Union Where You Are: Plans for 2020-21

Double Masking and Vaccines

Publication Date

Dear Union College Community:

Wearing a mask is a key method to reducing the spread of infection. Masks work by both reducing the amount of respiratory droplets and aerosols that are exhaled by infected wearers, and by protecting others from being exposed to these particles.

The type of material is important, and the quality of fit is essential. There are also enhancements that you can make to your mask to make it even more protective. In addition to other independent studies, CDC recently showed that wearing a cloth mask over a medical procedure mask (disposable mask) improves the fit, making it 92.5% protective – more than double the level of protection of either mask alone.

Choose a mask based upon the setting you will be in and the potential level of exposure. A cloth mask or disposable mask may be acceptable outdoors, especially if you are able to maintain a safe distance from others.

However, if you will be in an indoor gathering or using a shared method of transportation, or if your occupation causes you to have frequent interaction with members of the public, a higher level of protection is warranted.

Based on this emerging research and recommendations from the CDC, Union has revised its policy for masks in the following manner, effective immediately:

Students:

  • Students are strongly encouraged to double mask with a cloth mask over a disposable mask when in all interior public spaces on campus and outdoors when six feet of social distancing cannot be maintained.

  • In classrooms, students are also strongly encouraged to double mask, even if social distancing exceeds six feet.

  • In certain situations, students will be required to double mask where close contact with others cannot be prevented, and when using transportation to events sponsored by the College.

  • Students with medical conditions that may make double masking difficult can contact Health Services to review possible accommodations.

Employees:

  • Employees in certain departments (dining services, bookstore, mailroom, campus safety, testing center, and health services) whose job either makes it difficult to maintain six feet of distance from others or who have contact with many other individuals over the course of their shift, are required to double mask with a cloth mask over a disposable mask while at work.

  • In classrooms, instructors are also strongly encouraged to double mask, even if social distancing exceeds six feet.

  • Employees with medical conditions that may make double masking difficult can contact Human Resources to review possible accommodations.

  • Employees may request additional guidance pertaining to their individual role or workspaces.

Masks are not required when an individual is alone in their residence hall room with the door closed, alone in their private office with the door closed, or when outside with at least a six-foot distance from others. If a residence hall room is shared by 2 students, they are not required to wear masks in their room, but the door must be closed.

Masks must continue to meet CDC guidelines: The mouth and nose must be fully covered and the covering must fit snugly against the sides of the face with no gaps.

Union is providing a supply of disposable surgical masks to all students and employees at the Testing Center. Individuals are responsible for regularly cleaning and maintaining their own cloth masks.

MASK DISTRIBUTION

  • One 50 ct. box of disposable masks will be distributed to members of the Union On-Campus Community.

  • Effect Monday, March 1, the following areas will receive their boxes from their supervisor: dining services, bookstore, mailroom, campus safety, testing center, and health services

  • All other employees and students will receive their disposable mask box at their weekly test appointment beginning March 8.

  • Approximately 8 weeks later, the Testing Center staff will repeat this process, if students or employees need an additional supply of masks.

KN95 masks that are authorized by the FDA: Appendix A: Authorized Imported, Non-NIOSH Approved Respirators Manufactured in China are an acceptable substitute for double masking. Employees and students who wish to wear a KN95 mask instead of double masking as described above can purchase their own FDA-authorized KN95 masks.

Vaccines:

Union College is strongly encouraging all eligible members of our community to be vaccinated. To determine your eligibility please visit the am I eligible app or call 1-833-697-4829. As a reminder, please hold onto your vaccination documentation as you may be required to provide it at a future date.

Once vaccinated, individuals are required to continue following all health and safety protocols on campus, including testing, as it is not yet clear whether vaccines are effective at preventing transmission of the virus.

For more information on the COVID-19 vaccine please visit, COVID-19 Vaccine: Safe, Effective, Free

Please contact ehs@union.edu if you have any questions or comments. Thank you for following this policy as an additional measure to protect ourselves and our community against the COVID-19 virus.

Best regards,

Liz
Elizabeth M. Dobson-Davis, CCHO
Director of EHS