Masking Requirement

The following guidance was issued in a University Notification on January 7, 2022.

Masking remains a key and effective mitigation strategy in our efforts to minimize transmission during this virulent phase of the virus. Beginning January 10, all members of the Penn community in campus buildings will be required to double mask (layering a cloth mask on top of a disposable mask) or to wear a KN95/KF94 or N95 respirator. Penn will also increase the availability of masks across campus.

Masks are made to contain droplets and particles you breathe, cough, or sneeze out. Masks primarily protect others and if they fit closely to the face, they can also provide you some protection from particles spread by others, including the virus that causes COVID-19.

Respirators are made to protect you by filtering the air and fitting closely on the face to filter out particles, including the virus that causes COVID-19. Because respirators filter virus they must be handled and stored properly or you could contaminate your hands (see storage below).  Respirators also protect others by containing droplets and particles you breathe, cough, or sneeze out so you do not spread them to others. 

Recommended Masks & Respirators from the January 7, 2022 announcement for University Buildings.  Please note that some Schools, Centers and Penn Healthcare Facilities may have different guidance.  Please follow local guidance at all times.

Double Mask with cloth face covering over surgical mask

Cloth face coverings may be worn only when double masked with either a disposable surgical mask or an ASTM F2100 rated mask. The mask closest to your face must be a non-medical grade surgical-style or ASTM F2100 rated procedure mask. 

The cloth face covering worn over a surgical-style mask, may be a Penn-branded cotton cloth face covering or any home-made or purchased face covering. See Maximizing Fit for Cloth and Medical Procedure Masks to Improve Performance and Reduce SARS-CoV-2 Transmission and Exposure

Do not wear masks, face coverings or double masks if you have difficulty breathing.  If you cannot wear, or safely wear, a mask or face covering, please seek accommodations https://oaaeop.upenn.edu/accessibility/accommodations.

Note: Procedure masks have finite number of reuses. Masks must be replaced when wet, soiled, or damaged (e.g., is ripped, has holes, or has broken ear loops or straps) or no longer fits tightly.

Obtaining Masks: Surgical masks are readily available in the Penn Marketplace through EMSCO-Fisher (Supplier #610895).  When ordering, please be sure to specify “ASTM-1” within the product description.  Penn will also be maintaining a substantial central inventory of surgical masks as we have through the pandemic.  If you are in emergency need of masks and wish to access central inventory, please utilize an EHRS emergency mask request using a web form.  Mask distribution will begin as soon as masks arrive on campus.  The Penn Bookstore has both surgical masks and Aries ASTM 3502 tested masks (which may be used in the interim) available for sale.

Recommended cloth masks remain available and sourcing guidance can be found at the Procurement Services website.

Masks and general PPE continue to have fluid market environments.  If your School/Center/Department is having any issues obtaining any PPE, please contact Mike Talley (mgtalley@upenn.edu) for assistance.  For general information on obtaining any Covid-related supplies, please refer to Penn’s Covid-19 PPE sourcing guidance on the Procurement Services website.  

KN95 or KF94 Mask 

KN95/KF94 masks are designed and tested to meet international standards and are not regulated as respirators by OSHA and NIOSH.  KN masks will provide more filtration than a surgical mask only if the mask properly fits your face.  An ill-fitting KN/KF mask may be less effective than a surgical mask. NIOSH has determined that up to 60% of KN95 do not meet NIOSH standards.  Purchase KN95/KF94 face coverings from a Penn approved vendor to avoid purchasing a counterfeit mask.   Choose the correct size mask.  Do not double-mask with a cloth face covering.  Doing so may make it uncomfortable to breathe.

Note: Masks have finite number of reuses. Masks must be replaced when wet, soiled, or damaged (e.g., is ripped, has holes, or has broken ear loops or straps) or no longer fits tightly.

Obtaining KN95/KF94 Masks:  KN95/KF94 masks can be purchased in the Penn Marketplace through Penn’s preferred contract suppliers, including EMSCO-Fisher. 

Masks and general PPE continue to have fluid market environments.  If your School/Center/Department is having any issues obtaining any PPE, please contact Mike Talley (mgtalley@upenn.edu) for assistance.  For general information on obtaining any Covid-related supplies, please refer to Penn’s Covid-19 PPE sourcing guidance on the Procurement Services website.  

N95 Respirators

Voluntary Use of N95 Respirators for Additional COVID-19 Protection

Information and Mandatory Document

Voluntary use of N95 respirators is allowed at Penn during the COVID-19 pandemic and does not require fit testing. Penn offers fit testing for N95 respirators for employees working in a clinical setting where it is required, (i.e. the dental school, and student health services).  The use of N95 respirators with an exhalation valve is not allowed.

Please note that an unfitted or improperly worn N95 respirator may reduce its intended benefit.  Please see this link.  To ensure an adequate fit of an N95 watch this video from 3M on how to put it on correctly and how to perform a user seal check.  

Required Documentation for the Use of N95 Respirators (link).

The voluntary use of N95 respirators falls under OSHA’s Respiratory Protection Standard (29 CFR 1910.134). Under the OSHA standard employees must read and sign Appendix D to Sec. 1910.134 (Mandatory) Information for Employees Using Respirators When Not Required Under the Standard to confirm they know how to safely use an N95.  Documentation (link above) will be kept electronically by EHRS.  EHRS will contact you if your N95 is not approved by NIOSH or has an exhalation valve.  If you have any questions regarding the information provided, contact EHRS at 215-898-4453.

Important Health Information:

A properly fitting respirator will provide significant breathing resistance.  Not everyone is physically able to wear a N95 respirator for a prolonged time.  Any employee who previously had a medical evaluation and was determined to not be medically fit to wear a respirator must not wear an N95 respirator unless they are re-evaluated and medically cleared to use a respirator. Employees with asthma or other respiratory impairments should speak to a healthcare practitioner before wearing an N95.

Any employee that experiences any medical signs or symptoms (e.g., shortness of breath, coughing, wheezing, chest pain, any other symptoms related to lung problems, cardiovascular symptoms) while wearing a respirator must discontinue use.

Obtaining N95 respirators:  N95 respirators are not only expensive, but also must be individually fit-tested to offer their expected levels of protection.  If you are wearing them voluntarily you must follow all of the instructions provided in Appendix D (above) to obtain the best level of protection. This alternative is therefore not recommended for routine masking.  Penn does not have sourcing guidance at this time.

 

 

Revised 1/20/22 -added mandatory N95 voluntary use form Appendix D 

Issued 1/10/22

Revised 1/12/22 - added mini respirator standard requirements

Revised 1/13/22- Guidance on Mask Procurement

Revised 1/14/22 Added CDC science brief on mask effectiveness and emergency supply form

Revised 1/18/22 CDC revised guidance on N95 and clarity on Mask used for source control vs respirators used for personal protection.