While vaccines are our most powerful tool against COVID-19, masks remain an important form of protection from airborne diseases so wearing a good quality mask is critical. To further protect students, staff, and faculty in UNM learning and research environments, cloth masks will no longer comply with the existing masking requirements.
Effective Jan. 18, UNM will require that medical or health grade masks be worn. UNM students, staff, and faculty must wear three-ply or better medical/health procedure masks (ASTM Type 1, 2 or 3 or better).
“Given the significant rise in cases and the apparent increased contagiousness of the omicron variant, we’re following the latest advice from scientific experts and asking to upgrade to a more protective type of mask,” wrote UNM President Garnett S. Stokes in a campus-wide message on January 10. “We are continuing to take a data-driven, evidence-based approach to mitigate the impact of COVID-19 on our campuses and across our community.”
As the omicron variant is highly transmissible, cloth masks do not afford the best protection against smaller aerosols or particles potentially laden with airborne virus if infected people are present. Cloth masks may be worn on top of the required medical or health grade masks to enhance fit but should not be worn alone. UNM requires masks to be worn indoors at all times, in all UNM facilities unless eating, drinking, or in an office alone.
Masks will be available for students in a variety of locations, including high-traffic classroom buildings like Mitchell, Dane Smith, and Woodward Halls, and the Collaborative Teaching and Learning Building (CTLB). Student mask ambassadors will also be in the common areas of those classroom buildings handing masks out to students who need them. Johnson Recreation Center and the Student Union Building (SUB) will have masks available as well. Masks are also being allocated to the College and School deans’ offices for distribution to the departments on campus.
Watch this helpful video to improve the fit of your mask.
UNM continues to closely monitor changes in guidance provided by the Center for Disease Control (CDC) and the New Mexico Department of Health (NMDOH).
Given the significant rise in cases and the apparent increased contagiousness of the omicron variant new guidance was issued from both the CDC and NMDOH late last week. In response, the Bringing Back the Pack website has been updated with new protocols including:
- Managing Symptoms, Exposure and Positive Cases: These new procedures adopt the latest CDC and NMDOH guidance to ensure our community remains safe and minimize the need for quarantine or isolation.
- UNM COVID-19 Call Center Process Changes: To better manage volume and streamline processes, the UNM COVID-19 Call Center has implemented a new secure online symptom survey. This survey implementation replaces the former “call the UNM Call Center” guidance and instead employees will utilize this new survey to communicate their individual situations.
- Updated Mask Requirements: Following the latest advice from scientific experts, UNM is requiring employees to upgrade to a more protective type of mask – a three-ply or better medical/health procedure mask.
For more information and guidance for the upcoming spring semester including COVID-19 protocols for students and instructors, including information on masking and UNM’s vaccination booster requirement, visit The Pack is Back: A Safe Return to Campus.