Fabric no longer makes the cut, so UNM will require medical grade masks

Even though the University of New Mexico reported a 92% vaccination rate last semester, there was a spike in positive COVID-19 cases already in 2022. With more than 13,000 students expected to return to the Albuquerque campus for face-to-face classes next week, UNM announced new safety protocols that they hope will protect people from the virus.

This week, UNM asked students and employees on all campuses to increase their mask set for the start of the spring semester due to rising infections and the spread of the omicron variant. highly contagious of COVID-19.

The two-ply cloth masks that had become the norm are proving insufficient to protect against the omicron. In response, UNM will require medical grade masks be worn indoors from January 18. These are the three-ply surgical masks which are quite inexpensive and the N95 style masks which cost a bit more but offer the highest level of protection.

UNM spokesman Cinnamon Blair said the administration speaks regularly with experts from the Health Sciences Center about safety protocols.

“We anticipate this high level of transmissibility. We really want people to have the best, and that’s going to be this type of mask.”

UNM will have “mask ambassadors” in high-traffic areas and in many large classroom buildings next week to donate surgical masks to students who need them. Some of the places on campus to get masks are the Student Union Building, Johnson Gym, Mitchell Hall, Dane Smith Hall, Woodward Hall, and in the Collaborative Teaching and Learning Building in the center of campus.

History department administrator Yolanda Martinez said her office has a small stock of face masks from the start of the pandemic that they will distribute to instructors to share with students in need during the week. next.

Blair said deans’ offices are also working to distribute masks to academic departments so instructors have extras on hand.

There are disciplinary measures in place for students or staff who do not comply with COVID-19 safety measures with penalties as severe as deregistration for students and dismissal for staff who do not present proof of vaccination and withdrawal of students from classes for several cases of mask violation.

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