Mask Guidance

Following the CDC recommendations for wearing of face masks, UNMC is issuing a new guidance for all faculty, staff and students on UNMC campuses, effective April 14, 2020. Please remember social distancing is the best way to protect your health and the health of those around you. Conservation and proper use of masks is critical for our institution to extend our limited reserves as much as possible.

Please ensure you are familiar with proper donning, doffing, and extended or reuse by watching this short Nebraska Medicine video summarizing this process.

When do I need to wear a mask?

Masks are required for traversing campus (even outside) and campus buildings, as well as for in-person instruction involving close contact and for open office arrangements. Wear a cloth or surgical/procedure mask that covers the mouth and nose at all times while in public spaces (including classrooms, hallways, and other common areas). Masks must be kept on within 6 feet of building entrances/exits, and in heavily-trafficked pedestrian areas such as parking garages and crosswalk.

When is it appropriate to remove my mask?

Individuals with closed private offices or personal spaces may remove their masks when alone in those spaces with the doors closed. In addition, all personnel may remove their masks when outdoors only if they are able to maintain at least 6 feet of social distancing from all other individuals at all times.

How do I aquire a mask?

An initial issue mask will be provided to all faculty, staff, and students. Additional masks may be purchased at the campus bookstore and convenience stores. Procedure masks may also be provided for some instructional activities. 

Faculty supervisors, managers, or administrators can request masks using the UNMC Mask Request Form or by contacting the appropriate representative listed below:

What type of mask should I wear?

At a minimum, the expectation is to wear a cloth mask.

Some individuals, based on the location or the type of work (e.g. BSL-3, A-BSL-3, clinical care, clinical research or specific animal procedures) may require a surgical mask or an N-95 respirator. Based on the work you do, you should follow the mask and personal protective equipment (PPE) standard operating procedures (SOPs) outlined by your research, clinical activity or location. If unsure, contact your supervisor or the area supervisor prior to going the area.

What type of cloth mask should I wear?

The CDC has issued guidelines for sewing a mask you can wear as a face covering. Your cloth mask should:

Should cloth masks be washed or otherwise cleaned regularly? How regularly?

Yes. Ideally cloth masks should be washed each day after use. There is no need to sterilize them. You should assume any mask you wear may contain virus after a day of wear in public, from people around you on the outside, or possibly from you, on the inside.

Whenever a cloth mask is taken off (e.g., when you are eating or working alone in your office) it should be placed away from others (e.g., on a paper towel labeled with your name on your desk). Place the mask so that the part that touches your face is facing up and keep the straps or ties from falling into that clean side.

Discard/replace if any holes appear in it or the shape is distorted so it no longer fits your face.

How does one safely sterilize/clean a cloth face covering?

A washing machine or a sink with any detergent can be used. Wash your hands after placing the mask in the washing machine or sink. Dry masks on high heat.

How do I put on a cloth or surgical mask?

  1. Clean your hands with soap and water or hand sanitizer (with good friction for 20 seconds rubbing fingers, thumbs, and all surfaces), then grasp the mask by the elastic, ear loops, or upper ties, as on some surgical masks.
  2. Place the mask over face:
    • For cloth mask or surgical mask with ear loops: Secure ear loops behind the ears.
    • For surgical mask with ties: Secure upper ties first behind head, then secure lower ties behind head.
    • If mask has a nose piece, press it against your nose to fit it to your face. This will prevent it from moving as you wear it.
    • Make sure you are comfortable in your mask. Limiting the touching or adjusting of the mask while you wear it is important.
  3. Clean your hands again.
  4. Please watch Nebraska Medicine's video for proper donning and doffing of procedural and surgical masks.

How do I safely remove a soft, fabric cloth mask?

  1. Clean your hands.
  2. Remove the mask touching only the straps or ear loops. Take off the mask off and place it on a paper towel, if removing only temporarily, or take it straight to the washing machine or sink with detergent to wash it if done wearing the mask for the day.
  3. It is important that a fabric mask is completely dry before wearing it as its ability to capture particles is diminished when wet.
  4. Discard/replace if any holes appear in it or the shape is distorted so it no longer fits your face.

How do I safely remove a surgical/procedure face mask?

  1. Clean your hands with soap and water or hand sanitizer.
  2. For a mask with ear loops, remove mask holding the ear loops. Assume that the front may be contaminated with virus, so remove the mask slowly and carefully and place with outside down on a paper towel if planning to use again that day.
  3. For mask with ties, untie lower tie first, then untie upper tie last. Assume the frontor outside of the mask is contaminated, so as you remove the mask slowly and carefully, ensure ties do not fall into the interior side of mask.
  4. After removing the facemask, visually inspect for contamination, distortion in shape or form. If soiled, torn, or saturated (e.g., wet), a surgical mask should be discarded.
  5. If the surgical facemask is not visibly soiled, torn, or saturated, you can place the mask, exterior side down, on a paper towel in a place unlikely to be encountered by others, clearly marked with your name.
  6. Clean your hands again.

Who can I call if I have questions about the best mask for me to wear?

Remember that the work that you do may determine the type of mask you should wear.