Non-medical masks at UBC

As part of UBC’s commitment to the health and safety of our community, and the responsibility we all share in preventing the potential for COVID-19, students, faculty, staff and visitors are required to follow UBC’s COVID-19 Campus Rules when on our campuses. These rules include the requirement to wear non-medical masks in common indoor spaces.

Common indoor spaces include hallways, stairways, building entryways, washrooms, common areas in residences and other high-traffic areas (except as set out in an approved areas).

The requirement to wear non-medical masks indoors recognizes that transmission is reduced when face masks are worn in conjunction with physical distancing and other safety practices. For more information, including details about exceptions, please refer to the COVID-19 Campus Rules and FAQs below.

How to wear a non-medical mask

Cleaning non-medical masks

Homemade or cloth masks should be cleaned and changed often.

  • To clean a homemade cloth mask, wash it using the directions on the original material (for example, if the mask was made from t-shirt material, follow the washing instructions on the t-shirt tag) but in general, warmer water is better.
  • Dry the mask completely (in the dryer using a warm/hot setting if possible).
  • Do not shake dirty masks to minimize spreading germs and particles through the air. If dirty cloth masks have been in contact with someone who is sick they can still be washed with other people’s laundry.
  • Any damage, fabric break down, or change in fit will reduce the already limited protection of cloth masks.
  • Store soiled masks appropriately (in a container or paper bag) until they can be cleaned to avoid secondary contamination of other surfaces.
  • More information about masks can be found on the British Columbia Centre for Disease Control website.

Considerations when wearing a mask

  • Make sure you know how to wear your mask. Follow manufacturers or industry specifications and directions.
  • Don’t wear masks below the nose or chin. This can increase the risk of exposure.
  • Keep your mask clean and dry.
  • Change masks as necessary. You may need several masks available as they become soiled. If your mask becomes wet, soiled or damaged, replace it immediately.
  • Make sure you know how to clean your mask. Wash cloth masks every day using the warmest water setting. Store in a clean, dry place to prevent contamination. Disposable masks cannot be laundered.
  • Practice good hygiene even if you’re wearing a mask. Don’t remove your mask to cough or sneeze. After coughing or sneezing, wash your hands. Don’t touch your eyes, nose or mouth.

Other considerations when wearing a mask can be found online at WorkSafeBC.

Mask FAQS

These FAQs attempt to summarize information.  To the extent there is any conflict between the information in this FAQ and the COVID-19 Campus Rules, or a COVID-19 Safe Work Plan, the Campus Rules or Safe Work Plan will take precedence.

Indoor mask requirement

Do I need to wear a mask indoors at UBC?
All students, faculty, staff and visitors are required to wear non-medical masks (defined within the COVID-19 Campus Rules) in common indoor spaces on our campuses.

What is an appropriate mask?

Please see the section of this FAQ below.

Who is covered by the requirement to wear a non-medical mask?

All campus users in common indoor spaces are required to wear a non-medical masks including students, faculty, staff, contractors, service providers and visitors.

How long will the requirement to wear a non-medical mask be in place?
This policy will be in place until further notice. We are constantly reviewing our policies and will make changes as required.

How will the non-medical mask requirement be enforced?
We are providing a two-week grace period between September 16 and September 30 to allow everyone to acclimate to the mask policy. After this period enforcement measures will focus primarily on an educational approach and enforcement will depend on the individual’s relationship with the university, the nature of an incident, the place in which it occurred, and the impact on others in that place.

Will there be any penalties for non-compliance with the non-medical mask requirement?
Failure to comply with this policy and the other COVID-19 Campus Rules could result (depending on your relationship to UBC) in disciplinary action, or being restricted from UBC property, as outlined in the COVID-19 Campus Rules.

Do COVID-19 Safe Work Plans need to be updated to reflect the required use of non-medical masks?
Yes, some changes will be required to local safe work plans to reflect this requirement and to specify approved exceptions. Contact the owner of your COVID-19 Safe Work Plan (Department Head, Managing Director, etc.) for more information.

Exceptions

Are there any exceptions to the requirement for use of non-medical masks (e.g. medical, disability or certain activities)?
Certain activities and individuals, including individuals with a medical condition or disability that inhibits their ability to wear a mask, are exempt from this policy. Please refer to Attachment A in the COVID-19 Campus Rules for the full list of exceptions.

How does the non-medical mask requirement affect my use of other Personal Protective Equipment (PPE) (e.g. face shield/respirator)?
PPE requirements as outlined in existing COVID-19 Safe Work Plans and Safe Working Procedures take precedence over the non-medical mask requirements. If a medical mask interferes with the proper functioning of work required PPE, a mask should not be worn.

Does the non-medical mask requirement apply to contractors working on campus?
Contractors should seek direction from their UBC contact regarding the application of the COVID-19 Campus Rules to their specific work site. In certain secure work sites, masks may not be required provided all other provincial requirements are followed. Contractors inside a UBC building must wear non-medical masks in common/shared spaces including hallways, entrances, bathrooms and food service areas.

If I wear a niqab or burqa do I still need to wear a mask?
If you wear a religious garment made of fitted fabric that covers the nose and mouth, you do not have to wear an additional mask or face covering.

Masks

Will UBC be providing non-medical masks?

  • Faculty/staff – All faculty and staff working on campus will be provided with non-medical masks by their portfolio/Faculty.
  • Students – Students living in residence, or attending in-person classes on campus will be provided with one branded non-medical masks by their Residence Advisor or Faculty.
  • Visitors – Contractors, service providers and other visitors are required to provide their own non-medical masks.

What other types of face covering are acceptable?
The minimum acceptable standards for non-medical masks are outlined in the COVID-19 Campus Rules as follows:  An appropriate mask must have two layers of tightly woven fabric (cotton or linen), or be a commercially produced disposable non-medical mask, and securely fit, without gaping, over the nose and mouth with ties or ear loops. For more information on acceptable masks please see the British Columbia Centre for Disease Control website.

Does wearing a plastic face shield alone comply with this policy?
Some plastic face shield may have an equivalent level of protection. When outlined and approved within the Parent Plans and Safe Work Plans, plastic face shields may be used. A face shield may be used as an alternate measure for those who cannot wear non-medical masks, for health, safety or communication reasons. A well fitted face shield should wrap around the face and cover from at least eyebrows to chin.

Can I make my own mask?
Yes. Provided it meets the minimum acceptable standards outlined in the COVID-19 Campus Rules. You can find more information about how to make an appropriate homemade mask and the limitations associated with them from the Government of Canada.

What is the standard/guideline for purchasing non-medical masks?
UBC recommends using disposable commercially available non-medical masks until a supply of high-quality sustainable cloth masks is sourced and can be distributed on campus.  Consistent with UBC’s commitment to sustainability, community members are encouraged to consider eco-friendly options.

How do I clean my mask?
Manufacturer’s guidance for mask cleaning should be followed. Additional guidance can be found above or at BCCDC. Once soiled ensure your mask is stored appropriately until it can be cleaned. A clean container or paper bag is a good option to prevent cross contamination with other items. Disposable non-medical masks can not be laundered.

Affected areas/locations

Do I need to wear a mask in shared office space?
Non-medical masks are required in shared office space, unless otherwise stated in your approved COVID-19 Parent  or Safe Work Plan. Please note: COVID-19 Parent and Safe Work Plans will require approved updates to reflect this policy.

Do I need to wear a mask in my personal office?

Non-medical masks are not required when working in a sole occupant office or enclosed room.

Do I need to wear a mask in my personal work cubicle?

Non-medical masks are required in your personal work cubicle, unless otherwise stated in your approved COVID-19 Parent or Safe Work Plan. Provided other conditions are met (such as physical distancing rules), it is likely that a mask will not be required while seated at your personal work cubicle.  Please note COVID-19 Parent or Safe Work Plans will require approved updates to reflect this policy.

Do I need to wear a mask if I am the only person working in a building/worksite?
Non-medical masks are not required if you are the only person working in a building/worksite.

Does the non-medical mask requirement apply to indoor spaces on campus that are not owned or operated by UBC?

When in buildings that are not owned or operated by UBC you should follow local safety guidance.

If my workplace is located in a hospital or healthcare facility, am I required to wear a non-medical mask?

UBC units located in hospital and health care facilities should confirm with their UBC Department Head whether or not the UBC COVID-19 Campus Rules apply in their workplace.

Can I take my mask off for eating and drinking?

Masks may be removed when consuming food or beverages while seated in designated dining areas within UBC dining facilities.

In what areas of a student residence building does the non-medical mask requirement apply?

COVID-19 residence rules for the Vancouver campus can be found here.
COVID-19 residence rules for the Okanagan campus can be found here.