Face Covering Policy

Updated January 4, 2023 at 9:00 a.m.

Face coverings are strongly recommended indoors (in locations where they are not required) for the first two weeks of winter quarter per the University’s COVID-19 Face Covering Policy.

Masks continue to be required in healthcare and clinical facilities, including on shuttles that serve healthcare facilities (read the complete list below).

University strongly recommends wearing a well-fitted, high-quality mask indoors (e.g., KN95, N95, KF94 and surgical masks) to reduce the potential for transmission. High-quality masks are available at no cost in several locations on each campus. University units can purchase high-quality facemasks from the Safe and Clean Storefront. 

Please refer to the University's COVID-19 Face Covering Policylog of changes, and the frequently asked questions below for more information.

UW Medicine medical facility personnel follow the UW Medicine face covering policy. 


Face coverings are required indoors, regardless of vaccination status, for the following:

1.  Healthcare settings and when conducting patient care activities, regardless of vaccination status; including:

  • UW Medicine medical facilities
  • Hall Health Center clinical floors, elevators, stairwells
  • School of Dentistry clinical areas
  • Employee Health Centers
  • COVID-19 testing sites
  • UW Speech and Hearing Clinic
  • Psychiatry and mental health counseling clinical areas
  • Center on Human Development and Disability (CHDD) clinical areas
  • Clinical research settings when conducting clinical activities
  • Health Sciences clinical training classrooms and settings when simulation of patient care activities are conducted
  • Airlift Northwest facilities and aircraft
  • Other settings when patient care/clinical activities are conducted

2.  UW Shuttles serving healthcare facilities: Health Sciences Express, South Lake Union, Fred Hutchinson Cancer Research Center/Seattle Cancer Care Alliance 

3.  Personnel and students who have tested positive for COVID-19 or have been in close contact with someone who tested positive are required to wear a well-fitted, high-quality mask such as a N95, KN95, KF94, or surgical mask until:

  • 10 days after start of symptoms; or
  • 10 days after a positive test (for individuals without symptoms); or
  • 10 days after their last contact with the COVID-19 positive individual.

Refer to the COVID-19 Public Health Requirements and Guidance Flowchart for more information.


In all other indoor settings where face coverings are not required;

Face coverings are recommended when COVID-19 Community Levels are low and strongly recommended when community levels are medium in King and/or Pierce counties, particularly for the following:

  • Individuals who are not up-to-date on COVID-19 vaccines and boosters
  • Immunocompromised individuals or those at high risk for severe illness (particularly when the COVID-19 Community Level is medium or high)
  • Childcare settings
  • Activities that may generate more respiratory aerosols and involve frequent close contact (being within 6 feet of others), such as indoor performing arts
  • Crowded settings especially when there is a decreased ability to distance from others or when in spaces that may not be well ventilated
  • When an EH&S risk assessment of activities determines there is a higher risk of exposure to SARS-CoV-2 (e.g., working with unvaccinated populations)

When you wear a mask, choose a well-fitted, high-quality mask — such as a KN95, KF94, N95 or surgical mask instead of a cloth mask alone— which helps protect you as well as those around you.

Personnel and students should carry a face covering with them while on campus. Free masks can be picked up at a variety of locations on each UW campus.

While not required in most indoor settings, face coverings remain an important way to protect against respiratory illnesses of all kinds, including COVID-19.

Additional information

The University’s face covering requirements and recommendations are informed by high COVID-19 vaccination rates at the UW and the COVID-19 Community Level framework for our broader communities. The COVID-19 Community Level takes into account not only case rates, but also hospitalization rates and hospital capacity for each county.

Face covering requirements will be reassessed if public health indicators change (and/or Community Levels change), cases surge or new variants of concern are identified locally.

Remaining up-to-date with COVID-19 vaccinations and boosters is the most important layer of safety for preventing severe illness. In addition, stay home when sick or symptomatic, and getting tested if you have symptoms or after a close contact exposure.

Frequently asked questions

FAQs for University settings where face coverings are required