Safety testing equipment

COVID-19 Facilities FAQs

Find answers to some of the most common questions about University Facilities response to COVID-19 below.

VentilationPersonal Protective Equipment General SafetyFace Coverings

Frequently Asked Questions


What COVID 19 related guidelines are utilized to determine best practices for HVAC?

Montclair State University is utilizing COVID 19 related guidelines developed by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) and American Society of Heating, Refrigerating and Air-Conditioning Engineers (ASHRAE) to inform HVAC-related measures on campus.

How is air quality being improved in the buildings on campus?
Depending on the ability and capacity of the air handlers servicing a building, improved ventilation can be achieved by increasing the MERV rating of the filters,  increasing the amount of outdoor air brought into the building, increasing fan speed to achieve more air changes per hour or a combination of some or all of these.

Tell us about the HVAC systems on campus. Is there filtration? How much outside air is brought in? How often is air exchanged throughout the day?
The University has upgraded the air filters to MERV 13 filters. These are changed according to a regular schedule, or sooner if the differential pressure across the filter gets too high.

Our HVAC systems bring in a minimum of 33% outside air. In addition, the entire air supply in a building is turned over at least 6 times per hour.

The air handling systems in CELS were constructed to bring in 100% outside air. This is also the case for labs and classrooms in Science Hall. The rest of our buildings have systems similar to most commercial buildings. All of our buildings have good ventilation, thanks to the high proportion of outside air we can use and the frequent turnover rates. And our HVAC systems were designed to serve a much larger number of people than are currently using our buildings.

In addition to the standard manufacturer-recommended maintenance University Facilities performs on our air-handling equipment, we are further cleaning the coils in these units on a regular, recurring schedule.

I don’t hear the air moving in my building – what does that mean?
That’s nothing to worry about. Air is flowing, but you may not hear it because the systems in some buildings, like the Library and Memorial Auditorium, were designed to be ultra quiet. These systems use oversized ducting so that patrons are not bothered by noise.

What is being done in areas where there may be more respiratory droplets in the air?
In indoor areas like the Music and Dance studios, where there may be a higher level of respiratory droplets due to the kinds of activities that take place there, we have installed additional filtration systems that use ultraviolet light to kill microorganisms in the air. These systems are in addition to the MERV 13 filters, frequent air turnover and importing of outside air.

What about Overlook? How is its ventilation?
The Overlook Corporate Center follows a similar protocol regarding ventilation. They are also using MERV 13 filters. The Overlook HVAC systems exchange the entire building air about 6 to 8 times an hour, and during the fall they are bringing in 25% to 30% outside air.

How do I report ventilation concerns in my classroom or office?
Contact the Environmental Health and Safety Office with concerns regarding air quality issues at

Mechanical issues, such as a broken thermostat can be entered as a work order into Maximo or contact the Facilities Service Desk (FSD). They can be reached by phone at 973-655-5444, or by email at

Personal Protective Equipment

What do I have to do to be able to wear a filtering facepiece respirators (N95)? 

For employees, tight fitting filtering facepiece respirators, otherwise known as N95’s, are regulated by OSHA under the Respiratory Protection Standard (29 CFR 1910.134) due to health and safety concerns. If an employee who is not in the Respiratory Protection Program would like to be able to wear an N95 respirator, they should contact to discuss further.

I have a medical issue and I can’t wear a face covering, what can I wear instead ? 

Employees that would like to discuss alternatives to wearing a face covering due to a medical issue should contact HR/Benefits at

Students that would like to discuss alternatives to wearing a face covering due to medical issues should contact the Disability Resource Center. 

General Safety

What is the University doing to reduce the risk of spreading the virus that causes COVID-19? 

University Facilities will procure and distribute cleaning products and personal protective equipment (PPE), in accordance with CDC guidelines and will help ensure that all members of the campus community are well-informed about facilities use and enlisted in helping to keep campus spaces clean.

What extra steps is the University putting in place for cleaning and disinfection? 

Housekeeping staff will prioritize work activities to focus on disinfecting high-touch surfaces,cleaning common areas, and ensuring that hand sanitizer stations, restrooms and hand washing stations are operable, well maintained, and well-stocked. Non-housekeeping employees will be provided with the necessary materials to sanitize their personal work spaces, including instructions for the safe and proper use of these products.

Should I dry my hands using a paper towel or an air dryer?

The Centers for Disease Control and the World Health Organization say that both paper towels and air dryers are effective ways to dry your hands. Because germs spread more easily on wet or damp hands, it’s important to thoroughly wash your hands and dry them completely. The method you use to dry them does not matter.

On campus, many of our restrooms use hygienic Dyson Airblade air dryers, which use HEPA filters and high-pressure air to dry hands in 10-14 seconds, scraping the water from the hands like a windshield wiper. According to Dyson, the HEPA filter can remove 99.97% of bacteria and virus particles from the air intake before blowing their air onto the hands, and the Airblade uses up to 80% less energy than conventional hand dryers. There are plans to replace other hand-dryer models on campus with Dyson Airblade in the future.

University Facilities has also provided hand sanitizer at each restroom entrance so you can also sanitize your hands before you enter or on your way out, after washing and drying your hands, if you have any concerns.

If you have a concern about a specific restroom, please contact the Service Desk (973-655-5444) or submit a work order at

Face Coverings

Why do we have to wear face coverings on campus?
Due to studies that show that a significant portion of infected individuals lack symptoms (either asymptomatic or pre-symptomatic) and can still transmit the virus, the CDC recommends that people wear face coverings in public settings.   A face covering is a well secured paper or cloth that covers your nose and mouth, and prevents droplets, splashes, sprays from being spread by the person wearing them.

When do I have to wear a face covering?
You can read the University’s Policy on Face Masks and Face Coverings here. This policy was updated on August 12, 2021 and may be revised as circumstances change or new information becomes available.

What face coverings are acceptable to wear?
There are a variety of acceptable face coverings:

  • Commercially made or homemade multi-layer cloth face coverings (reusable)
  • Multi-layer disposable masks that cover the nose and mouth
  • Disposable dust mask

What face covering is unacceptable to wear?

  • Face masks with an exhalation valve, these permit respiratory droplets to reach others
  • Face shields worn alone without a face covering
  • Single layer face coverings

Face coverings are not a replacement for physical distancing, hand hygiene and other public health measures.  Face coverings are not PPE, they protect others from the wearer.