Novel coronavirus information

COVID-19 FAQ for staff and student workers

Table of contents


Health and prevention


What are the symptoms of COVID-19?

COVID-19 symptoms can include:

  • Fever
  • Cough
  • Shortness of breath
  • Sore throat
  • Runny nose
  • Headache
  • Muscle aches
  • Chills
  • Loss of taste or smell
  • Nausea or vomiting
  • Diarrhea

If you have any of these symptoms, stay home and get tested – even if you are vaccinated.

If you test positive, notify the UW COVID-19 Response and Prevention Team through our reporting form. Completing the form is not necessary if your test was taken at Husky Coronavirus Testing. Follow the UW Public Health Requirements and Guidance flowchart to help you recover and to help protect others from getting sick.

UW Medicine medical facility personnel should contact their respective employee health services.

Return to table of contents


What do I do if I feel sick?

If you are sick with any potential illness, you must stay home, regardless of your vaccination status.

COVID-19’s most common symptoms are fever, cough and shortness of breath. If you're symptomatic, take the following steps to protect yourself and your loved ones:

You can also learn more from Public Health – Seattle & King County and the Washington State Department of Health.

Return to table of contents


What should I do if my symptoms are due to seasonal allergies?

Some seasonal allergy symptoms overlap with symptoms of COVID-19. Get tested for COVID-19 if you normally experience seasonal allergies and also have:

  • Any symptoms after a close contact exposure to an individual with COVID-19.
  • Any symptoms that are not typically associated with seasonal allergies, such as fever, chills, body aches, loss of taste or smell, nausea, vomiting or diarrhea.
  • Any new symptoms you don’t normally experience with seasonal allergies.
  • Allergy symptoms when you normally would not have them.
  • Allergy symptoms that don’t respond to your usual allergy medications.

If you have frequent, persistent seasonal allergy symptoms, you may want to consider getting tested regularly (once per week, for example). A PCR test is more sensitive than a rapid antigen self-test and is recommended to rule out a COVID-19 infection.

Wear a high-quality, well-fitted facemask indoors, especially around other people, when you are experiencing symptoms even if they may be due to seasonal allergies.

Some individuals choose to share information about their seasonal allergy symptoms and testing plan with their supervisor or instructor; however, personnel and students are not required or expected to share any personal medical information.

Follow the COVID-19 Public Health Guidance and Requirements Flowchart if you have COVID-19 symptoms, close contact exposure or test positive for COVID-19. Report positive test results to the UW COVID-19 Response and Prevention Team.

Return to table of contents


I want to get tested for COVID-19. Where can I go?

The following COVID-19 testing options are provided at no cost to you:

View a comparison of COVID-19 test kits to know when you should get a PCR or antigen (rapid) test.

UW Medicine medical facility personnel should contact their respective employee health services.

Multilingual information about COVID-19 testing options is available from the Washington State Department of Health.

Return to table of contents


What are the differences between types of COVID-19 tests?

Visit the COVID-19 Tests page for information about the types of diagnostic tests, and view a comparison of COVID-19 tests to know when to get a PCR or antigen (rapid) test.

Return to table of contents


Who should I notify if I have confirmed or suspected COVID-19?

Notify the  COVID-19 Response and Prevention Team in the UW Environmental Health & Safety Department (EH&S), regardless of your vaccination status, when you test positive for COVID-19 or a healthcare provider suspects you have COVID-19, even if you are not experiencing any symptoms. Follow the instructions provided to you, as well as the UW quarantine and isolation flowchart.

UW Medicine medical facility personnel should notify their respective employee health center.

Return to table of contents


How can I best care for myself and protect others if I have confirmed or suspected COVID-19?

If you have confirmed or suspected COVID-19, stay home and self-isolate, regardless of your vaccination status and whether or not you have symptoms.

Read the guidance on self-isolation, including getting tested and when you can resume normal activities.

View our quarantine and isolation flowchart for a detailed visual guide to these requirements.

Return to table of contents


What treatments are currently available for people with COVID-19?

UW Medicine currently offers several treatments for COVID-19 patients, as well as a new therapy that is used to prevent infection in people who are at higher risk for severe illness.

  • Evusheld is a monoclonal antibody therapy for pre-exposure prevention. UW Medicine has launched a self-attestation process for eligible patients to request an appointment for Evushield.
  • The monoclonal antibody Bebtelovimab and the oral antivirals Paxlovid and Molnupiravir are available for patients who have contracted COVID-19 and who are at higher risk of severe illness. To be effective, antiviral medications must be started within five days of the start of symptoms.

Consult with your health-care provider about whether these options are right for you, or use this federal website to find pharmacies that offer both tests and antiviral medications.

Return to table of contents


I may have been exposed to COVID-19. What should I do?

If you were in  close contact  with an individual  who tested positive for COVID-19, follow the instructions on the  UW Public Health Requirements and Guidance flowchart.

Stay home and do not go to work or class,  even if you aren’t experiencing symptoms, if:

  • You are  not up to date  on the CDC's recommended  COVID-19 vaccination s,  and/or
  • You have  not  tested positive for COVID-19 in the past 90 days

If you are sick or experiencing any symptoms of COVID-19, you must stay home regardless of your vaccination status. Follow the guidance in the FAQ "What do I do if I feel sick?"

Read the additional quarantine and isolation guidance for close contacts, including when to get tested and when you can resume normal activities.

UW Medicine medical facility personnel should contact their respective employee health center.

Return to table of contents


What should I do if someone in my workplace or classroom has symptoms?

If you are concerned about an individual’s symptoms, wearing a high-quality, well-fitted facemask around them provides protection. Please respect the privacy of others and avoid questioning them about their symptoms or drawing attention to them in front of others. You can also discuss your concerns with their supervisor or instructor.

A supervisor may do one or more of the following:

  • Ask the employee to perform a self-assessment of their symptoms to determine whether they are experiencing symptoms of COVID-19 that are not attributable to another health condition.
  • Provide a high-quality, well-fitted facemask for the employee to wear while they are experiencing symptoms if the symptoms are attributable to another health condition and it does not interfere with job-required PPE. (UW units can purchase high-quality N95, KN95 and surgical facemasks from the Safe and Clean Storefront.)
  • Ask the individual to leave the workplace if the individual is unable to attribute their symptoms to another health condition. Refer the employee to the University’s COVID-19 Public Health Guidance and Requirements Flowchart for detailed information on when it is safe to return to on-site work.
  • Consult with UWHR or the Office of Academic Personnel as needed.

An instructor may do one or more of the following:

  • Invite the student to perform a self-assessment of their symptoms to determine whether they are experiencing symptoms of COVID-19 that are not attributable to another health condition.
  • Invite the student to get tested for COVID-19. We ask that instructors work with students awaiting test results so they may continue to access course content and assignments.
  • Invite the student to wear a high-quality, well-fitted facemask while they are experiencing symptoms, which are available for free in several locations on each campus.
  • Ask the student to leave the classroom if the individual is unable to attribute their symptoms to another health condition. Refer the student to the University’s COVID-19 Public Health Guidance and Requirements Flowchart for detailed information on when it is safe to return to class.

The supervisor or instructor may not do any of the following:

  • Do not ask the individual to provide any specific information about their symptoms, health condition(s) or personal medical information.
  • Do not ask the individual to provide a COVID-19 test result, proof a test occurred or a doctor’s note.
  • Do not require a facemask to be worn where it is not required, or require a facemask to be worn in place of job-required PPE.
  • Do not retaliate against the individual for choosing to wear (or not wear) a facemask where it’s not required. The individual’s decision must have no bearing on evaluation of their academic or work performance or working/learning conditions.

Return to table of contents


Where can I get vaccinated?

All UW students and personnel must be vaccinated against COVID-19 to protect everyone’s health and safety. UW Medicine offers vaccinations at multiple locations, or you can use the Washington Vaccine Locator to find a vaccine provider.

Return to table of contents


Am I eligible for a vaccine booster shot?

COVID-19 vaccine booster shots are available for anyone in the United States age 12 and over who received the Pfizer-BioNTech, Moderna or Johnson & Johnson vaccines. People age 18 and over can receive another dose of the vaccine they received previously, or a booster shot of a different vaccine. People age 12-17 can only receive the Pfizer-BioNTech vaccine as a booster. UW Medicine offers vaccinations at multiple locations, or you can use the Washington Vaccine Locator to find a vaccine provider.

Return to table of contents


Am I up to date on my COVID-19 vaccinations?

Check the CDC's Stay Up to Date with Your COVID-19 Vaccines page to find out if you are up-to-date on your COVID-19 vaccinations. UW Medicine offers vaccinations at multiple locations, or you can use the Washington Vaccine Locator to find a vaccine provider.

Return to table of contents


How the UW responds


Does the UW require vaccinations?

In order to protect the health of our community, the UW requires all students and personnel to be vaccinated against COVID-19, with certain exemptions allowed. For students, this is similar to our existing tri-campus immunization requirement. Please review the vaccination requirement page for more information. UW Medicine personnel should continue to follow UW Medicine policies and procedures.

Return to table of contents


How is the UW testing for coronavirus on campus?

The Husky Coronavirus Testing program conducts testing to detect individual cases in the community to mitigate the potential for outbreaks to occur.

Anyone who tests positive for COVID-19 receives guidance from the COVID-19 Response and Prevention Teamin the UW Environmental Health & Safety Department regarding care, self-isolation and contact tracing.

Find out more about Husky Coronavirus Testing.

Return to table of contents


What are the testing requirements for unvaccinated students?

For the most up-to-date information on the UW's vaccination policy and testing requirements for those with vaccine exemptions, please visit our COVID-19 Vaccination Requirement page.

Return to table of contents


What does the UW do when a member of our community has confirmed COVID-19?

When the University is notified of a student or UW personnel with suspected or confirmed COVID-19, the following steps are taken which are outlined on the UW COVID-19 case response page.

We respond to COVID-19-positive individuals within 24 hours of notification to EH&S. We gather information from the COVID-19-positive individual to help us understand the period of transmission and who may have been at risk for exposure.

The COVID-19 Response and Prevention Team provides the individual with:

  • Instructions for self-isolation and precautions for preventing the spread of COVID-19
  • A follow-up survey before the end of the isolation period to check on symptoms

Return to table of contents


How does the UW follow up with close contacts of a person who tested positive for COVID-19?

When a student or employee notifies the University about their positive test result, the UW COVID-19 Response and Prevention Team works with them to reduce the risk of other people getting sick.

The team asks the person who tested positive to identify the UW locations they visited and the UW-affiliated people they had close contact with up to 48 hours before symptoms began (or 48 hours before the date of their COVID-19 test if they have no symptoms).

If you’re notified that you may have been in close contact with someone who tested positive for COVID-19, the UW COVID-19 Response and Prevention Team will help you understand what you need to do, such as staying home and away from other people, monitoring your health for 14 days and getting a COVID-19 test.

Read more about how the UW responds to cases of COVID-19.

Return to table of contents


How does the UW clean, disinfect and ventilate facilities?

The UW Environmental Health & Safety Department has a COVID-19 Cleaning and Disinfection Protocol for campus partners that comply with guidelines from the Washington State Department of Labor and Industries and the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) for preventing the spread of coronavirus. The University’s custodial cleaning program follows this protocol to regularly clean shared spaces, such as public and common areas, restrooms, and break rooms, and regular cleaning and disinfection of high-touch surfaces. In some areas, individual users are also be responsible for regularly cleaning and disinfecting equipment/items they share.

In preparation for greater numbers of students and personnel returning to in-person learning and work in autumn 2021, UW Facilities and EH&S conducted significant testing and upgrades of ventilation systems in classrooms and other campus buildings. The University has also purchased over two thousand air purifiers to install as needed in classrooms on the Bothell, Seattle and Tacoma campuses.

When a person diagnosed with COVID-19 is known to have been on campus, the specific locations where the individual spent time while potentially infectious are evaluated for cleaning and disinfection, in accordance with state and federal guidelines.

Additional information regarding cleaning and disinfection on the Seattle campus is available from UW Facilities and Housing & Food Services. EH&S has published details on ventilation standards, and clinical and laboratory spaces operate under the ventilation standards specific to the needs of those environments. UW Facilities has produced an overview of the measures undertaken to improve ventilation in campus buildings.

Return to table of contents


What resources does the UW offer for combating stigmatization and bias related to the pandemic?

There is no connection between race, ethnicity or nationality and COVID-19.

As President Ana Mari Cauce wrote, "Our common humanity calls on us now to offer support, empathy and understanding to those most affected by this virus ... All of us, as individuals and as a community, are responsible for treating each other with kindness and empathy. We are best equipped to deal with any threat to health when we work together."

Stigma doesn’t fight the illness, but it does hurt innocent people. Public Health – Seattle & King County has anti-stigma resources. You can report bias or discrimination in our University community using the appropriate UW bias reporting tool:

Return to table of contents


What would cause the UW to change the course of its COVID-19 response?

In March 2020, the UW was the first university in the country to move to remote courses. In autumn 2021, we were one of the last to return to largely in-person instruction. Those decisions, along with the many others made along the way, were guided by some of the world’s top health experts and made with health and well-being as our priorities.

No single metric can accurately capture a complex public health situation. We will continue to engage in science- and evidence-based decision making, relying on the expertise of our UW, local and state experts to guide us. Several scenarios are considered when evaluating a return to largely remote instruction and/or operations, including a major uptick in on-campus transmissions or positivity rates; greatly diminished capacity in our area hospitals; major disruptions in our K-12 schools or transportation systems; or the imposition of state or local restrictions, such as distancing requirements or “stay at home” orders.

Because of the evolving nature of the pandemic, public health measures may be relaxed or reinstated depending on the community risk level of COVID-19 our area is experiencing.

Return to table of contents


Campus operations


Where are masks required at the UW?

Masks are optional inside most University facilities as of March 28, though the University strongly recommends that you wear a face mask for the first two weeks of spring quarter. Anyone who wishes to wear a mask throughout the quarter is encouraged and welcome to do so.

All University units must follow the current UW COVID-19 Face Covering Policy.

UW Medicine clinical personnel should continue to follow UW Medicine policies.

Return to table of contents


Where can I pick up free, high-quality masks on campus?

As of Jan. 31, the University of Washington has expanded distribution of high-quality masks to the University community. These include KN95, KF94, N95 and surgical masks, all of which have been approved by UW Environmental Health & Safety.

Masks will be available to UW students and personnel at no charge on a first-come, first-served basis.

Seattle campus

UW Bothell

  • KN95s are being distributed directly to students and personnel
  • Surgical masks are available in dispensers placed at building entrances

UW Tacoma

The University has purchased 20,000 KN95 masks for this initial distribution and has another 70,000 on order. Additional supplies will be ordered as necessary based on demand and additional surgical masks will be distributed if supplies of KN95, KF94, and/or N95 masks run low.

UW units needing supplies of masks should purchase those and other PPE from the UW Clean and Safe Storefront via a budget number. The locations above are intended to supply masks for individual use only and are not stocked to supply masks in bulk for other units, labs, or classrooms.

The UW has distributed more than 300,000 surgical masks over the course of the pandemic. This is in addition to roughly 9,000 KN95 masks, large quantities of N95s and other job-specific PPE, and the mailing of two cloth face coverings to UW students in advance of autumn quarter 2020.

Return to table of contents


What classes are being offered in-person this quarter?

As of Jan. 31, the majority of courses and experiences this spring are expected to be offered in-person. Students can refer to Canvas, communications from instructors, and their campus time schedule for details on spring quarter plans.

Return to table of contents


What current health and safety measures are being taken for campus events?

Health and safety measures for on-campus events vary depending on the event type, location, organizer and sponsors. If you’re organizing an event, you are required to follow the COVID-19 Prevention Guidelines for In-Person Events.

Return to table of contents


What medical and disability accommodations are available for students and personnel?

We recognize that some students and personnel have documented medical conditions that place them at higher risk for complications from COVID-19. Requests for accommodations related to COVID-19 will be handled in the same manner as for other medical conditions. Students should request accommodations from Disability Resources for Students at the Bothell, Seattle, or Tacoma campuses. Faculty, academic personnel and staff should request accommodations through the Disability Services Office.

Return to table of contents


Where can I find information about building hours on campus?

Most UW campus buildings will remain accessible only to UW students, faculty and staff for spring quarter. Please check directly with the building or service that you wish to visit to find their opening hours and policies. Please visit this page for details about each campus' building policies.

Return to table of contents


When are UW Libraries open?

Each library has different hours, so be sure to check the UW Libraries hours page prior to visiting.

Return to table of contents


What are the current hours for campus dining facilities?

For the most up-to-date details on campus dining options, please visit the Housing & Food Services service and operations updates page.

Return to table of contents


When is the IMA open?

The IMA is now open to current UW students, as well as UW employees, UW retirees, Plus Ones, UWAA Alumni (eligibility is limited) and Affiliates (eligible affiliates only) with IMA quarterly or annual memberships. The UW is also planning for ways to make all of our fitness classes, intramurals and other activities available in hybrid models so you can stay active no matter how the pandemic evolves.

For the most up-to-date information on IMA facilities, please visit the IMA COVID-19 Guidelines page on their website.
Return to table of contents


When are in-person campus tours being offered?

Campus tours and in-person events are back! Bookmark the Office of Admissions visits page for future updates — and while you’re there, watch an admission information session or download our guide to take a self-guided tour whenever it’s convenient for you to visit campus.

Return to table of contents

Staff and Student Worker FAQs


(Effective 3/28/22) Can supervisors request or require employees to wear a mask in the workplace? Can I request that other individuals wear a mask?

We encourage you to continue wearing a well-fitting, high-quality mask if you wish to do so, whether for your own comfort or as a courtesy to others around you. Anyone may ask that their colleagues wear a mask while interacting or sharing space with them.

However, supervisors cannot require masks in the workplace, unless they are in an area where masks are specifically required by law or the UW Face Covering Policy, such as healthcare facilities or public transportation, or in locations or situations where masks or other PPE are required for reasons other than COVID-19.

Further, we ask supervisors to be mindful of their position of power in the workplace when requesting that personnel wear masks. It is important to be clear that masks are optional, and that a worker’s decision to wear a mask or not will have no bearing on their performance reviews or working conditions.

When interacting with others in the University community, you can also ask that they wear a mask, but they are not required to wear one unless in one of the specific areas or situations mentioned above.

Please remember that people need to or choose to wear — or not wear — masks for a wide range of reasons. Thank you for respecting those needs and choices.

Return to table of contents


Can I ask other people at the UW about their vaccination status?

No. An individual’s vaccination status is private and confidential information. It is not appropriate to ask UW personnel or students about their vaccination status in the classroom or the workplace unless you have an authorized role within the vaccination verification effort. Read more information on the UW COVID-19 Vaccination Policy webpage.

Return to table of contents


How can I review my vaccine verification status in Workday?

  1. Log into Workday from the link at the top of the ISC website.
  2. In Workday, select the Cloud icon in the upper right corner, then select the "View Profile" button.
  3. On the left side of the screen, select "Job."
  4. Under the COVID-19 Vaccinate Validation Form heading, review the "Vaccination Validated?" field:
    • If "Yes" appears: Your department has verified your vaccination status.
    • If "No" appears: Your vaccination has not yet been verified in Workday; please reach out to your manager for guidance

Return to table of contents


Where can I find current information about remote work policies?

In May, the Board of Deans and Chancellors, President’s Cabinet, and HR partners and administrators received telework guidance for staff covering the timeframe after Sept. 10, 2021, accompanied by new UWHR resources on the return to onsite work and telework.

Academic instructors can also find resources on the Teaching Remotely site, including new information about preparing for autumn quarter 2021.

Return to table of contents


Where can I find information about childcare resources?

UW Human Resources maintains information about childcare options and resources during the COVID-19 pandemic.

Eligible staff can take a family care emergency absence when regularly scheduled care plans are interrupted due to a school, camp, facility closure and/or the unexpected absence of a care provider. Family care emergencies apply to both child and elder care situations.

Return to table of contents


What technology can I use to work remotely?

Staff and student workers can prepare for hybrid work schedules by becoming familiar with the technology tools that make it possible to work from home. UW Information Technology offers free tools for videoconferencing, chat, collaboration, online storage, and more. Find out what tools you can use in this helpful tech guide for working remotely.

Return to table of contents


When can I use accrued sick time off?

If you are sick, stay home. Staff and student workers should continue to follow their unit’s procedure for requesting sick time off and can find more information on the following webpages about sick time for regular contract covered, classified, and professional staff and for temporary and student hourly employees.

Additionally, President Cauce has authorized expanded use of sick time off to cover situations that may be unique to the risks posed by COVID-19. For example, if your duties cannot be performed remotely and you have a significant health concern that makes you feel unsafe in the workplace. Sick time off can also be used if you have had direct exposure to COVID-19 and you have been directed to complete a 14-day self-isolation. Your HR consultant is available to offer guidance.

Return to table of contents


Are there restrictions on travel by UW employees?

International travel

The UW Office of Global Affairs has issued revised rules for official international travel, effective June 15, 2021. “Official travel” applies to any trip that involves the University in any way (e.g., through funding, salary, credits, support, sponsorship), for research, study abroad, conferences, events or meetings.

  • For Department of State Level 1, Level 2 and Level 3 destinations: official travel is approved for faculty, other academic personnel, and staff, provided that you register your trip with UW Global Travel Security.
  • For Department of State Level 4 destinations: you must complete a travel waiver request that requires review and official approval, in addition to the required travel registration.
  • Regardless of destination, all official international travel must be registered with UW Global Travel Security (GTS). 
  • Do not travel internationally unless you are fully vaccinated.
  • Review and follow applicable travel warnings and CDC COVID-19 international travel guidance.

Domestic travel

Delay travel until you are fully vaccinated. For more information, and additional guidance, see the CDC domestic travel website.

UW Medicine and School of Dentistry personnel

The work-related travel restriction for UW Medicine and School of Dentistry employees that was originally implemented in early January was lifted effective Jan. 31, 2022. There are no travel-related restrictions currently in place.

Return to table of contents