Facial Coverings & Distancing Guidelines

The university plans for every semester with the health and safety of our community members as our top priority. We take into account guidelines from the CDC and our local health authorities to maintain the health guidelines for our campuses. 


Community Alert Levels - Updated May 27, 2022

High Community Level

At present, these counties has a high community level designation for COVID-19 cases, which requires individuals on campuses in these counties to wear a face covering indoors.

  • Ashtabula
  • Cuyahoga
  • Note: Masks are not required while working alone in an enclosed space, such as a private office or lab.

Medium Community Level

At present, these counties have entered the medium community level category. Face coverings on campuses and locations in these counties are not required, but COVID-19 cases are on the rise.

  • Geauga
  • Portage
  • Summit
  • Trumbull

Low Community Level

At present, these counties, where we have campuses and locations, remain at low community levels for COVID-19 cases.

  • Columbiana
  • Stark
  • Tuscarawas
Protocols
Face coverings required only in healthcare settings and in the Child Development Center on the Kent Campus.
  • This is based on the current COVID-19 community levels of the individual counties where we have campuses and locations.
    • If any of the counties where we operate move into the high community level, the mask requirement will return for that campus or location.
  • Students requesting an accommodation from wearing a face covering in spaces where they are currently required should contact Student Accessibility Services by emailing sas@kent.edu or calling 330-672-3391. 
  • Faculty or staff seeking an accommodation in spaces where they are currently required should email Kent State’s Office of Compliance, Equal Opportunity and Affirmative Action at aa_eeo@kent.edu or call 330-672-2038.
  • Any supervisor or employee that have questions regarding the non-compliance of the mask requirement for staff employees, please contact Karen Watson, Director, Employee and Labor Relations at erelations@kent.edu or call 330-672-8526.
  • Read the full mask guidance update message, issued March 3, 2022.
Face Coverings: General Questions and Answers

How do I know which campuses require face coverings based on community levels of COVID?

Please refer to the county status list above to determine whether you need to wear a face covering on your campus when indoors with others.

You could also choose to rely on the headlines on the coronavirus home page to see the most recent emails with updated campus and county community health level alerts and statuses, which impact face covering requirements.


For those individuals who may have to wear face coverings due to community levels of COVID and or those who choose to continue wearing a face covering, below are some best practices and tips.

How often should cloth face coverings be washed? and how?

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention recommends that cloth face coverings be washed after each use.

If that isn't possible, reusable cloth masks should be washed as soon as they become dirty or at least once per week. Always wash your hands after handling or touching a used mask. Reusable face masks can be washed along with your regular laundry, using regular detergent and settings appropriate for the fabric. Dry the mask completely in a warm or hot dryer. Hand-washing is also appropriate with detergent and water. Masks should be thoroughly rinsed and dried completely prior to reuse. N95 and KN95 respirators should not be washed (water destroys the electrostatic charge that captures viruses). If dirty or potentially contaminated, they should be placed in the trash. 

Can paper face masks be worn more than once?

Disposable face masks should be thrown away after a single use.

Take caution when removing a face covering. Follow these steps:

1. Always remove face coverings correctly. To do so:

  • Untie the strings behind your head or stretch the ear loops.
  • Handle only by the ear loops or ties.
  • Fold outside corners together.
  • Place covering in the washing machine (learn more about how to wash cloth face coverings).
  • Be careful not to touch your eyes, nose and mouth when removing and wash hands immediately after removing.

2. Wash your hands after handling or touching a used face covering.

What should I use to cover my face during the COVID pandemic, a face covering or a face shield?

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) recommends three styles of face coverings for protection from the virus causing COVID-19:

  • Cloth face masks of at least 2-ply, tightly woven, breathable fabrics (the fabric should block light when held up to bright light source)
  • 3-ply medical-grade, surgical/procedure masks
  • N95/KN95 respirators

Face coverings should completely cover your nose and mouth, fit snugly against the sides of your face and have a pliable nose bridge that can seal around the nose. Reasonable accommodations will be provided to anyone who cannot wear a face covering.  KN95 and medical-grade masks can be picked up at the at-home rapid test site distribution locations across the Kent and Regional Campuses.

Acceptable alternatives are available, including transparent face coverings and face shields. Be advised that for a face shield to be protective against transmitting the virus, it must wrap around to the ears and down past the chin where an obstructive modification is used to prevent virus from being exhaled out below the shield. Per the CDC, bandanas are not suitable face coverings as they are too thin and too loose to provide the needed protection. When selecting a face covering and verifying best practices for how to wear a face covering, please see this CDC web page

Traditional, transparent face shields are used in conjunction with a cloth face covering, surgical mask or N95 filter respirator. This face shield is used primarily by first responders and medical personnel, as the shield serves to block virus and debris from clogging the face covering and limiting its usefulness when used in areas of high virus load (hospitals, ambulances, etc.). It wraps around the face to the ear and down the face to approximately chin level. 

One non-traditional face shield is available from Pam Fitzgerald (for faculty and staff) or Amanda Feaster (for students) for those who cannot wear something that directly covers the nose and mouth. Find their contact information in the university's online phone directory. This shield wraps farther around the face, almost covering the ears and past the chin. Importantly, it has a chin shelf that folds up to prevent exhaled virus from escaping from behind the shield. 

Access to N95/KN95 Masks and other types

We know there have been times when these have been hard to find. The university has provided KN95 and medical-grade masks at the rapid test distribution sites on the Kent Campus and the Regional Campuses. All units have access to ordering and maintaining a supply of KN95 and medical-grade masks at all campuses. This information has been communicated. Students in the residence halls have been supplied with KN95 masks at the start of the semester. All students have received email communication on the best types and locations of masks, and this information is on the website. 

Kent State will be providing face coverings to students and employees who attend large events on campus. Faculty and staff will have face coverings available within their unit/department. All units/departments on campus can order additional supplies and face coverings through Flash Track.

If you are seeking these items from other locations, keep these tips in mind:

  • The 3-ply medical-grade masks should be obtained from a reliable source and be marked as ASTM Level 3 masks. This designation typically is found on the box or bag of masks, not on the mask itself. The ASTM certification indicates that the mask complies with standards of fluid resistance, particle filtration and breathability for infection control. 
  • N95 and KN95 respirators should likewise be obtained from a reliable source and be marked according to the standards used in production for the country ordering them. N95 is the designation used by U.S. regulators, and its manufacturer standards are encoded in the Code of Federal Regulations. KN95 is the designation used by several countries and meets an international standard, similar to the N95 standard. (Unfortunately, counterfeit KN95 respirators have flooded the market.) N95 and KN95 respirators should be stamped with the country manufacture standard reference. For example, KN95s supplied to campus earlier are stamped as 3M 9501+, indicating that 3M made these KN95s according to the specifications of Australia and New Zealand, and stamped as GB-2626-2019, indicating that they also comply with the standards set by China. Importantly, respirators manufactured by current NIOSH-approval holders, who also produce respirators under standards authorized in other countries, are expected to provide the protection indicated. NIOSH is the National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health. 
  • U.S.-certified N95 respirators are being reserved for medical staff who are in the trenches with COVID-19, and potential COVID-19 patients, per CDC guidance, to ensure availability for healthcare use. Kent State has ordered KN95 respirators and medical-grade surgical masks that can be requested by any department or campus through Flash Track. Additionally, KN95 respirators and surgical masks have been placed at various distribution points around the Kent Campus. 

What about KF94s? 

The KF94 (KF stands for “Korean filter,” and the 94 means it filters 94% of particles) is a high-quality mask that folds flat and is made in Korea. Its efficacy is similar to the N95 and KN95. It is designed specifically for the consumer market. Unfortunately, counterfeit KF94 respirators have been identified globally, making purchases from a reputable distributor essential for safety.

Storing masks and respirators

If your mask is wet (from exhaled moisture), is dirty (from sweat, makeup or other substances) or has been exposed to a known source of COVID-19 (being within 6 feet of a positive case for more than 15 minutes), carefully remove it by the ear loops or head straps (not the front of the mask) and store it in a plastic bag until it can be washed. Wash as soon as possible to prevent it from getting moldy. 

If your N95 or KN95 respirator is wet (from exhaled moisture), it should be put into a paper bag and left to air dry for at least 72 hours before reuse. If the respirator is dirty (from sweat, makeup or other substances) or it has been exposed to a known source of COVID-19 (being within 6 feet of a positive case for more than 15 minutes), carefully remove it by the ear loops or head straps (not the front of the respirator) and discard it in the trash. 

 

 

Physical distancing
  • We do not require physical distancing on our campuses at this time.