Safe Practices

How do we stay safe at Princeton during the COVID-19 pandemic? This section gives guidance on best practices and resources to help us all protect ourselves and each other.

Please note that all public health protocols at Princeton, including wearing face coverings and social distancing, continue to be applicable to all individuals on campus, whether or not they have received the vaccine.

Also note that the information on this page is subject to change, aligned with University policy, so check it frequently.

Summary of Public Health Requirements Based on Vaccination Status

Employees (see definition below) and students who are NOT fully vaccinated:

  • Wear a face covering indoors except when allowed according to the Policy on Face Coverings.
  • Maintain at least 6 feet of social distance at all times when indoors. Social distancing is not required outdoors.
  • Complete the Daily Symptom Check each day before beginning work on campus or before entering campus buildings other than your campus residence.
  • Participate in the asymptomatic testing program, testing two times per week during the weeks living in University dormitories, working on campus, or accessing campus buildings.
  • If identified as a close contact of an individual who has tested positive or is suspected to have COVID-19, self-quarantine for the period of time determined by University Health Services.
  • Complete a Risk Assessment after traveling internationally. Quarantine as determined by University Health Services.

Employees and students who are fully vaccinated and have entered their vaccination information into VacStatus (for employees) or MyUHS (for students):

  • Wear a face covering indoors except when allowed according to the Policy on Face Coverings.
  • Do not need to maintain at least 6 feet of social distance at all times when indoors or outdoors.
  • Complete the Daily Symptom Check each day before beginning work or entering non-residential buildings on campus.
  • Participate in the asymptomatic testing program, testing one time per week during the weeks living in University dormitories, working on campus, or accessing campus buildings.
  • Employees and students who are fully vaccinated do not need to self-quarantine in the event of exposure to an individual who has tested positive for COVID-19 or after travel domestically or internationally.

Employees include all individuals routinely working on the Princeton University campus or other property occupied by Princeton -- including faculty, staff, researchers, visiting faculty and researchers, temporary employees, and independent contract employees.

Fully vaccinated means that at least two weeks have passed since receiving the second dose of a two-dose vaccine or the single dose of a one-dose vaccine.

Face Coverings

Illustration of tiger wearing mask

Per University policy, a face covering that covers the nose and mouth, fits snugly against the sides of the face, and does not have gaps must be worn on property or in buildings occupied by Princeton University at all times, with the following exceptions:

  • when alone in an assigned or reserved room, cubicle or vehicle, or if the individuals present in those spaces are part of one’s household unit;
  • outdoors (per the June 2021 policy update, individuals are not required to wear a face covering outdoors);
  • in one's own living space; however, face coverings are required in all residential common areas;
  • if granted an exemption through the Office of Disability Services due to a medical or physical condition.

Wearing a face covering supplements, but does not replace, social distancing. Unvaccinated faculty, staff, students, and visitors should continue to maintain at least six feet separation indoors, as possible. Vaccinated individuals do not need to maintain six feet of distance indoors. Social distancing is no longer required outdoors.

Please see the University Face Coverings Policy and the Guidance on the Use of Face Coverings for additional information. EHS has also published a Quick Guide to choosing and wearing face coverings, as well as Face Covering FAQs

Other Personal Protective Equipment

In nearly all situations on campus, cloth or disposable face coverings, coupled with frequent hand washing or sanitizing and social distancing, is considered effective in reducing the risk of COVID-19 transmission. Gloves and face shields are generally not needed by individuals practicing all recommended public health precautions. Face shields may not be used in place of a face covering.

Individuals operating shared equipment or frequently interacting with high-touch surfaces may benefit from wearing gloves when frequent hand washing is impractical. Face shields may be recommended for certain types of research or health care interactions. Contact EHS for case-by-case guidance on wearing gloves or face shields.

Personal Protective Equipment and supplies may be ordered through EHS. Certain items are restricted or only available in very limited supplies.

Physical Distancing

Social distancing involves keeping as much space as possible between ourselves and others to reduce the risk of exposure to COVID-19. Unvaccinated faculty, staff, students, and visitors should continue to maintain at least six feet separation indoors, as possible. Vaccinated individuals do not need to maintain six feet of distance indoors.

Social distancing is no longer required outdoors for any members of the campus community.

Consult EHS at ehs@princeton.edu or 609-258-5294 if you have questions about social distancing.

Occupancy limits

People who are fully vaccinated (and have their vaccination records verified in VacStatus) may exceed posted COVID-19 occupancy limits when all of the occupants are also fully vaccinated.

People who are not fully vaccinated may not exceed the occupancy limits set for COVID-19 safety:

  • For offices, instructional, break and study areas: a minimum measure of 100 square feet per person. 
  • For laboratories: a minimum of 125 square-feet per researcher at all times.

Ventilation

Research suggests ventilation plays a secondary role in preventing virus transmission in buildings compared to face coverings, social distancing, hand washing and disinfection protocols. Nevertheless, the University has optimized existing systems to increase ventilation where possible.

Ventilation systems have been reprogrammed to maximize the amount of outside air supplied to building interiors. The amount of outside air supplied is balanced with maintaining reasonable temperature and humidity levels. Systems serving offices and academic spaces are operated in a “flush” mode for two hours pre and post occupancy. Systems serving laboratory spaces are operational 24/7.

Activities in certain spaces on campus may be limited or prohibited due to the lack or a mechanical ventilation system.

See the Guidance on Ventilation Systems and Ventilation FAQs for more information.

Guidance for visitors to campus

With a few exceptions, visitors to the Princeton University campus must have approval from EHS prior to entering a campus building or participating in a University-sponsored event or gathering.

The following groups are considered approved visitors and do not need prior EHS approval:

  • Contractors and vendors providing essential services on campus if retained and approved by University faculty or staff.
  • Family members of students assisting with move-in of belongings.
  • Approved secondary occupants residing with students (e.g. family or dependents).
  • Family and guests of students, staff and faculty living in non-dormitory housing.

All other visitors must have their request submitted by a University-affiliated individual (faculty, staff or student) via the Visitor Request Form. For more information, see Visitor FAQs on the EHS website. 

Meetings, Gatherings and Events

Gatherings, events, and meetings must meet the requirements and follow the process outlined in the Gatherings, Events and Meetings Policy. Outdoor gatherings cannot exceed the current limit permitted by NJ Executive Orders. 

Gatherings of 25 or fewer people indoors and 100 or fewer outdoors do not need approval from the Gatherings Review Team if all participants are otherwise authorized to be on campus. The Gatherings Review Team will review and approve, if appropriate public health measures are in place, requests for gatherings of greater than 25 people indoors and greater than 100 people outdoors.  

Gatherings of any size involving campus visitors must be approved by the Gatherings Review Team. See the FAQs for Gatherings, Meetings and Events for more information. 

Cleaning and Disinfection

Disinfectant spray bottle

Building Services custodians clean and disinfect on a daily basis: classrooms, lobbies, restrooms, and high-contact surfaces such as light switches, handrails, elevator buttons, and doorknobs.

Faculty, staff, and students are responsible for cleaning and disinfecting frequently touched surfaces within their work areas, such as computer keyboards, phones, and desktops. In the case of shared spaces, users must take responsibility for wiping down surfaces and equipment, including tabletops, refrigerator and microwave door handles, coffee makers, and photocopier touch panels. Departments and offices should ensure that an adequate supply of disinfecting wipes are available for this purpose.

For further information, check the EPA approved list of disinfectants for COVID-19 and the EHS guidance for ordering PPE and supplies, as well as FAQs on Cleaning and Disinfection.

General Guidance

The Working Safely on Campus section of the Princeton Playbook provides guidance on other safe practices for campus operations, including information on controlling density, work schedules and guidance for specific areas such as elevators, break rooms and vehicles.