HARTFORD, Conn. — Editor’s Note: This article has been corrected to clarify the extent of the recall.
The Connecticut State Department of Education alerted school superintendents Friday that some N95 masks that school staff received during the pandemic may not have met all of the required technical standards.
State officials said the N95 masks were made by mask manufacturer BYD and the state of Connecticut procured millions of their products and has distributed them throughout the pandemic.
In its letter to superintendents, the DOE said the masks in question were distributed to municipalities before October 14, 2021. They stressed the masks were not among those distributed as part of the state’s recent COVID test kit and N95 mask distribution efforts.
According to officials, some of the masks did not meet NIOSH technical standards for N95 masks. However, the masks are not harmful and still provide protection from airborne disease, it's just not at the level that a typical N95 would be.
Brian Foley, of the Department of Emergency Services and Public Protection, told FOX61 News that the state was notified in October of a recall by BYD affecting certain lot numbers.
“At that point, the state quarantined all of the BYD’s and multiple communications were sent regarding the recall to municipal officials,” he said.
Foley said the National Guard spent more than three weeks reviewing every case in the state’s warehouse, reviewing the lot numbers and corresponding serial numbers.
Any case in which the lot number and the serial numbers lines up were among those recalled, he said.
“Just having N95’s with the associated lot numbers does not mean they are recalled,” he added.
All recalled N95 masks that were in the state’s warehouse and those returned by municipalities after the notices were sent back to the manufacturer.
The Connecticut Education Association President Kate Dias released a statement regarding the recalled N95 masks, saying,
"After everything educators and their students have endured over the past two weeks, including staffing shortages, a lack of COVID tests, and delays in receiving N95 masks, the possibility that educators were provided with recalled equipment is very disappointing, to say the least.
"It is important that this misstep is addressed immediately, and we are grateful that the SDE acted quickly when made aware of the situation and provided notification to superintendents. Knowing that administrations, like in Waterbury, are taking actions and moving swiftly to correct this problem is a positive step. We will be working with our members to ensure any recalled equipment is promptly replaced and educators have the high-quality N95 masks they were promised."
Educators who have an N95 from BYD with the corresponding lot number and serial number can contact their district's administrators to get a new N95 mask.
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