Free N95 masks available at COVID-19 test centers, 15 campus locations

Media Credit: Grace Hromin | Senior Photo Editor

In-person classes began Tuesday after the University started the spring semester with a week of remote learning.

Free N95 masks are now available to all students, faculty and staff across campus, officials announced in an email Friday.

GW community members can pick up their N95 masks at the University’s COVID-19 testing centers and 15 other spots on campus like the University Student Center, Gelman Library, District House and the Smith Center. Officials said they encourage everyone to wear N95 masks, which will protect them from aerosol transmission of the coronavirus, especially while indoors.

Other campus locations with available N95 masks include the Milken Institute School of Public Health, School of Media and Public Affairs, Science and Engineering, Lerner and Ross halls, Graduate School of Education and Human Development dean’s office and Elliott School of International Affairs, according to GW’s website. Students can also pick up masks at the GW Police Department’s Community Policing Center, the Key Depot, the Mount Vernon Campus Academic Building and on GW’s shuttles.

“The University strongly recommends that you wear a N95 or KN95 mask in classrooms and all indoor University spaces,” the email reads. “If you do not wear an N95 mask, double masking with a cloth and surgical mask is recommended.”

In-person classes began Tuesday after the University started the spring semester with a week of remote learning. Daily COVID-19 cases reached a record high on Jan. 6 as students returned to campus.

Officials said no face covering provides “100 percent protection,” but the N95 mask is more effective at protecting people from the virus than single-layer masks or double masking. Public health experts are also encouraging the use of N95 masks, which filter up to 95 percent of the particles in the air compared to the 75 percent that cloth masks filter.

Officials said students should pick up one mask at a time.

GW community members should remove their N95 mask with clean hands, unfold the mask and pull the bands outward on both ends and position the mask with the metal strip facing up on the nose, according to the email. Officials said students should lightly press the metal strip to make sure they securely seal the mask so that it “fits snugly.”

Students can view an instructional tutorial on how to apply their N95 masks, according to the email.

The email states the N95 masks should not replace other N95 masks or respirators required for fit-testing in occupational settings.

Officials said the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention has additional information on facial hairstyles that are preferable for N95 masks.

“Facial hair may create a poor seal and can reduce the effectiveness of an N95 mask,” the email states. “It is recommended that there is no facial hair in areas where the mask contacts the face.”

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