THE University of Newcastle has "strongly encouraged" students to wear masks at Callaghan campus, which is also a testing clinic.
UON told staff and students in a message on Monday "it's most important" they stay home and get tested if unwell, practice social distancing and use good cough and hand hygiene.
"However, when social distancing is hard, the fourth line of defence is a mask," it said.
"Masks may provide some advantage, and particularly act as a barrier should you be infected."
There are no confirmed cases at UON.
UON's message - which also said anyone at Hotel Jesmond, Wallsend Diggers or Lambton Park Hotel during specific periods last week should isolate and get tested - said staff may bring and use a mask at any time, including in classrooms.
It said students are "strongly encouraged, but not required" to use masks, especially if at risk or in enclosed areas where social distancing is difficult, including on public transport and "in some class settings such as labs, where students need to move around".
"Students are required to use masks where they have been informed there is a professional/accreditation requirement... while students are typically required to provide their own mask, anyone who occasionally forgets can collect a disposable mask from Student Hubs or a library."
It said staff and students could also request a disposable mask if they are a close contact of someone awaiting test results; have returned in the last 14 days from an area of increased testing and surveillance; or if staff are defined as at risk.
National Tertiary Education Union Newcastle branch president Dan Conway said the union welcomed the move, after being "concerned for weeks" about management's approach to health, safety and wellbeing.
"No where is this highlighted more than the previous direction to 'not wear face masks in front of students as it would be detrimental to the student experience'," he said.
"We continue to be concerned over the rush back to campus at such a critical time... when it appears to be at odds with government advice."
University of Newcastle Students' Association president Luka Harrison said UNSA is recommending all students wear masks where appropriate and there is advice to do so.
"UNSA is happy to see that the university has made masks available to students in some situations," he said.
"We will hopefully explore possibilities relating to greater accessibility to masks in the coming few days.
"Not as many students have taken to wearing masks as we'd like, but we are hopeful that as word spreads, more students will make the right decision and start wearing masks."
There were 626 tests at the UON clinic on Monday the day it expanded from three to four lanes - and around 800 on Tuesday.
UON's message said staff or students who were at the three venues at the same time as the confirmed case should email them so UON "can provide you with the necessary support and advice during this period".
It said anyone who attended the venues after the specific time is of low risk, does not need to isolate and can come onto campus.
"NSW Health advises that anyone who has been in contact with those now in isolation should not be concerned," the message said.
"The risk is low and if this situation changes, we will message staff immediately.
"However, anyone who visited the venue after the infected individual was present, or has been in contact with an individual in isolation should, over the coming days, be alert and look out for symptoms. Get tested immediately if you develop any symptoms, even if mild.
"We appreciate those who visited the venues after the specific times or has been in contact with an individual in isolation may wish to be especially cautious. Thus, to provide additional reassurance we can provide masks for staff in this category to use."
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