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Face Coverings and Masks

Face coverings are strongly recommended indoors, and required in some locations

illustration of person wearing a face covering
Face Covering Requirements

Face coverings are strongly recommended indoors, and all are welcome to wear them. Some requirements remain for specific settings. 

See detailed face covering requirements for campus

  • Can I require someone to wear a mask when meeting with me? Can my department require universal indoor masking?
  • No. Campus policy aligns with both county and state guidelines for a “strong recommendation” to wear a mask indoors. Because there is no public health requirement and because campus policy does not maintain a requirement after March 19, you may not require others to wear a mask.

    Additionally, you may not ask someone to wear a mask. Instead, we are aligning with public health policy and Yolo County Public Health orders which acknowledge the right to an individual choice for when to wear a mask. To the extent an individual has personal circumstances requiring a higher degree of protection, we encourage them to follow the Yolo County Public Health recommendations regarding the benefits of one-way masking.

N95-style masks as optional upgrade on campus 

In January 2022, the California Department of Public Health recommended that people upgrade from cloth face coverings to either surgical masks or KN95/N95/KF94 disposable respirators, in light of the more transmittable omicron variant of the SARS-CoV-2 virus. Yolo County Public Health provided this additional guidance:

"Upgrade your mask to an N95, KN95, KF94, or similar respirator, double mask with a cloth mask over a surgical mask, or place a PM2.5 filter between the layers of your fabric masks. Make sure your mask covers your mouth and nose without gaps between the edges of the mask and your face."

See our guidance below for reusing N95s and extended use


Training Encouraged

Students are encouraged to watch this 10-minute training on how to properly use an N95 or KN95 respirator for voluntary use before using a mask provided by campus sources:


Training and Form Required

For voluntary use of N95, KN95 or KF94 masks, UC Davis employees are required to complete this 10-minute training and sign this form:


Get the most out of your N95 or KN95

Can I reuse an N95 mask? Extended use of N95 or KN95 masks offers an improvement to typical cloth face coverings, but is not how they are normally used for standard workplace hazards that typically require the use of N95s.

These guidelines are intended to help you follow best practices to support reusing N95s or KN95s during the COVID-19 pandemic:

  • Store the mask in a bag in a clean, dry space. The user of the respirator should be able to be clearly identified. Face coverings should never be shared.
  • Wash your hands prior to and after handling the respirator.
  • Take care to avoid touching the inside of the mask while donning and doffing.
  • It is better to leave the respirator on, rather than taking it off and putting it back on repeatedly, if possible. The less a respirator is put on and taken off, the more you are able to prevent wear and soiling of the respirator.
  • Ensure the respirator is not soiled or wet prior to wearing it.
  • Do not wash your respirator.
  • Ensure the elastic strap and nose clamp are in good condition, and that the respirator stays on your face without moving.
  • Discard your respirator in the trash if it becomes soiled or wet, if it loses fit or if you have come into close contact with a person known to have been infected with COVID-19.
  • Be clean shaven. N95 and K95 masks are most effective when there is no barrier between the skin and the mask seal. Being clean shaven, however, is not mandatory for voluntary use.  

What's the difference between N95s and KN95s?

UC Davis Health has advice on best masks for the omicron variant surge, including this clarification about N95 and KN95 masks:

"The N95 is the American standard and has straps that go around your head; the KN95 is the Chinese or Korean standard and has ear loops. The '95' in its name means it filters out 95 percent of microparticles."

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention updated their guidance on masks, including authentic markings for N95 and KN95 respirators, to help consumers avoid using counterfeit masks.

All N95 masks distributed by UC Davis are NIOSH certified, and KN95 masks are from reputable sources.

Face covering best practices

Putting on a face covering

  • Avoid touching the front of the face covering once it's on.
  • Wash hands or use hand sanitizer prior to handling the face covering.
  • Ensure the face covering fits over the nose and under the chin.
  • Situate the face covering properly with nose wire snug against the nose (where applicable).
  • Tie straps behind the head and neck or loop around the ears.


Taking off a face covering

  • Do not touch your eyes, nose, or mouth when removing the face covering.
  • When taking off the face covering, loop your finger into the strap and pull the strap away from the ear, or untie the straps.
  • Wash hands or use hand sanitizer immediately after removing.


Care, storage and laundering

  • Keep face coverings stored in a paper bag when not in use.
  • Cloth face coverings should not be used more than one day at a time and must be washed after use. Cloth face coverings should be properly laundered with regular detergent before first use and after each subsequent day’s use.
  • Face coverings should be replaced immediately if soiled, damaged (e.g. ripped, punctured) or visibly contaminated.
  • Disposable face coverings must not be used for more than one day and should be placed in the trash after you return home for the day or if it is soiled, damaged (e.g., stretched ear loops, torn or punctured material) or visibly contaminated.


How to improve the effectiveness of a cloth face covering

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention off these updates for how you can improve the fit of your face covering. These two general principles can be applied to all types of effective face coverings:

  1. Make sure your face covering fits snugly, without any gaps to allow air or respiratory droplets to get through.
  2. Select a face covering that has layers to keep your respiratory droplets in and others' respiratory droplets out.

The CDC offers these additional tips and you can also read additional details:

  • DO choose a face covering with a nose wire.
  • DO use a mask fitter or brace to prevent air from leaking around the edges of the face covering.
  • DO check that your face covering fits snugly over your nose, mouth, and chin.
  • DO add layers of material — with either a cloth face covering that has multiple layers of material or by wearing a disposable mask under a cloth face covering.
  • DO NOT combine two disposable masks when "double masking."
  • DO NOT combine a KN95 mask with any other mask. Use only one KN95 at a time.