Keeping our community safe

Your health and well-being and that of the greater university community is the priority in our response to COVID-19, and in our return-to-the-workplace strategy.

University expectations and guidelines on how to safely return to and work on campus are outlined here. Any updates to practices and policies will be posted as our understanding of COVID-19 continues to evolve.

Requirements for returning to campus

We appreciate your dedication to WashU and are grateful for everything you’re doing to ensure the safety of your colleagues and our community. There are several requirements for all employees to return to campus:

    Do not come to work if you have any symptoms of COVID-19

    • Fever
    • Coughing
    • Shortness of breath or difficulty breathing
    • Chills
    • Muscle pain
    • Headache
    • Sore throat
    • New loss of taste or smell

    Contact the employee hotline for COVID-19 exposure or illness: 314-362-5056

    Online Screening

    All personnel must complete a daily screening through the WashU COVID-19 Screening tool prior to entering a Washington University building. Personnel should complete and pass this screening each day before coming to campus.

    Return to Campus Training

    To ensure understanding and compliance, employees must complete the Return to Campus Training. Review and complete the training before returning to campus and make your pledge to keep our community healthy and safe.

    WashU’s policies and practices have been developed based upon guidance from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA), St. Louis City and County Public Health officials, and our own world-class university public health and medical professionals.

    Health and safety guidelines for working on campus

    Face covering guidelines: cloth or disposable

    face mask icon

    • Wear a mask that fully covers your mouth and nose at all times while on campus, unless you are alone in an individual closed office space or are outside and can maintain six feet of physical distance from others.
    • If you do not have a mask, see the CDC’s guidance on creating one with or without sewing.
    • Wash your hands before placing and removing your mask.
    • Store your mask in a clean area when not in use.

    Social distancing in the workplace

    social distancing icon

    • Maintain at least six feet of separation from other people.
    • Avoid or minimize in-person meetings.
    • Talk to your manager about your area’s plan for staggering operations, meal times, etc.
    • Do not congregate in common areas (break rooms, conference rooms, common equipment rooms, etc.)
    • Wash your hands before and after entering a common area.

    Practice good hygiene

    hygiene icon

    • Wash your hands often with soap and water for at least 20 seconds, especially after you have been in a public place or after blowing your nose, coughing or sneezing.
    • Alcohol-based disinfectant can be used if soap and water are not available. 
    • Review CDC guidance on hand-washing.
    • Avoid touching your face.
    • Clean and disinfect highly touched surfaces frequently. Facilities will be cleaning offices and common areas, but you should use cleaning supplies provided to keep your workspace clean.
    • Clean and disinfect common areas after use. Ask your manager or refer to specific guidelines for your office, lab or workspace. Cleaning supplies are provided to each department for individual use when necessary. Facilities will also be cleaning spaces.
    • Do not share headsets or other equipment that is near your face.

    Guidance for specific workplace scenarios


    • Take the stairs when feasible.
    • Limit occupancy to 1-3 people (depending on elevator size).
    • Do not use your hands to press elevator buttons (use elbows, no-touch devices, etc.).
    • Wash your hands or use hand sanitizer after exiting the elevator.
    • Remember to wear your mask in the elevator.
    • Do not wear disposable gloves.


    • Maintain at least six feet of distance from co-workers.
    • No more than one person should be in a shared workspace/room unless at least six feet of distancing can be consistently maintained.
    • Consider eliminating reception seating areas and remove or reconfigure seats, furniture and workstations as needed to maintain physical distancing requirements.
    • If possible, have at least one workstation separating you from another co-worker and reconfigure workstations so employees do not face each other.
    • Consider temporarily removing or replacing amenities that are handled with high contact frequency—such as shared coffee makers, bulk snacks and water coolers—with alternatives.
    • Take steps to minimize interactions with employees, such as:
      • Visual cues on the floor or signs to instruct staff where to stand
      • One-way directional signage for workspaces with multiple thru-ways
      • Designating specific stairways for up/down traffic if building space allows

    Breaks and Meals

    • Follow the instructions for each dining establishment regarding social distancing, carry-out, etc.
    • Meals should be taken alone or outside with a distance of at least six feet from others.

    • In break rooms:
      • Stagger break times to avoid congregating.
      • Wash your hands upon entering the room.
      • Maintain at least six feet of distance from other people.
      • Wear a mask when not eating.
      • Disinfect surfaces you have touched.
      • Wash your hands when leaving the room.


      • Consider posting occupied/unoccupied signage to limit the number of people and to allow appropriate social distancing.
      • Wash your hands upon entering the room.
      • Wear a mask.
      • Use every other facility (stall, sink, etc.).
      • Wash your hands after using the restroom.
      • Use a paper towel to open doors and to use sinks.


      • Avoid in-person meetings if possible. If in-person meetings are required:
        • Wash your hands upon entering the room.
        • Maintain six feet of distance from other people.
        • Wear a mask.
        • Disinfect surfaces you have touched.
        • Wash your hands when leaving the room.

      Public Transportation

      When using public transportation or the campus shuttle system:

      • Wash your hands or use hand sanitizer before boarding.
      • Wear a mask.
      • Avoid touching surfaces with your hands.
      • Upon disembarking, wash your hands or use hand sanitizer as soon as possible and before removing your mask.

      What if I have concerns?

      If you have concerns or observe unsafe conditions or practices, first contact your supervisor, division chief or department head. If you still have concerns, view the helpful links and contact information below.

      Manager Guidance

      Find specific guidance for helping employees safely return to work, and resources for managing through this unique campus environment. View the Return to Campus Manager Guidance web page.

      Helpful numbers and links

      • Occupational Health line for COVID-19 exposure or illness: 314-362-5056
      • General questions/concerns about COVID-19 (Danforth Campus): 314-995-8300
      • Coping with COVID-19 hotline for emotional support: 314-286-1700
      • Employee Assistance Program for 24/7 work-life support: 844-365-4587
      • Occupational Health
      • Environmental Health and Safety
      • University COVID-19