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.

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, if able to maintain at least six feet of distance from others outside one’s household (face coverings are highly recommended if one is likely to need to walk around or pass by others, such as on campus walkways);
  • 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. All faculty, staff, students, and visitors should continue to maintain at least six feet separation, as possible.

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. 

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

Oval with Points sculpture, reminding people to keep .68 of its size apart.

Social distancing involves keeping as much space as possible between ourselves and others to reduce the risk of exposure to COVID-19. The CDC currently recommends that we maintain a distance of at least six feet or two meters (about two arms’ lengths) from one another. For this reason, every effort should be made to avoid gathering in groups and to stay away from crowded places.

Consult EHS at ehs@princeton.edu or 609-258-5294 if a work task requires contact closer than six feet for more than 15 cumulative minutes over a 24-hour period.

For multi-person offices and cubicles with no partitions, a minimum of eight feet must be maintained between chairs. Departments and offices should consider utilizing unused spaces such as conference rooms and meeting rooms to distribute workstations more widely.

Occupancy limits

Controlling density is an important part of maintaining social distancing. Throughout campus, density and pyhsical distancing criteria will be applied

When considering a maximum density for offices, instructional, break and study areas, use a minimum measure of 100 square feet per person as a guide. Occupancy will also be limited in dining halls. Physical distancing within laboratories requires a minimum of 125 square-feet per researcher at all times.

Consider using outdoor spaces, especially for dining and breaks.

Study space

Beginning Monday, Feb. 1, undergraduates may study in select lobbies, atria, common spaces and classrooms within these buildings as indicated by signage:

  • East Pyne
  • Friend Center
  • Frist Campus Center
  • Julis Romo Rabinowitz/Louis A. Simpson 
  • Lewis Arts complex
  • Lewis Library
  • McDonnell
  • Robertson

Undergraduates will be able to access these buildings with their PUID cards between 6:45 a.m. and midnight each day. Graduate students may also use these spaces, and their other access to campus buildings remains unchanged.

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 for more information.

Training

COVID-19 awareness training is required for all faculty, staff and students before returning to work or student life on campus. Training modules are available in the Employee Learning Center (login required) under "Covid-19 Awareness" for staff/faculty and laboratory research, and under "COVID-19 For Students" for undergraduate and graduate students.

Both categories are located in the Environmental Health & Safety section of the learning center. 

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.

Meetings, Gatherings and Events

Events, gatherings, and meetings at Princeton University should be hosted remotely. On-campus in-person events are not permitted without explicit approval by the Events Approval Team. Off-campus in-person events sponsored by Princeton University are not permitted.

Gatherings, events, and meetings that include more than five individuals indoors or 15 individuals outdoors 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. 

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.

General Guidance

  • Common spaces and break rooms — Chairs and other furniture should be thinned in common areas and break rooms to discourage congregating. Break room users should be offered other locations (such as outside, weather permitting) to take breaks. Tables and chairs separated and marked for social distancing *may not* be pushed together, and signs and seat straps should not be moved. 
  • Hallways and stairwells — Lingering in hallways and stairwells is discouraged. Submit a Capital Projects Request Form to request directional or social distancing signs for posting in high-traffic areas.
  • Elevators — Limit elevator use and take the stairs when possible. Travel alone; if sharing is unavoidable, occupants should stand in opposite corners, facing away from each other. Avoid touching elevator buttons directly (use gloves or an object like a pen). Promptly wash or sanitize hands after use.
  • Meals — Meals may be consumed in break areas or dining halls providing a minimum of 100 square feet per person and 6 feet of separation between individuals. Consume meals outdoors if weather permits, or, if available, in one’s private office or cubicle.
  • Restrooms — Use every other stall or fixture. If restroom is full, form a line outside, maintaining social distancing. Wash hands with soap and water for at least 20 seconds; use paper towels to dry hands, turn off faucets and pull door handles.
  • TigerTransit — All passengers are required to wear a face covering and maintain physical distancing as much as possible when using public transportation. All boarding and exiting are from the rear of the bus. Avoid touching surfaces and wash or sanitize hands frequently.
  • Mail and Packages — No disinfection or quarantine of mail or packages is required, though hands should be cleaned with soap and water or hand sanitizer after handling. Gloves should be worn if the volume of mail or packages being touched is large.
  • Vehicles — No more than one person should ride in a University vehicle at one time. If it is essential to include a second passenger: wear face coverings, sit as far apart as possible, keep travel time under 10 minutes and lower windows or use vents to being in outside air.