AMHERST, MA (WGGB/WSHM)—UMass announced new masking guidance Friday, on the heels of their first employee passing away from COVID-19.
The university said that cloth masks are not effective in limiting the spread of the omicron variant and everyone needs to have a KN95 or N95 mask for in-person learning.
UMass Amherst announced this week that the coronavirus took one of their own. They told Western mass news in a statement in part:
We learned that a UMass Amherst employee died as the result of COVID-19. This is the first time that an active employee has died from COVI-19 since the start of the pandemic.
Now, the university is updating its mask policy. changing what type of masks students, facility, and staff must wear in the classroom.
Here are the changes - KN95, KF94, N95, or double-masking only. The university says cloth masks are not effective alone. and if worn, should be doubled up with a surgical mask underneath.
We asked students what they thought.
“I think it’s a really good idea. I don’t think cloth masks are very effective,” said Rachel Bond, a UMass grad student.
Bond has a KN95 mask herself. We wanted to know her thoughts on the difference between masks.
“I think there’s been a lot of studies of the amount of particles that get produced from cloth masks versus this kind,” said Bond.
Other students are concerned about how they’re going to afford enough n95 masks for the spring semester.
“I went on Amazon to see and a 25 pack was $50. But actually, a 50 pack of this was $10,” said Brianna Harden, a UMass Senior.
Harnden believed the school should provide N95 masks. This is all happening as some colleges are planning remote starts for the school year.
Starting Jan. 18, Westfield State will be remote the first four days of the semester. Starting Jan. 24, classes at Smith College will be remote for the first week, while Mt. Holyoke will be remote for the first two weeks of their semester.
We asked UMass Amherst if they will consider remote learning to start the spring semester and were told classes will start in person as scheduled.