AMS providing 65k KN95 masks, UBC providing 500k medical masks when classes return in person

Both the AMS and the university have purchased thousands of masks ahead of the return to in-person learning.

On February 7, UBC students can head to the Nest and pick up a pack of ten KN95 masks for free. In addition, the administration will be handing out medical masks and rapid antigen tests.

Eshana Bhangu, the AMS vice-president of academic and university affairs, said funding for the AMS’s 65,000 K95 masks was approved by the AMS/GSS Health and Dental Committee.

The exact location for pick up will be advertised on the AMS's social media accounts.

“You do have masks available here if you're struggling because they are expensive,” Bhangu said. 

While the masks are primarily for students, the AMS doesn’t want to prevent folks that may be on campus and need access to KN95s.

“I really trust that everybody will be considerate of their fellow students and members of the UBC community to not grab more than they need,” Bhangu said. She added that the AMS is prepared to order more KN95 masks if they run low.

Bhangu said the AMS decided to purchase these masks due to a lack of confidence that the university would purchase high-quality masks.

“I do think UBC probably will order masks, but I’m not confident that they will be KN95 or KN94 … that have recently been proven to reduce transmission more than the regular three-layer masks.”

Matthew Ramsey of UBC Media Relations said that the university has acquired 500,000 medical masks, and has ordered 700,000 more. The university has begun distributing those masks to residences, faculties and departments. Masks will also be available through student ambassadors and outside the Nest where rapid antigen testing kits will be handed out to symptomatic community members. 

“[After] discussion through the executive, it was decided that the medical masks were a better option,” Ramsey said. The university  could “get more of them, and … the KN95s are not NIOSH [National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health] approved, and there are issues with fitting.”

Ramsey encouraged students to pay attention to UBC’s broadcast emails for further information on how to access masks and tests.

“We’re doing all we can under the circumstances, and we just ask that people keep their masks on when they're indoors. Follow the rules and be safe and healthy."

Bhangu added that the AMS has been advocating to UBC to "masks and rapid tests for students."

"Our decision to purchase masks ourselves is in addition to those efforts and we will continue to fight for students and ensure a safe campus.”