Since in-person classes started six weeks ago, wearing a face mask has become an essential part of student, faculty and staff members’ daily routine.
While the practice may seem simple, wearing a mask for long stretches of time presents some situations — like eating or socializing outdoors — that can be tricky to navigate.
To help Huskers stay safe and healthy throughout the remainder of the semester, Dr. Heather Eberspacher, medical director of the University Health Center, sat down to answer some frequently-asked questions on face coverings.
How do I eat safely?
Sitting down for a meal or snack is one of the only times in the day when removing your face mask is absolutely necessary. However, there are a few ways to do so without endangering yourself or others.
First, Eberspacher recommends taking food to-go and finding an outdoor spot to eat. If you have to eat indoors, keep your face mask on right up until you start eating and put it on as soon as you’re done. Additionally, when eating with a group of people, make sure to sit 6 feet apart.
Do I need to wear a face mask outside?
As part of university policy, wearing a mask is required outdoors when 6 feet of distance cannot be continuously maintained. Eberspacher says a general rule of thumb is to wear a face covering while walking shoulder-to-shoulder outside with others, or passing through crowded campus sidewalks and common areas.
Should I wear a face mask in the restroom?
Since flushing public toilets can potentially release particles like COVID-19 into the air, it’s important to keep your face mask on over your mouth and nose while in the restroom. It’s especially key to wash your hands with soap and warm water for 20 seconds before leaving.
How often should I wash my face mask?
Because virus particles can sit on the outside of your mask, Eberspacher recommends washing your face mask once a day (or as regularly as possible) to avoid infecting yourself. While throwing it in the washing machine is an option, it’s oftentimes much more convenient to soak it in hot water and soap in a sink. The mask can then be put in the dryer on the highest heat setting, or laid out to dry for the next day.
Do I need to wear a face mask even if I don’t feel sick?
Yes. Even if you don’t have any COVID-19 symptoms, such as a cough, fever or loss of taste and smell, you can still spread the virus without knowing it. Wearing a face mask consistently and properly will help protect not only you, but those around you.