September 3, 2021
INDOORS: Amherst College requires face masks to be worn on campus in all indoor spaces, with the exception of when alone in private personal offices or in one's own residence hall room. Either a KN95 mask or doubled (two masks on top of one another) disposable, pleated, filter face masks must be worn at all times in classrooms and other academic spaces that are operating at 100% capacity. The CDC recommends that the mask completely cover your nose and mouth and fit tightly against your face without gaps.
OUTDOORS: Although masks are not required outdoors, everyone is required to have a mask on hand. We encourage everyone to share with one another their masking preferences when they are interacting outdoors without six feet of physical distance and to respect one another’s wishes. As always, anyone who feels more comfortable wearing masks outdoors should do so.
Anyone identified as a close contact of someone who has tested positive for COVID-19 must be masked indoors and out because of the increased risk of spread.
Anyone who experiences symptoms that may be COVID-19-related and/or comes down with a cold, flu, or other respiratory illness, should wear a mask in all settings and contact their health care provider. We urge any staff or faculty who feel ill to stay at home and not come to work; students who feel ill should contact the Health Center.
Where to Get Masks
- Disposable, pleated filter and KN95 face masks are available to students, faculty, and staff who are living or working on campus.
- Faculty, staff, and students can pick up masks at the following locations:
- Service Center in the Services building (Monday-Friday 7 a.m.-3:30 p.m.)
- Commissary at Schwemm’s in Keefe Campus Center (daily 3 p.m. until Midnight)
- Campus Post Office
- Departments looking to acquire masks should contact the Amherst College Service Center at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Types of Masks
- KN95 masks afford a higher level of filtration and protection than the standard-issue, pleated filter masks. Faculty and staff who determine with their supervisor, and/or with input from Director of Health and Safety Rick Mears, that their role involves direct interaction with individuals requiring isolation (e.g., health services) will be provided with National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health (NIOSH)-rated N95 masks.
- The College-provided disposable, pleated, filter masks are designed to the technical standard T/CTCA7-2019. They are constructed of polypropylene pleated filter media having a filtration effect of >95% for 3.0 micron particles. The central filter media layer is 25 gsm polypropylene melt-blown filter fabric. These masks have been demonstrated to be more effective at reducing the spread of droplets than many other face coverings, such as cloth masks, whether homemade or commercially purchased.
- Cloth masks may be worn when layered with a disposable, pleated, filter face mask.
- Cloth bandanas, neck gaiters and homemade masks are not allowed because studies show that they are not as effective.
- Masks should not have exhalation valves, as they defeat the purpose of the mask. Masks with one-way valves or vents allow air to be exhaled through a hole in the material. This type of mask does not prevent the person wearing it from transmitting COVID-19 to others.
- Individual departments and other groups are prohibited from buying masks for their own distribution. Such purchases are restricted under Amherst’s discretionary spending policy.
Caring for Masks
- College-provided masks can be worn multiple times, depending on use. Replace your College-issued mask when it becomes dirty, damp, wet, or difficult to breath through (e.g., due to dust or pollen).
- College-issued masks should not be sanitized or bleached, but rather discarded when they become dirty or wet.
- When not being worn, masks should be folded in half along the folds so that the inner surface of the mask touches only the inner surface—and not the outer surface—during storage. The folded mask can be stored between uses in a clean, sealable, paper bag or breathable container.