KN95 masks urged for student use by RWU administration


Emily Dvareckas/The Hawks' Herald

The university strongly recommends students use KN95 masks in indoor spaces on campus. Research shows these masks are more effective than clinical or cloth face masks.

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) updated their masking guidance on Jan. 14 which said certain masks provide more protection to the wearer than others. Loosely woven cloth products provide the least protection while layered finely woven products including KN95 masks offer more protection, and well-fitting NIOSH-approved respirators such as N95s provide the highest level of protection according to the CDC.

In light of the research such as the masking guidance from the CDC, Vice President for Student Life for Roger Williams University John King said “the University is urging all students and employees to use KN95 Masks, or other high-quality masks (avoiding whenever possible cloth or clinical masks) in indoor facilities ESPECIALLY IN CLASSROOMS.” in a Jan. 23 email to students.

COVID Prevention Coordinator Kathleen Yorks also credited the university’s recommendation for students to wear KN95s to the CDC’s new guidance. “The research has shown that the N95 or KN95 masks are much more effective against virus transmission.”

Yorks said the price of KN95s is less than N95s which she called the “gold standard” that medical professionals use.

When students arrived for check-in for the Spring 2022 semester, the university gave them three KN95 masks. In the Jan. 23 email, King said students at the end of each day can place each mask in its own sealed paper bag for 48 hours to decontaminate and the masks can be used again.

Junior Lindsey Young said she is glad the university encourages students to wear the KN95s. “I’ve heard a lot of how they protect us more from the variants, so I definitely think it’s a good idea to encourage everybody to wear them, especially to keep us on campus longer.”

Even though she is glad the university encourages the use of KN95s, Young said she prefers the more comfortable feel of cloth masks. “When I want a sip of water or something in class, it’s just easier to pull the cloth mask down because it fits with the shape of your face.”

Senior Mike Roy said he respected the university’s decision to recommend KN95s.

“I think they [the university] are doing their part and trying to make sure we’re as safe as possible,” said Roy. “If it takes an extra measure like that [recommending KN95s] then I guess I kind of respect their decision.”

Yorks said the reason why the KN95 and N95 masks are more effective than cloth masks is because of their design.

“The way they’re designed is they don’t let the small respiratory particles through where cloth masks can much more,” said Yorks. “The KN95s are made to prevent respiratory secretions from getting through them, they stop them as opposed to filtering them somewhat.”

King said KN95 masks will be on sale at Lower Commons, the School of Law Bistro, Hawk’s Nest Coffee Shop and in vending machines in certain buildings.