FAQs About KN95 Masks

KN95 masks reduce the amount of dust or virus particles a person breathes in by approximately 95%.

Given the high transmissibility of the Omicron coronavirus variant, UD requires a properly worn well-fitted mask, with specific recommendation of a surgical mask or KN95 mask worn in accordance with mask instructions. Mask-wearing is mandatory for everyone in indoor spaces, including laboratories and classrooms. Effective until further notice, masks must be worn by any individual speaking from a podium in classroom settings, a significant change over our prior classroom masking requirement. In residence halls, mask-wearing is mandatory in all spaces except individual rooms with the door closed.

Outdoors, all individuals, both vaccinated and unvaccinated, should wear a mask if they cannot maintain physical distancing of at least 3 feet from others.

Please note that masks with valves are not permitted.

The University will provide initial KN95 masks to each person through the Environmental Health and Safety Department. Students living in the residence halls will receive the masks through their residence halls. Students living off-campus can pick up masks at the distribution points listed below. On-campus employees will receive the masks through their departments. Individuals are free to wear masks they have procured as well. They are readily available online and in many local retailers. KN95 masks, while disposable, are designed to be worn multiple times safely; they can be used for a week before disposal, unless they are damaged or soiled.

Distribution points for off-campus students:

  • Morris Library
  • Carpenter Sports Building
  • Perkins Student Center
  • Trabant University Center
  • STAR Health Science Complex

  • If possible, wash or sanitize your hands immediately before and after putting your KN95 on and immediately before and 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.
  • Place the straps of the mask over each ear.
  • 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 edges of the mask.
  • Significant facial hair (more than 3-days growth) adversely affects 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.
  • KN95s should not be worn in a lab setting with a potential for a fire hazard or work with pyrophorics. EHS has flame-retardant fabric masks available for those who work with these materials. If you wear a flame-retardant lab coat, you should be wearing a flame-retardant mask as well.
  • If you wear glasses and find fogging to be a nuisance, ensure you have a proper seal at the nosepiece. You can also wash your lenses with soapy water and shake off the excess before putting on your mask (wipe off nose piece to minimize skin irritation).

A KN95 mask provides better protection for you and reduces the spread of the virus from someone wearing one. You are less likely to develop COVID-19 after close contact with someone who tested positive when wearing a KN95 compared to a cloth or surgical mask. However, a proper fit for whatever mask you choose is most important. The mask should fit you snugly (without being too tight), so there are no gaps around the edges.

  • No, wearing another mask in addition to your KN95 reduces its effectiveness.
  • If you are not able to wear a KN95 mask, UD recommends double-masking with a surgical mask underneath a 2-ply or 3-ply cloth mask.

If you are exposed to the virus while wearing a KN95, you are less likely to develop COVID-19.

The Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) does not consider most KN95 masks negative-pressure respirators since they have not been certified in the U.S. 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).

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention recommends that N95s be reserved for use by health care providers due to the COVID-19 pandemic.

Even if you wear a KN95, you should still:

  • Get the COVID-19 vaccine and a booster if you have not already done so. The vaccine is the best way to protect yourself and your family, friends, classmates, and co-workers from COVID-19.
  • Stay home if you are sick or have symptoms consistent with COVID-19.
  • Practice physical distancing when feasible, especially indoors.
  • Wash your hands frequently for at least 20 seconds with soap and water.
  • Avoid touching your eyes, nose, and mouth.

  • The KN95s that UD purchased for distribution are universal adult sized. You are welcome to purchase your own KN95 masks.
  • If you are not able to wear a KN95, UD recommends double-masking with a surgical mask underneath a 2-ply or 3-ply cloth mask.

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention recommends that N95s be reserved for use by health care providers due to the COVID-19 pandemic.

  • Please DO NOT attempt to wash your KN95. With proper care, your KN95 should be reusable for an extended period of time.
  • To keep your KN95 clean between uses, store your mask in a safe location that other people cannot access and where it will not get wet or be subject to direct sunlight or excessive heat. A dry paper bag works well for storing your KN95.

You should replace your KN95 when it:

  • Becomes soiled.
  • No longer covers the nose and mouth.
  • Has stretched out or has damaged ties or straps.
  • Cannot stay on the face.
  • Has holes or tears in the fabric.

KN95 masks may have manufacture dates. Disposable masks, including the surgical masks and KN95s generally have a shelf-life from 2 to 3 years. This can be impacted by how you store them; for example, high heat and humidity exposure may degrade them faster than storage in moderate temperatures. All the masks the University is providing have been warranted from the supplier and meet the GB2626-2006 standard for filtering effectiveness. We have inspected the masks received and have found no evidence of deterioration of the masks and no evidence of them exceeding recommended shelf life. Whenever you put on a mask, be it fabric, disposable surgical, or KN95, always check the condition of it first; look for any holes or tears in the filtering media and make sure the straps are in good condition.

Everyone is required to wear a mask while in a laboratory. If you work with flammables, flame-retardant masks are available from UD Environmental Health and Safety. The KN95 mask issued by the University is not flame retardant and should NOT be worn near any flammables. Multiple-ply cotton masks should be worn in a laboratory. Keep in mind that any mask, including the KN95s, will not protect you from chemical exposures in the lab.

EXCEPTIONS: Wearing a face covering is not required when a person is eating, drinking for a BRIEF period of time. Wearing a face covering is not required when a person is inside an office as long as they are by themselves.