KN95 Mask Instructions and Frequently Asked Questions

September 9, 2021 (updated March 2, 2022)

The wearing of KN95 masks for certain scenarios are included in the UMB Policy Requiring the Use of Face Coverings.

What is a KN95?

KN95 masks reduce the amount of dust or virus particles a person breathes in by approximately 95 percent.

When KN95s are required, does UMB allow masks other than KN95s under the UMB Policy Requiring Use of Face Coverings?

Medical-grade, KN95 or an equivalent mask as shown below are acceptable where masking is required.

Cloth masks, bandanas, gaiters, scarves, and masks with valves are not permitted at UMB

UMB encourages unvaccinated people or people who are not up to date on their COVID-19 vaccine to (1) get their primary vaccine series and recommended booster vaccine and (2) to wear a KN95 or equivalent mask when interacting with people indoors.

Please note that masks with valves are not permitted.

 Mask Class

Efficiency (≥)

Country Certification Standard







KP95 (oil proof)



KP100 (oil proof)








European Union



European Union

DS2 or DL2



DS3 or DL3





Australian and New Zealand 



Australian and New Zealand 







Japan and the European Union have a 3-scale rating system for masks with the lowest level having an 80 percent efficiency rating. Thus, Japan DS1 or DL1 class and European Union FFP1 class masks are not permitted due to the lower efficiency level.   

How do I obtain a KN95?

UMB will provide an initial KN95 mask to each person through each school/unit. Your school/unit will provide direction on how to receive your KN95, but please feel free to provide your own. They are readily available online and in many local retailers. KN95s, while disposable, are designed to be worn multiple times safely.

How do I know if my KN95 mask is counterfeit?

UMB is supplying KN95s that have been vetted through trusted vendors.

CDC has a website with tips on how to purchase international respirators.

KN95s are not certified by the National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health (NIOSH). CDC has a website with tips on how to identify misrepresentation of NIOSH certification and counterfeit masks.

Why use a KN95 instead of a cloth or surgical face mask?

Students, faculty, and staff may wear medical-grade masks or KN95s or equivalent masks in areas where universal masking is required. All these masks reduce the spread of the virus from the person wearing a mask. However, a Centers for Disease Control and Prevention study (2022) found that consistently wearing a N95 or KN95 mask in indoor public settings reduced the odds of getting COVID-19 by 83 percent. The study included settings where the person interacted with others who were NOT wearing a mask. The study found that medical-grade (surgical) masks also reduce the odds of getting COVID-19, but at a lower level (66 percent).

Therefore, a person should consider their personal health and circumstances along with the different protection levels each mask offers when selecting whether to wear surgical/medical masks or KN95s or equivalent masks where universal masking is required.

Should I wear a cloth mask with my KN95?

No, wearing a cloth mask in addition to your KN95 reduces its effectiveness.

Will a KN95 protect me during an exposure to COVID-19?

If you are exposed to the virus while wearing a KN95, you are less likely to develop COVID-19. In addition, you likely will have less-restrictive self-isolation or quarantine requirements than a person wearing a cloth or surgical mask.

How is a KN95 different from an N95?

The Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) does not consider a KN95 mask a negative-pressure respirator since it has not been certified by the National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health. Therefore, OSHA does not require a person be “fit tested” to wear a KN95. Since a person is not fit tested for a KN95, they should not use a KN95 in situations where a fit-tested N95 mask is required (for example, in clinical areas or for certain medical procedures).

Why use a KN95 instead of an N95?

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention recommends that N95s be reserved for use by health care providers due to the COVID-19 pandemic.

What other actions should I take if I wear a KN95?

Even if you wear a KN95, you should still: 

  • Get the COVID-19 vaccine and a booster if you have not already done so. The vaccine is the best way to protect yourself and your family, friends, classmates, and co-workers from COVID-19.
  • Stay home if you are sick or have symptoms consistent with COVID-19, and call the UMB COVID-19 Hotline at 1-800-701-9863.
  • Practice physical distancing when feasible.
  • Wash your hands frequently for at least 20 seconds with soap and water.
  • Avoid touching your eyes, nose, and mouth.

Who should wear a KN95 at the University of Maryland, Baltimore (UMB)?

The UMB Policy Requiring Use of Face Coverings outlines when a person is required to wear a face covering at UMB. The policy specifically requires or recommends a medical grade, KN95 or equivlant as follows:   

  • Regardless of vaccination status, masks are only required for people 2 years or older in the following locations:

    • Patient care and clinical areas to include patient waiting areas
    • In-person healthcare simulation labs - face shields/eye protection is no longer required in healthcare simulation labs
    • UMB public transportation (UMB shuttle or safe ride)

    Schools, units, supervisors, and/or faculty cannot mandate masking for COVID-19 in locations not covered under this policy. 

Does UMB require KN95s in labs?

A medical grade, KN95 or equivalent is required for in-person healthcare simulation labs. Face shields/eye protection is no longer required in healthcare simulation labs.

How do I properly use my KN95?

  • If possible, wash or sanitize your hands immediately before and after putting your KN95 on and immediately before and after taking it off when planning to reuse it.
  • Unfold your mask and flatten the metal nose clip.
  • Place the mask over your face, with the bottom below your chin and the nosepiece up.
  • Place the straps of the mask over each of your ears.
  • Adjust the metal nose clip using fingers from both hands to mold the clip to the shape of your nose.
  • Adjust fit as necessary to reduce air flow around the mask.
  • Significant facial hair (more than 3-days growth) adversely effects the ability of the KN95 to form a tight seal around your face and thus reduces the KN95’s effectiveness at protecting you from COVID-19. Therefore, parts of your face that come in contact with the KN95 should be free of significant facial hair.
  • If you wear glasses and find fogging to be a nuisance, wash the lenses with soapy water and shake off the excess before putting on your mask (wipe off nose piece to minimize skin irritation).

What if my KN95 doesn’t fit?

The KN95s UMB purchased for distribution are universal adult sized. You are welcome to purchase your own KN95 masks. You also may wish to try a KF94 mask, which are the equivalent South Korean masks.

How should I care for and store my KN95?

Please DO NOT attempt to wash your KN95. With proper care, your KN95 should be reusable for an extended period of time.

To keep your KN95 clean between uses, store your mask in a safe location that other people cannot access and where it will not get wet or be subject to direct sunlight or excessive heat. A dry paper bag works well for storing your KN95.

When should I discard my KN95? You should replace your KN95 when it:

  • Becomes soiled
  • No longer covers the nose and mouth
  • Has stretched out or damaged ties or straps
  • Cannot stay on the face
  • Has holes or tears in the fabric

A KN95 may be disposed of in the normal trash.

Why did UMB put a KN95 mask mandate in place?

A KN95 mask provides better protection for you and reduces the spread of the virus from someone wearing one. You are less likely to develop COVID-19 after close contact with someone who tested positive when wearing one. It also means we can generally reduce or eliminate self-isolation or quarantine requirements, which is particularly important in classroom environments with students sitting in a communal setting for long periods of time.