Face Covering Policy

Updated August 16, 2023

Face coverings are 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. 

When you wear a mask, choose a well-fitted, high-quality mask (e.g., KN95, N95,  surgical mask) to reduce the potential for transmission. High-quality masks are available at no cost in several locations on each campus.  

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 are required to be worn at the University of Washington in the following settings: 

1.  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 also 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 must then wear a face covering or respirator as determined by Environmental Health & Safety. 

2.  When riding shuttles serving Fred Hutchinson Cancer Center

3.  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.  A well-fitted, high-quality mask such as an N95, KN95, or surgical mask is required until 10 days after start of symptoms, 10 days after positive test (with no symptoms), or 10 days after their last contact with the COVID-19 positive individual as indicated on the COVID-19 Public Health Flowchart. Refer to the COVID-19 Public Health Flowchart for more information


Face coverings are recommended, particularly for the following: 

  • Immunocompromised individuals or those at high risk for severe illness. 
  • Activities that may generate more respiratory aerosols and involve frequent close contact (being within 6 feet of others), such as indoor performing arts. 
  • Healthcare settings
  • Crowded settings especially when there is a decreased ability to distance from others

Additional information

Face covering requirements will be reassessed if public health indicators change. 

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 an exposure. 

Frequently asked questions

FAQs for University settings where face coverings are required