UCLA updates masking guidelines, isolation protocols on campus
All students, faculty and staff must now wear upgraded face masks while in indoor common spaces on campus, such as those worn by UCLA students Nima Adhami, Yufei Wang, Shan Howerton and Naomi Segal (clockwise from top left). UCLA updated their masking requirement Thursday in response to recent public health guidance stating that cloth masks are not as effective at filtering out the COVID-19 virus. (Seth Van Matre/Daily Bruin)
This post was updated Jan. 18 at 12:26 a.m.
UCLA updated its masking protocol Thursday to require that individuals wear masks that are of surgical or better quality.
According to the campuswide email, students, faculty and staff must now wear medical-grade masks, surgical masks, KN95s or other respirators such as N95s approved by the National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health. Masks are required in dining halls, classrooms, libraries, laboratories and other shared indoor spaces.
The announcement comes after experts have urged individuals to wear more effective, tighter-fitting face masks amid the spread of the highly contagious omicron variant. The California Department of Public Health recommends wearing a well-fitting mask that can effectively filter air and block virus particles from entering.
According to the CDPH’s website, N95 masks are the most effective, followed by KF94, KN95, double masks and a fitted surgical mask. Cloth masks – which do not meet UCLA’s new requirement – are the least effective but can be improved by layering them on top of surgical masks.
Beginning Jan. 19, students can pick up free upgraded masks on campus, including at the John Wooden Center, Student Activities Center and locations run by Associated Students UCLA. UCLA Housing now provides upgraded masks at no cost for students living in university-owned housing at their respective front desks, according to the updated policy.
The university is also requiring that all departments provide free upgraded masks to all faculty and staff working on site, in accordance with the Los Angeles County Department of Public Health guidance for colleges and universities. The email added that departments must make these masks available to students upon request.
In addition to updated mask requirements, the email announced changes to isolation and quarantine protocols.
Students who have tested positive for COVID-19 and experienced symptoms can exit isolation five days after their symptoms began if they test negative on a rapid antigen test on that day, their symptoms have improved and they are fever-free without using fever-reducing medications. The updated university policy also states asymptomatic students can end isolation on day five if they receive a negative rapid test result on that day and they have remained asymptomatic.