Face Covering Policy

Updated September 27, 2023

Face coverings are currently optional in most indoor locations with the exceptions summarized below. Please refer to the University's COVID-19 Face Covering Policy, log of changes, and the frequently asked questions below for more information. The University’s face covering policy is currently being revised.

 UW Medicine medical facility personnel follow the UW Medicine face covering and personal protective equipment policies.

As part of the University’s multi-layered strategy to limit the transmission of COVID-19, face coverings, particularly well-fitting, high-quality masks (e.g., N95, KN95, surgical mask) remain a useful tool in helping to limit the spread of COVID-19. High-quality masks are available at no cost in several locations on each campus.


High quality face masks are currentlyrequiredto be worn in the higher risk patient care settings listed below. UW healthcare facilities will return to required masking in all patient care settings based on respiratory virus transmission (COVID-19, flu, and RSV) metrics. Follow the mask signs posted upon entry to clinics.

 Higher risk patient care settings:

  • When caring for patients with confirmed COVID-19, COVID-like signs and symptoms, and other respiratory infections; healthcare workers are required to use appropriate transmission-based precautions, including masks and respirators as indicated.
  • COVID-19 positive patients and patients with signs or symptoms of respiratory illness are required to wear a mask if medically able. 
  • Patient care for oncology patients receiving active chemotherapy or radiation. 
  • Healthcare workers returning to work after having a viral infection and symptoms are still improving. 
  • During a COVID-19 outbreak in a healthcare unit or department, healthcare workers are required to wear a face covering or respirator as determined by the Environmental Health & Safety Department (EH&S). 
  • When riding shuttles serving Fred Hutchinson Cancer Center


In alignment with CDC and local public health guidance:

  • Masks are strongly recommended when returning to campus after ending COVID-19 isolation, indoors when around others until 10 days have passed from the start of illness.
  • Masks are strongly recommended after a higher risk COVID-19 exposure,  indoors when around others until 10 days have passed from when you were exposed. In addition, follow the instructions for testing and symptom monitoring on the COVID-19 Public Health Flowchart.

Otherwise, face coverings are optional and may be considered for the following:

  • Immunocompromised individuals or those at high risk for severe illness in crowded settings.
  • Healthcare settings when they are not required.

Additional information


Face covering requirements will be reassessed as public health indicators change. Staying up-to-date with COVID-19 vaccinations  is the most important layer of safety for preventing severe illness.

In addition, stay home when sick or experiencing symptoms, and get tested if you have symptoms or have a higher risk exposure. 


Frequently asked questions

FAQs for University settings where face coverings are required