase through university stores. To ensure a safe level on inventory is maintained, orders should only be placed when you are approved to safely resume work on campus. The supply chain for PPE continues to be under significant strain globally, however, an inventory of PPE is being maintained at the following locations:

  • ppesales.usask.ca
  • Health Sciences Supply Centre
  • Chemistry Stores (in-person only)
  • Veterinary Medicine Clinic (in-person only) *The WCVM Loading Dock will be closed from Dec. 21 to Jan. 1
  • Dentistry Stores (in-person only)
  • AgBio Stores (in-person only)

Please purchase what you need and not stockpile inventory of PPE. Due to a large amount of counterfeit PPE items available online we ask that you continue to purchase items through the campus store locations where you historically shop. 

Plexiglass Barriers

Plexiglass barriers are a mitigation strategy that provides a barrier between people and to help minimize the spread of respiratory droplets when individuals are in close contact and cannot physically distance. They do no protect people from aerosol transmission of COVID-19 which is recognized as the predominant route of infection.

Limitations of Plexiglass Barriers

Barriers can provide a false sense of security. It is important to remember that barriers are only part of a multi-layered mitigation strategy and should be used in combination with other USask COVID-19 preventative measures.

When in-person interactions cannot be avoided, barriers can provide a physical separation between people to support physical distancing efforts. However, they are not always appropriate and do have limitations (including but not limited to):

  • barriers do not provide a zero-risk solution, aerosol transmission can still occur when barriers are in place
  • barriers do not replace the need to physically distance when possible
  • barriers are not feasible or appropriate in all workspaces and work activities
  • plexiglass barriers are not recommended for laboratory settings

If barriers are not designed or installed properly for the specific work environment, barriers may obstruct or interfere with the airflow in the space which could have a negative impact to COVID-19 prevent and thus, the opposite effect intended.

The installation and use of a barrier must not obstruct pathways and cannot impede access or egress, especially in the event of an emergency.

Barriers should be freestanding or installed with double-sided tape or clamps. Avoid physically mounting to walls or office in such a way as to cause permanent damage when barriers are removed.

Freestanding barriers must be stable to ensure they will not fall.

Do not mount barriers to ceiling or ceiling grid.

Allow a space of at least 24” between top of barrier and ceiling.

  • Barriers cannot inhibit fire detection and sprinkler systems
  • Impact to space ventilation should be minimized

Local occupant cleaning protocols must include the disinfection of barriers. This service is not provided by Facilities.

Follow manufacturer instructions for the installation, cleaning, and use of the barrier. Ensure that the cleaning process will not cause damage or cause degradation of the barrier.

Enterprise Procurement has provided the following vendor options for procurement of barriers and installation service.

Vendor Details of Service Contact
WD Plastics, Saskatoon Offers in-stock 24” or 30” wide free-standing guards. USask receives 20% off the retail price for an average cost of $50 per barrier. Todd Hudson
Tel: 306-934-6844
Email: Todd@wdplastics.com
Web: www.wdplastics.com
Aero Glass, Saskatoon Can provide free-standing barriers in 2-3 days. Average cost: $140 for 20”x30” $260 for 40”x30” Aero Glass
Tel: 306-244-1888
Email: aeroglass@sasktel.net
Web: aeroglass.ca
Uline Countertop and hanging barriers. Overnight shipping common. Prices vary by size and design Web: www.uline.ca/BL_3176/Safety-Shields
Koncept Sign Group, Saskatoon Contact for a quote. Average lead time is 14-18 business days. Koncept Sign Group
Tel: 306-242-7100
Web: www.konceptsigngroup.com

Support Available for USask

Safety Resources is available for workplace assessments regarding COVID-19 prevention or any other occupational health and safety concerns. Please contact safetyresources@usask.ca with questions.

Although they will not be providing procurement or installation service, if there are questions or concerns regarding the installation of barriers, contact Facilities at facilities.support@usask.ca.