Updated Mask-Wearing Guidance

February 22, 2021

Dear GW Community:

Over the past few weeks, new variations of the COVID-19 virus have emerged and appear to be more rapidly transmissible. These variations also are increasingly being found in the United States and in the D.C. area. At the same time, research is increasingly highlighting the importance of the effective use of masks, as well as social distancing. In response, the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) has issued new guidelines for more effective uses of masks.

The CDC’s guidance includes two key elements to ensuring your mask is working the best it can:

  • Make sure your mask fits snugly against your face. Gaps can let air with respiratory droplets leak in and out around the edges of the mask.
  • Pick a mask with layers to keep your respiratory droplets in and others’ out. A mask with layers will stop more respiratory droplets getting inside your mask or escaping from your mask if you have the virus.

We encourage you to review the CDC’s guidelines, which also includes helpful information about how to improve the fit and tightness of masks and how to ensure that you have enough layers, including possibly using two masks.

In addition to mask-wearing, please continue to adhere to public health guidance around social distancing and limiting gatherings. Per university, District of Columbia, Virginia and Maryland guidelines, public gatherings must be limited to 10 people or less with social distancing and mask wearing. 

Lastly, if you have received the COVID-19 vaccine, you should still continue following CDC’s recommendations to protect yourself and others. Regardless of vaccination status, on-campus cohort members should continue weekly COVID-19 testing and daily symptom monitoring.

We will continue to update you as public health guidance, as well as local and federal guidelines, evolve. 


Stay healthy and safe,

Lynn Goldman
Dean, Milken Institute School of Public Health

Scott Burnotes
Vice President for Safety and Facilities