U of T to distribute 250,000 non-medical masks to community members

In an effort to support community members, the University of Toronto will distribute a quarter million non-medical face masks to students, staff, faculty and librarians – two each – starting with essential workers on campus.

Students will be able to pick up their masks at the T-Card office, student dorms and libraries, among other places – even free, T-Card-operated vending machines are being considered for contactless distribution. Masks will be available for pick up at some locations as of Aug. 24. Further details are available at U of T’s UTogether site.

Staff, faculty and librarians, meantime, will receive instructions from chief administrative officers about how to obtain their masks.

The reusable two-layer masks, made of polyester, are machine washable and were selected in part for their durability and comfort. They are intended to supplement the homemade and store-bought masks many U of T community members have been using since the pandemic began.

“As we welcome students, staff, faculty and librarians back to campus this fall, we want to ensure everyone has reusable and high-quality non-medical masks at their disposal so we can all do our part to prevent the spread of the coronavirus,” said Scott Mabury, U of T’s vice-president, operations and real estate partnerships.

Public health experts have emphasized the importance of non-medical face masks to reduce the spread of respiratory droplets that may carry the virus causing COVID-19.

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The reusable two-layer masks, intended to supplement the homemade and store-bought masks many U of T community members are already using, were selected because of their durability and comfort (photo by Johnny Guatto) 

U of T community members are urged to pick up their masks at their convenience.

“Don’t make an unnecessary trip to campus to collect your masks,” Mabury said, noting that U of T is pursuing a gradual and safe return to operations.

The plan to distribute non-medical face masks to community members comes as U of T officially expanded its on-campus mask measures to cover all common-use indoor spaces on university property, including classrooms and common areas in residences.

Read U of T’s updated mask policy here

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Staff unload boxes of reuseable, non-medical masks that will be distributed to the U of T community (photo by Johnny Guatto)

“While many students, staff, faculty and librarians will continue to work remotely, U of T has updated its mask-wearing policy following the latest public health advice to further protect the health and safety of community members who will be on campus,” said Cheryl Regehr, U of T’s vice-president and provost.

“In addition to physical distancing and proper hand hygiene, wearing a mask in indoor common spaces is a component of our toolkit when it comes to limiting the spread of COVID-19.”

U of T’s mask policy mirrors similar moves by the City of Toronto and City of Mississauga.

Under the U of T policy, anyone present on university property – including employees, students, contractors, volunteers and visitors – must wear a non-medical mask that covers their nose, mouth and chin without gapping. Other examples of acceptable face-coverings include balaclavas, bandanas or scarves.

The policy is subject to the duty to accommodate persons in accordance with the Human Rights Code of Ontario.

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