COVID-19 policy and guidance updates


Updated 7/24/23

The University implemented the changes outlined in the message to the UW community from Dr. Geoff Gottlieb, chair of the University Advisory Committee on Communicable Diseases. Key updates include:

  • As of July 19, 2023, face coverings are optional in most indoor locations (with limited exceptions summarized below).
  • As of June 12, 2023, Environmental Health & Safety (EH&S) is no longer responding to cases of COVID-19 illness or performing individual contact tracing in most situations. We will continue to be available to provide consultation, guidance, and outbreak response.
  • The UW-wide COVID-19 Vaccination Policy has been archived; the COVID-19 vaccination requirement has ended for University personnel outside of UW Medicine healthcare facilities and the student Health Sciences Immunization Program (HSIP).

Changes to COVID-19 policy are reflected in the University’s updated COVID-19 Health and Safety Plan and Summary.

UW Medicine medical facility personnel continue to follow UW Medicine specific policies and procedures.

Summary of recent changes to UW COVID-19 guidance and policies

1. Response to COVID-19 Illness: Please refer to the University’s Case and Exposure Guidance for a quick reference to current COVID-19 prevention guidance.

  1. People who test positive are still required to isolate, and are strongly encouraged to notify friends, colleagues, and relatives who may have been exposed. 
  2. UW personnel and students who believe their COVID-19 illness was due to a UW workplace exposure are asked to report it via the UW Online Accident Reporting System (OARS). Otherwise, reporting a positive COVID-19 test result is no longer required.
  3. For guidance after testing positive, exposure, experiencing symptoms, or testing, follow the EH&S COVID-19 Public Health Flowchart that will be maintained on the EH&S Case and Exposure Guidance page

2. Face Coverings: The UW Face Covering Policy was updated on July 19, 2023. In most settings and situations, face coverings are optional. Face coverings are required in the following settings:

  1. For 10 days after COVID-19 illness or COVID-19 exposure; when on-site at a University location after ending COVID-19 isolation, or after being exposed to someone who tested positive.
  2. High risk patient care settings
    1. When caring for patients with confirmed COVID-19, COVID-like signs or symptoms and other respiratory infections.
    2. COVID-19 positive patients and patients with signs or symptoms of respiratory illness are also required to wear a mask if medically able.
    3. Patient care for oncology patients receiving active chemotherapy or radiation.
    4. Healthcare workers returning to work after having a viral infection and while symptoms are still improving.
    5. During a COVID-19 outbreak in a healthcare unit or department; healthcare workers must then wear a face covering or respirator as determined by EH&S.
  3. When riding shuttle services serving Fred Hutchinson Cancer Center

Note that the UW Face Covering Policy does not apply to UW Medicine medical facilities, which have their own policy requirements.

3. COVID-19 vaccination and the UW Vaccination Policy: In May, Dr. Gottlieb announced that the COVID-19 vaccination requirement will be ending for UW students and personnel outside of healthcare, effective June 12. Additional changes made since that time (in coordination with Advisory Committee on Communicable Diseases) include:

a. The UW COVID-19 Vaccination requirement has ended and the policy has been archived. This change was to align with changes to federal and state regulations, including those made by the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services to no longer require employee vaccination. UW Medicine medical facilities and the Health Sciences Student Immunization Program maintain COVID-19 vaccination policies.

b. UW Medicine medical facility personnel are required to follow the UW Medicine COVID-19 vaccination policy.  

c. Students participating in the Health Sciences Immunization Program (HSIP) follow HSIP’s COVID-19 vaccination requirements.

d. For all others, being up-to-date on COVID-19 vaccinations is strongly encouraged.


Please contact or 206.616.3344 with any questions on the above. EH&S staff will continue to be available to respond to questions Monday-Friday, 8am-5pm.   

EH&S wishes you a healthy and successful summer!