1. Do KN95 masks meet the “acceptable” face covering requirement at SUNY Poly?
Only in those circumstances when KN95 masks serve as source control for individuals in isolation/quarantine, or returning to campus following these periods are KN95s noted as “acceptable.” The wearing of KN95 masks is allowed. Additionally, consistent with NYSDOH and CDC guidance, the consistent and proper wearing of well-fitting (covering nose and mouth) multi-layered cloth masks, disposable 3-ply and surgical masks, KN95 or equivalent masks, and N95 respirators (if required) meet the approved face covering requirement (when applicable) at SUNY Poly. Gaiters, bandanas, and face shields without an approved mask are not acceptable face coverings. Masks that do not fit properly, or are worn under the nose or mouth, are not acceptable face coverings.
2. What is a KN95 mask?
KN95 masks are designed and constructed in such a way so as to reduce the amount of dust or virus particles a person breathes in or out by approximately 95 percent. These masks are not approved by the FDA or other agency or laboratory in the United States. These masks are designed to meet standards in China.
3. Can I use other kinds of masks instead of KN95?
While KN95s may provide additional protection that many other masks do not, NYSDOH and CDC guidance indicate that a person should wear a mask that is both well-fitting (covers mouth and nose at all times) and one that is comfortable enough to wear all the time when needed. While many face masks help prevent the spread of the virus from the wearer to others, they provide limited protection to the wearer. A KN95 may provide better protection for the wearer than other face masks, while also reducing the spread of the virus from the wearer.
4. How do I obtain a KN95 mask?
Complimentary KN95 masks are being made available to employees and individuals returning from isolation or quarantine while supplies last. SUNY Poly is providing a variety of face coverings to our campus community. Please feel free to provide your own masks. They should meet the generally accepted standards for approved face coverings. Many styles and types of masks are readily available online and in many local retailers. KN95s, while disposable, are designed to be worn multiple times safely. In addition, surgical masks and/or 3-ply disposable masks are available in dispensers in each Administrative and Academic building in Utica, and by visiting the NFE 4th floor President’s suite during regular hours.
SUNY Poly employees, in addition to students returning from isolation or quarantine will be provided these masks for the remainder of the 10-days, and may use the KN95 Request Form to request additional masks. To use the request form, you will need to sign in to the form using your @SUNYPoly.edu / SITNET ID. In addition, students returning from isolation or quarantine will be provided these masks for the remainder of the 10 days from the Wellness Center.
5. Should I use a KN95 instead of a cloth or surgical face mask?
While many face masks help prevent the spread of the virus from the wearer to others, they provide varying and limited protection to the wearer. A KN95 may provide better protection for the wearer than other face masks, while also reducing the spread of the virus from the wearer (source protection). However, as indicated by the New York State Department of Health and CDC, a well-fitting mask that covers both the mouth and nose at all times, with no gaps, and one that will be worn comfortably and consistently by the wearer is better than no mask. Increasing mask efficiencies have been shown to improve from multilayered cloth masks, to surgical masks, to KN95 style masks, to N95 or greater (e.g., N100) masks.
6. How is a KN95 different from an N95?
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).
7. Will SUNY Poly provide employees with N95 masks during the COVID-19 pandemic?
Only those individuals identified as having an occupational exposure to contaminants or particles requiring N95 respirators as a result of their daily or routine job activities (e.g., direct patient care, cleaning/disinfection activities, quarantine & isolation, handling obviously or likely contaminated materials such as laundry or air filters) are provided N95 or similar respirators as required for their protection. Voluntary use of N95 respirators is allowed during pandemic situations involving respiratory disease. However, anyone who uses these devices must be aware of the risks (consult your health care provider if you have health conditions that may be affected by N95 use), and should be provided with the following information as required by OSHA.
8. Why use a KN95 instead of an N95?
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention recommends that N95s be reserved for use by health care providers due to the COVID-19 pandemic. In addition, N95s are required for certain exposure situations, and require mandatory fit testing, medical evaluations, and possible physicals or pulmonary function tests. Use of N95s (provided by the user for general COVID-19 related protection) on a voluntary basis is possible, but all voluntary users must read the following information from OSHA.
9. Should I wear a cloth mask with my KN95?
No, wearing a cloth mask in addition to your KN95 may reduce its effectiveness.
10. Will a KN95 protect me during an exposure to COVID-19?
Any mask, properly worn, may provide some level of protection from exposure to SARS-CoV-2. However, KN95 masks may provide better protection for you and reduce the spread of the virus from someone wearing one. They generally have a higher degree of filtration (in and out) than standard cloth or surgical masks.
11. How do I properly use my KN95?
- 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.
- While touching only the outside of the mask – edges, straps, place the mask over your face, with the bottom below your chin and the nosepiece up.
- Place the straps of the mask over each of your ears.
- 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.
- Certain types of facial hair, like beards, can make mask fitting difficult. Masks that fit well protect you better. To have a better fit, people with beards can shave their beards or trim their beards close to the face.
- If you wear glasses and find fogging to be a nuisance, wash the lenses with soapy water and shake off the excess before putting on your mask (wipe off nose piece to minimize skin irritation).
12. How should I care for and store my KN95
Please DO NOT attempt to wash your KN95. With proper care, your KN95 should be reusable for an extended period of time (reportedly 40 hours of intermittent / non-hazardous clinical use). 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 or mesh bag – or even an open-ended plastic bag work well for storing your KN95.
13. When should I discard my KN95?
You should replace your KN95 when it:
- Becomes soiled
- 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
A KN95 may be disposed of in the normal trash. Wash your hands after removing the mask.
14. Why use a KN95 instead of an N95?
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention recommends that N95s be reserved for use by health care providers due to the COVID-19 pandemic. In addition, N95s are provided by SUNY Poly, only to those who meet the Respiratory Protection Program requirements of exposure to particles or contagions as part of their regular job duties. General/public exposure is not included.
15. What other actions should I take if I wear a KN95?
Even if you wear a KN95, you should still:
- Get the COVID-19 vaccine and booster doses when eligible, 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 serious effects of COVID-19.
- Stay home if you are sick or have symptoms consistent with COVID-19, and call Human Resources.
- Practice physical distancing when feasible.
- Wash your hands frequently for at least 20 seconds with soap and water.
- Avoid touching your eyes, nose, and mouth.
16. Do I need to wear a KN95 mask when teaching?
No. KN95s or other face coverings may be worn while delivering in-person lectures or presentations. Individuals who are at high risk of disease and are not vaccinated should consider wearing the highest efficiency masks possible and that can be worn comfortably. Increased social distancing when possible is also encouraged.
17. What if my KN95 doesn’t fit?
The KN95s SUNY Poly purchased for distribution 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-made masks.