There will be no escaping masks in the Fall on campus.
UF spent $1.1 million on more than 1.5 million face coverings for the Fall semester, wrote UF spokesperson Steve Orlando. The products range from disposable masks, N95 and cloth masks. The university is planning to provide at least two masks per student and employee, he wrote in an email to The Alligator. It remains unclear how many students are expected to return to campus in person, he added.
UF Student Affairs is responsible for distributing masks to each student, while each department is responsible for providing their employees with them. UF also gave each unit, which includes subdivisions such as the College of Liberal Arts and Sciences or Facilities Services, 20 disposable masks per employee, Orlando wrote.
The masks will be included in a “Gator Care Kit” and will be distributed through Oct. 2. They can be picked up at various sites across campus, including the Reitz Student Union and certain dorm halls, according to the Student Affairs website.
The kit includes an orange drawstring bag with the UF logo, two washable face masks, two packs of wipes, hand sanitizer, a stylus pen, tissues and a first aid kit, she wrote. In order to pick up a kit, students need to have their Gator 1 cards and a mask.
The goal of these kits is to provide students the materials and resources they need to meet UF’s expectations of wearing masks or face coverings in facilities or outside when it is not possible to physically distance themselves from others, she continued.
There will be signs and staff to promote social distancing, and students should wear a mask or face covering when picking up their kits, she wrote.
Students are responsible for picking up their kits, but Tanner wrote that there are enough for every student, and Student Affairs will be communicating with students to remind them to pick theirs up, she wrote.
Masks are available at Gator Dining locations as well, which will provide either a cloth or disposable one, Orlando wrote. The UF Bookstore will also carry disposable masks for sale as well as reusable masks and personal protective equipment like hand wipes and sanitizer. Additionally, the university is working to provide masks in vending machines across campus, he wrote.
Approximately 50,000 N95 masks will be given across campus to those employees with “sustained face-to-face interaction” with the public, including those teaching in-person classes, he wrote.
Julie A. Johnson, dean of the College of Pharmacy, wrote in an email to The Alligator that the department will be receiving about 300 N95 masks to give to its faculty and staff who will be interacting with the public in Fall, despite the fact that they have no faculty or staff who will be in the classroom every day.
Mike Reid, dean of the College of Health & Human Performance, wrote that their masks come in a sealed bag and are sent to the person’s business mailbox to be picked up at their convenience.
The mask distribution initiative is part of UF’s reopening plan for students and faculty to return safely back to campus. UF’s plan was approved on June 23. The plan requires people to wear masks inside of UF’s facilities, including classrooms and libraries, but the plan notes that UF cannot enforce wearing them outside.
Mask mandates have taken effect across the state of Florida, with nearly one third of all Florida counties having some form of mandatory face mask policy, according to Forbes. Alachua County currently requires face coverings in places where social distancing is not possible.
As of Sunday evening, less than one percent of students have tested positive for COVID-19 through UF’s Return to Campus Initiative, according to its website.