As the omicron variant of COVID-19 continues to spread rapidly through our community, CU Boulder is taking steps to protect campus affiliates as we return to an in-person learning experience.
Beginning Friday, Jan. 21, students, faculty and staff may pick up N95 or KN95 masks at the reception desks (unless otherwise noted) at the University Memorial Center (UMC), Center for Community (C4C), Student Recreation Center, and Center for Academic Success and Engagement (CASE), as well as at the Sustainability, Energy and Environment Community (SEEC) loading dock area (look for directional signs). Masks may be picked up at these locations between 10 a.m. and 3 p.m. on weekdays.
The current Boulder County Public Health recommendations include wearing a snugly fit surgical mask, N95 or KN95 when possible, though cloth masks that comply with Centers for Disease Control and Prevention mask guidance meet campus requirements and county requirements for indoor mask compliance. Bandanas, gaiters and similar single-layer masks do not comply with current county mask requirements.
The university is still providing surgical masks in most buildings that can be worn underneath cloth masks. In addition to campus mask distribution, the state of Colorado is also providing free KN95 masks to the public.
N95 and KN95 masks are made from five layers of filters, which block up to 95% of harmful airborne particles from entering the nose and mouth. They offer a high level of protection, filtering out both large and small particles, but they must be worn properly to be effective:
- Find the best fit for your face. Fit differs for everyone, so you may need to try different mask types to find the best fit.
- Ensure a snug fit. Your mask should seal to the surface of your skin and fully cover your face––across the cheekbones, nose bridge and chin.
- Make sure there are no gaps between your face and your mask, where respiratory droplets could get through.
- Check out resources, such as the CDC video on how to don an N95 mask.
N95 and KN95 masks can be reused with proper management and storage:
- Store masks in an appropriate place (for example, in a paper bag) for at least 24 hours before reuse.
- Discard masks if parts become damaged, proper fit becomes compromised, or they become soiled.
In an effort to minimize the risk of COVID-19 transmission through the air, CU Boulder continues to employ heating, ventilation and air conditioning measures in our buildings that maximize airflow, filtration and outdoor air. Masks provide additional protection in alignment with published CDC guidance.
Remember: The best way to protect yourself and those around you against serious illness from COVID-19 is through vaccination, and boosters are now required on campus.