By Cait Kemp
Upon the arrival to campus for the new semester, there was a noticeable change among the campus community in terms of masking. No longer were the blue surgical and cloth masks, but the KN95s seemed to be much more popular.
With the spread of Omicron, the CDC recommended KN95 masks due to their higher filtration and protection.
“They use synthetic fibers that act both as mechanical and electrostatic barriers to better prevent tiny particles from getting into your nose or mouth,” said Dr. Elizabeth Morgan, Interim Associate Vice President of Academic Affairs.
According to the CDC, N95 and KN95 masks are categorized as respirators, which are specialized filtering masks. They have the highest protection, and not only keep in oneself’s particles, it protects against letting particles in.
In regards to what type of mask the College wants people to wear, they have looked to the CDC guidelines. They encourage N95 and KN95 masks, as they have the highest protection, and have supplies of those around campus. However, they have not set a rule stating that it is required to wear a specific type of mask, just highly encouraged.
“The College is following the CDC guidance with regard to masks for employees and students,” said Morgan.
“The CDC recommends that people wear a high quality mask that fits you well and that you will wear consistently.”
The masking rules remain the same that the College has seen since last semester. Masking for everyone despite vaccination status is required while indoors (excluding when eating, in one’s own dorm, or by themself in an office/room). Those who are vaccinated can remove their mask outdoors if social distancing is an option, but unvaccinated individuals must keep a mask on outside as well as inside.
“We take masking as one of our multiple steps we take as a College to help mitigate the spread of COVID-19,” said Morgan.
“This also includes vaccination and booster requirements, encouraging social distancing and limiting large social gathering, providing optional weekly surveillance testing, making available rapid testing for anyone with symptoms, and following conservative isolation timing for those affected by COVID-19.”
The conservative isolation timing Morgan referred to is the College’s policy to still hold a 10-day isolation/quarantine upon becoming infected with COVID-19, despite recent CDC policy updates to a 5 day quarantine without symptoms.
Springfield College chose to stick with the 10-day period in order to keep cases low and remain as safe a campus as possible.
If you are in need of a KN95 mask, check out some of the buildings like the library or the Student Union to see if any are available for use. As Morgan said, they are encouraging the use of these higher filtration masks in order to contain the virus and have as normal a semester as possible.
“We recognize that these measures can be burdensome to our students and employees, and consistently monitor the COVID-19 landscape to alter our plans to help bridge our interest in providing the best possible environment for student learning and development as well as maintaining the health and safety of our community,” said Morgan.
Photo Courtesy of Springfield College