FAQs‑Required COVID‑19 facial coverings for all institutional and facility staff

Updated Feb. 2, 2022

Effective Jan. 25 and until further notice, all persons entering CDCR institutions and facilities shall either wear either an N95 or KN95 mask in order to protect against the spread of COVID-19.

N95 and KN95 masks are quite similar in filtering non-oil-based particles, such as viruses.

The two masks have the same filter performance of 95% or more. This means they both can reduce the concentration of airborne particles that pass through the filter at the same rate.

All civil service employees and contractors who enter or work in isolation or quarantine areas must be fit-tested and wear an N95 mask at all times.

The N95 mask and fit-testing requirement also applies to staff who transport and/or guard isolation or quarantine patients.

Additionally, if a staff member prefers to wear an N95 rather than a KN95 while on institution grounds, they can do so if fit- tested, and will be provided upon request.

All civil service employees and contractors who do not enter or work in isolation or quarantine areas must wear a KN95 mask at all times while on CDCR institution/facility grounds.

The KN95 mask requirement also applies to staff who have been exposed to COVID-19, are asymptomatic, and are cleared to return to work during contingency staffing operations unless working in isolation or quarantine areas where an N-95 is required.

The N95/KN95 mask requirement applies to all employees and contractors regardless of vaccination/booster status. N95/KN95 masks are readily available at each institution/facility and shall be provided to staff when requested.

Everyone who wears an N95 must be fit-tested. No fit-testing is required for KN95s.

Exceptions to N95/KN95 masking requirements apply as follows:

  1. While actively eating or drinking, if a minimum of six feet of physical distance is maintained from all other individuals.
  2. When alone in an office with the door closed.
  3. When alone in a tower or enclosed control booth with no other individuals present.
  4. When outdoors, if a minimum of six feet of physical distance is maintained from all other individuals. An appropriate mask shall be kept on the person at all times and shall be worn while walking or standing within six feet of others.

During emergency response, staff must focus on the safety and security of the institution. If a staff member needs to enter an area that requires the use of a N95 but doesn’t have one on, the emergency takes precedent and should not stop them from entering the area. Once the emergency is under control staff should follow all masking protocol in place.

No. People who wear N95 masks must be fit-tested. If a person cannot be fit-tested, they cannot enter into a quarantine or isolation area, and will be reassigned.

The incarcerated population who have work assignments in isolation or quarantine areas must also be fit-tested and wear N95s in those settings. If they cannot be fit-tested, they will be reassigned.

All incarcerated persons are also provided a minimum of two disposable procedure masks per week to replace the cloth masks previously distributed. They are also offered one unaltered KN95 mask each week.  

The N95/KN95 requirement applies only to California Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation (CDCR) institutions and facilities at this time. Facial barriers are required at Headquarters and field office locations for all employees and visitors. If a staff member visit CDCR institution or facilities they will have to abide by the current masking policy.