Face masks are required when riding public transportation and in healthcare and COVID-19 testing facilities. In other settings, the choice to wear a face mask is a personal one, and no one should be made to feel uncomfortable because of their choice. It is well established that wearing a mask while indoors reduces the risk of contracting or spreading COVID-19. Individuals who are concerned about the risk of infection are encouraged to continue to wear a mask, and we ask that all members of our community support and respect one another’s masking choices. Vaccination remains the best protection against serious illness and we urge those who have not yet been vaccinated or boosted to do so.
Approved masks include masks with any of the following certifications: ASTM (procedure or surgical), KN95, FFP2, KF94 or NIOSH N95. Cloth masks are not approved unless worn in conjunction with an ASTM medical mask.
Observe these additional precautions when in spaces and circumstances that require masks::
- Minimize your time unmasked
- Minimize unmasked conversations
- If in groups, minimize the group size
Frequently Asked Questions
Where can I pick up a high-quality mask?
Masks are available for all Cornell community members from any COVID-19 testing site. Current on-site stock is limited – take only what is needed to get yourself through the week.
Departments and units can pick up mask supplies at the Cornell Recycling Facility at 251 Solidago Rd. from 8 a.m. to 3:30 p.m. Monday through Friday. Pre-ordering is not required.
Can masks be re-used?
Disposable masks may be re-used. When a mask is no longer tight-fitting, wet, soiled, damaged, or if it has been used while in contact with someone with COVID-19, it should be changed for a new mask. A tight-fitting mask should always form a tight seal around the nose and mouth.
What are the differences between masks? (i.e., both the material and the fit)
The most important element of masking is that the mask is tight fitting, and worn properly around the mouth and nose to limit the potential spread of aerosols.
- ASTM masks, also known as procedure or surgical masks are disposable masks that create a physical barrier between the mouth and nose of the wearer and potential contaminants in the immediate environment. Medical masks are manufactured to meet the American Society of Testing and Materials (ASTM) standards and come in three grades.
- KN95s, KF94s, FFP2 and N95s are electrostatic non-woven polypropylene fiber masks meant to form a tight seal over the mouth and nose. Both KN95s and N95s are rated to capture 95% of tiny particles (0.3-micron particles). FFP2, and KF94s capture 94% of 0.3-micron particles. Do not double mask when using an N95, KN95, KF94 or FFP2 as this will affect the seal of the mask around the nose and throat.
- N95 are manufactured to meet US NIOSH certification requirements Employees who voluntarily use an N95 must complete EHS2386 Respirator Voluntary Use Sign Off on CULearn.
- KN95 are manufactured to meet China filtering face mask certification requirements
- KF94 are manufactured to meet South Korea filtering face mask certification requirements.
- FFP2 are manufactured to meet European Union filtering face mask certification requirements.
- Cloth Face Coverings do not meet or have any performance standard and therefore are not as effective as other mask options. They are not designed to form a well-fitted seal around the nose and mouth.
Is there any benefit of double masking with an approved, certified mask, such as a N95?
Do not double mask with multiple KF94, KN95, KFF2 or N95 respirator. Doing so may negatively impact the fit of the filtering facepiece mask reducing the effectiveness of the mask.
Healthcare workers have procedures to wear double masks to keep their N95 clean, which is acceptable for healthcare workers. In those situations, the N95 is worn below the surgical mask.
What are acceptable alternatives for those who cannot wear a Medical, KF94, KN95, N95, or double mask due to allergies, medical condition or facial surgery?
Faculty and staff who are in need of a medical accommodation may submit an ADA Reasonable Accommodation request by contacting Medical Leaves Administration at email@example.com or calling (607) 255-1177. More information and forms are available on the Human Resources website.