Wearing a mask helps protect you and the people around you from getting or spreading COVID-19. A mask helps contain your respiratory droplets and can keep them from reaching other people. Please see UVM’s guidance for face coverings/masks.
Wearing a high-quality mask is one of the precautions you can choose to keep yourself from contracting or spreading the COVID-19 virus. We ask that everyone in our UVM community keep a mask at hand for those times when you want to mask up or those around you ask that you do so. Layering a disposable mask under a cloth mask increases effectiveness.
How do I obtain a Higher Quality Mask?
Members of UVM community are able to get two free KN95 masks at a time. Masks are given out at the Testing Center in the Davis Center.
KN95s are also available online and in many local retailers, including hardware stores. Non-US standards, such as KN95, are difficult to enforce within the US and many counterfeit masks are available; The CDC has published guidance for purchasing respirators from other countries.
Medical procedure/surgical masks are readily available.
What is a KN95?
KN95 masks can reduce the amount of dust or virus particles a person breathes in by approximately 95 percent. The Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) does not consider a KN95 mask a negative-pressure respirator since it has not been certified by the National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health. Therefore, OSHA does not require a person be “fit tested” to wear a KN95. Since a person is not fit tested for a KN95, they should not use a KN95 in situations where a fit-tested N95 mask is required (for example, in clinical areas or for certain medical procedures).
Does UVM allow masks other than KN95s?
In addition to KN95s, a medical procedure mask worn under a cloth face covering (double masking) provides effective protection. You can also wear a well-fitting mask with at least two layers of tightly-woven fabric. The use of NIOSH approved N95 respirators in occupational settings is regulated by OSHA; see the Voluntary Use Section of UVM’s respiratory protection program.
Please remember that masks with exhalation valves are not permitted.
Am I required to wear a KN95 mask at UVM?
Higher quality masks are recommended as part of our comprehensive protection strategy that includes vaccination and vaccine boosters; testing and isolation/quarantine; washing hands; uncrowded spaces and ventilation; and optional use of face coverings.
How do I properly use my KN95?
- Wash or sanitize your hands immediately before putting your KN95 on and immediately after taking it off when planning to reuse it.
- Unfold your mask and flatten the metal nose clip.
- Place the mask over your face, with the bottom below your chin and the nosepiece up.
- If your KN95 has ear loops, place the straps of the mask over each of your ears.
- If your KN95 has over the head straps, pull the bottom strap over the top of your head until the masks hangs around your neck. Then pull the top loop up over so it sits high on the top of your head.
- Adjust the metal nose clip using fingers from both hands to mold the clip to the shape of your nose.
- Adjust fit as necessary to reduce air flow around the mask.
- Facial hair adversely effects the ability of the KN95 to form a tight seal around your face and thus reduces the KN95’s effectiveness at protecting you from COVID-19. Therefore, parts of your face that come in contact with the KN95 should be free of significant facial hair.
- If you wear glasses and find fogging to be a nuisance, wash your lenses with soapy water and shake off the excess before putting on your mask (wipe off nose piece to minimize skin irritation).
How should I care for and store my KN95?
- With proper care, your KN95 can be reused up to 5 times.
- Please DO NOT attempt to wash your KN95. To keep your KN95 clean between uses, store your mask on its own in a dry paper bag. Keep the bag in a secure location where it will not get wet or be subject to direct sunlight or excessive heat.
- Rotate your supply of KN95s. This allows each mask a few days to remain unexposed to new sources of virus for the days and any existing virus to become inactivated.
- A mask should not be worn more than 5 separate days.
When should I discard my KN95?
These masks cannot be reused indefinitely. You should replace your KN95 after wearing it for 5 days, or sooner if it:
- Becomes visible dirty, damaged or exposed to body fluids
- No longer covers the nose and mouth
- Has stretched out or damaged ties or straps
- Cannot stay on the face
- Has holes or tears in the fabric
- And after 5 separate days of use.
A KN95 may be disposed of in the normal trash.
What if my KN95 doesn’t fit?
The MCR brand KN95s that UVM has purchased are universal adult sized. You are welcome to purchase your own KN95 masks. You also may wish to try a KF94 mask, which are the equivalent South Korean masks.