Arkansas Tech University is updating its students on the latest face covering guidance from the American College Health Association (ACHA).
Due to the spread of the Omicron variant of COVID-19, the ACHA is recommending that institutions of higher education distribute and promote the use of N95, KN95 or surgical masks.
As of Wednesday, Jan. 26, N95 and KN95 masks remain in short supply. The U.S. government has released 400 million N95 masks from its strategic national stockpile and those masks will be distributed at pharmacies and health centers.
National retailers with a presence in the Arkansas River Valley that have indicated they will participate in the distribution of free N95 masks (limit of three per person) include CVS, Kroger, Walgreens and Walmart. Other distribution points could be added to this list as they become known.
In the meantime, ATU has a large and accessible supply of surgical masks available for students, faculty and staff.
The free surgical masks are available on the ATU campus in Russellville at the following locations:
*Baswell Techionery (entry way)
*Chambers Cafeteria (cashier’s stand)
*Hull Building Student Union
*Ross Pendergraft Library and Technology Center
On the ATU campus in Ozark, free surgical masks are available at the entrances of the following buildings:
*Health Science and Wellness Building
*Student Services and Conference Center,
*Technology and Academic Support
“Masks should cover both the nose and mouth and fit tightly to assure the best protection,” reads a portion of the face covering guidance provided to institutions of higher education by the ACHA. “With the highly transmissible nature of the Omicron variant, campuses should reinforce the importance of wearing face coverings in a way that produces a good fit with no air gaps. If resources are limited, double masking as described in (U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention) guidance is the next best option.”
Double masking can include placing a cloth face covering over a surgical mask.
The ATU COVID-19 management plan states that individuals who are on an Arkansas Tech campus are “required to wear face coverings regardless of their vaccination status when indoors in a congregational setting, including classrooms, meeting rooms, building lobbies and hallways.”
Faculty and staff members who are alone in their offices and students who are in their residence hall rooms and on-campus apartments are not required to wear face coverings.
Learn more about Arkansas Tech’s efforts to mitigate the COVID-19 pandemic at www.atu.edu/pandemicrecovery.