FAQs for COVID-19 Health and Safety

Updated August 4, 2021

CLEANING AND DISINFECTION

What cleaning protocols are in place for offices, classrooms, and other campus spaces?

Building Services custodians, on a daily basis, clean and disinfect classrooms, lobbies, atriums and high-contact public surfaces such as light switches, handrails, elevator buttons and doorknobs.

How often are bathrooms cleaned?

Building Services custodians clean all bathrooms across campus at least once per day.

What do Building Services custodians clean and what is my department or I expected to clean?

Building Services custodians clean and disinfect restrooms and high-contact surfaces in public spaces. Individuals should clean and disinfect frequently touched items in their own work area on a daily basis, including computer and peripherals, doorknobs and handles, light switches, phones, desks, tools and other shared equipment.

In the case of shared departmental spaces such as break rooms, users must take responsibility for wiping down surfaces and equipment, including tabletops, refrigerator and microwave door handles, coffee makers, and photo copier touch panels.

Where do I get cleaning supplies?

If you need disinfectant wipes or other cleaning supplies for your work area, request a supply from your supervisor. Supervisors may contact ehs@princeton.edu if assistance is needed to obtain supplies.

What products are effective for disinfection of the COVID-19 virus?

A number of chemical products are anticipated to be effective at inactivating the COVID-19 virus, based upon previous testing of the disinfectant against similar viruses.  The Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) maintains the criteria used to assess the effectiveness of disinfectants and maintains a list of products and conditions of use (such as contact time) that are anticipated to be effective against the COVID-19 virus.  These products are found under the EPA List N: https://www.epa.gov/pesticide-registration/list-n-disinfectants-use-against-sars-cov-2-covid-19

Due to interest in this subject, the EPA has recently launched an interactive version of List N to make it easier to search. https://cfpub.epa.gov/giwiz/disinfectants/index.cfm

A number of manufacturers are actively testing their products the verify their product’s effectiveness by directly testing against the COVID-19 virus.  More information will be provided once additional information is available on disinfectants verified against COVID-19.

Is it okay to use disinfectant wipes intended for surfaces  to clean my hands?

Unless clearly indicated in the instructions provided by the manufacturer, most cleaning products (including disinfecting wipes) designed for use on hard surfaces should not be used to sanitize your hands.  These products are often formulated with harsher chemicals than similar sanitizing wipe products intended for use on a person and may result in harm, such skin injury or irritation and serious injury to the eye if remaining residue is accidentally wiped into the eyes.

 

DAILY SYMPTOM CHECK

Who has to complete the symptom check?

All faculty, researchers, staff, graduate students, and undergraduate students who are not fully vaccinated (two weeks have passed since the final dose of the vaccine) are required to complete the Daily Symptom Check before entering any University building, other than their University residence, for any amount of time.

Faculty, staff, researchers, and students who are not fully vaccinated and live off-campus must use the Daily Symptom check before coming to campus. Students who are not fully vaccinated and live in University housing must use the Daily Symptom Check before leaving their residence to enter any University building.

If I am fully vaccinated, confirmed in VacStatus (faculty and staff) or MyUHS (students), do I still need to stay away from campus if I have COVID-19 symptoms?

While you do not have to complete the Daily Symptom Check if you are fully vaccinated, you still must stay away from campus (other than your residence) if you are exhibiting symptoms of COVID-19 and should consider being tested. Even individuals who are vaccinated could still become infected with COVID-19, although the symptoms are likely to be mild.

If I am not fully vaccinated and I am getting tested twice a week, do I have to complete the symptom check?

Yes. Faculty, staff and students who are not fully vaccinated and are enrolled in the asymptomatic testing program must still complete the symptom check before reporting to campus. The asymptomatic testing program is designed to identify those infected with the virus that causes Covid-19 before symptoms occur. It is only a “snapshot in time.”

The symptom check is to ensure that anyone already exhibiting symptoms do not come to campus. It is a means to engage with one’s own health on a daily basis.

Do I have to complete the symptom check if I am not scheduled to be on campus that day?

No, you only have to complete the symptom check if you are intending to report to campus for any duration of time.

If someone has a chronic cough or shortness of breath, will they be told not to come in?

For certain symptoms, the app and paper form will ask clarifying questions that will not automatically exclude someone from coming in. For example, an individual who answers “Yes” to having a cough will be prompted with a second question: Is your cough related to another confirmed condition, for which you are being treated (i.e., sinusitis, strep throat, allergies or asthma). Answering “Yes” to this second question will not lead to being advised not to come into work.

Do employees have to send the results to their supervisor?

It is the department’s discretion on whether or not employees should send their notice of completion to their supervisor. It’s important to note, even if an employee sends the results, the email will only indicate if an employee is permitted to come to campus or advised to stay home; it will not share the actual answers to the health questions.

What happens once I submit results?

After answering the health questions, a green checkmark indicates that individuals are permitted to come to work on site or enter University buildings. A red circle indicates the need to stay home. If advised to stay home that day, individuals are expected to follow their departmental procedures to report their absence. Messages and instructions for undergraduates, graduate students, and faculty and staff are customized for the constituency.

There is no “processing” or “approval” that comes after submitting their results.

What if I have questions about managing my absence?

For questions about managing absences, contact HR at hr@princeton.edu or the Office of the Dean of the Faculty at dof@Princeton.edu.

Do contractors and vendors need to complete the daily symptom check?

No, only University faculty and staff must complete the University's daily symptom check. However, contractor and vendor employees will need to comply with their employers’ requirements and the University requirements for contractors and vendors.

What if an employee or student does not answer truthfully, either by denying or dismissing symptoms, or by fabricating them?

All employees and students are expected and entrusted to answer truthfully. Failure to do so is considered a serious violation of University communicable disease policy and is subject to discipline.

What do I do if I get an error on the TigerSafe App that says "Error Loading Form; there was a problem loading this form. It may have been deleted."

It's likely that your TigerSafe App is not up to date and is pointing to a disabled link. To update the app, scroll to the bottom of the home screen in TigerSafe and select "Updates Available." The Daily Symptom Check button will then point to the newest version of the form.

I have been told to suspend my participating in the asymptomatic testing program for 90 days. Do I still have to complete the daily symptom check?

Yes. Faculty, staff, researchers, and students must complete a daily symptom check when accessing non-residential campus buildings, regardless of participation in the asymptomatic testing program.

I worked past midnight and got an email that I had not completed the daily symptom check. What does that mean?

The daily symptom check must be completed within the same 12AM to 11:59PM timeframe as when someone accesses a non-residential campus building. For those who complete the symptom check late in the day and access a campus building after midnight, you will need to complete it again after midnight if you access a campus building.

I feel fine. Can I just reply to the reminder email that I have no symptoms?

No. Please do not reply to the reminder email with any health information. The daily symptom check cannot be completed on your behalf and you risk being found non-compliant if you do not complete the daily symptom check as required.

 

FACE COVERINGS

Do I have to wear a face covering when on campus? 

As of August 11, 2021, all faculty, staff, and students, regardless of vaccination status, must wear a face covering indoors in buildings occupied by the University. Face coverings are also required on TigerTransit buses. Face coverings are not required outdoors, regardless of vaccination status.

See the Guidance on Face Coverings for more information.

May I choose to wear a face covering, even where it is not required?

Yes, please feel free to wear a face covering if that is your preference. The University encourages a culture of non-judgment and no assumptions regarding mask-wearing.

My prescription glasses fog up when I wear a face covering. What can I do?

If your glasses are fogging up when you wear a face covering, it is likely that there is too much of a gap around the nose. Here are a few ways to manage this:

  • Wear a face covering that has an adjustable wire at the bridge of the nose. Ensure that the material fits snugly around the nose.
  • Rest your glasses over your face covering to help block the air from escaping, thus preventing fogging. 
  • Use an anti-fogging eye glass/safety glass cleaning wipe.  In addition to helping to remove smudges on your glasses, these wipes deposit a thin film that helps to prevent fogging.  If you do not have anti-fogging wipes, try baby shampoo*, glycerine soap*, dishwashing detergent*, or a small amount of toothpaste* on a soft cloth to clean your glasses. Shake off the excess and let them air dry. This technique leaves a thin film that reduces surface tension that builds up from your breath, causing fogging.

* If one of the alternatives to anti-fogging wipes are used, avoid the use of fragranced materials and materials claiming superlative cleaning properties (grease cutting, whitening, etc) as these may contain additives that can be irritating or harmful to your eyes and skin. 

I need to wear safety glasses and they fog up when I wear a face covering. What can I do?

By forming a tight seal across the nose and under your eyes, Safety goggles are far less likely to fog up than safety glasses. Consider wearing goggles instead. Alternatively, follow the guidance above for prescription glasses. 

Is a disposable mask safer than a cloth face covering?

No. In most cases, the disposable masks intended to be used as a face covering for infectious disease prevention are as effective or less effective than a cloth face covering. A cloth face covering that has multiple layers of tightly woven fabric is what the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention currently recommends.

Regarding cleanliness of the mask, safety depends on cleaning. Think of a paper plate compared to a reusable plate. The paper plate is effective for a while, but usually needs to be replaced after a single use. A ceramic plate is useful as long as you are cleaning it after use.

How and how often should I clean my face cloth face covering?

Wash your face covering after each day or when it becomes soiled. 

  • Use a washing machine and regular detergent, warm or hot water. You can wash face coverings with your other laundry. Air dry or place in the dryer. Some elastic can be damaged over time in the dryer, so check the elastic after drying.
  • Wash by hand with dish detergent or castile soap and warm or hot water. Air dry.
     

GATHERINGS, EVENTS, AND MEETINGS

What is the status of the Policy on Gatherings, Events, and Meetings?

As of July 4, 2021, the Policy on Gatherings, Events, and Meetings is no longer in effect. In its place is Guidance on Gatherings, Events, and Conferences

Is there a review and approval process for indoor or outdoor gatherings of any size?

No. As of July 4, 2021, neither indoor or outdoor meetings of any size require review and approval by the Gatherings Review Team.

What do I have to do if I want to host meeting attended only by University faculty, staff, and/or students?

See the Guidance on Gatherings, Events, and Conferences. Organizers are responsible for ensuring that all attendees follow public health guidance. Schedule the space using the EMS system. Keep a record of attendance for at least two weeks.

May I resume staff or group meetings indoors?

Yes. Be sure to follow the latest University public health guidance.

May University-hosted events be open to the public?

Religious services, varsity and recreational athletic events, arts performances, and lectures are permitted to be open to the general public. See the Guidance on Gatherings, Events, and Conferences for more information. 

May I host a conference that includes attendees that are not members of the Princeton University community (faculty, staff, students)?

University-hosted conferences and meetings may include visitors. Pre-registration is requiredSee the Guidance on Gatherings, Events, and Conferences for more information. 

Do I need to approve each visitor attending a conference or public event?

No. The Visitor Policy considers individuals attending a University-hosted conference or public event to be pre-approved. The host department must require self-attestation of vaccination.

Are masks or social distancing required for indoor events?

As of August 11, 2021, masks are required indoors for all individuals. The University will not monitor this, and the host is responsible for explaining this to the attendees. Social distancing is not required.

Do I need to take attendance at the meetings or events? If so, how long do I need to maintain the list?

Yes. You need to maintain a list of attendees for at least two weeks after the event to be able to assist in contact tracing if someone at the event is diagnosed with COVID-19. A printable PDF for listing attendees is availabele on the EHS website. 

Is food allowed at gatherings? If so, is there a need for social distancing during meals? May I use an outside caterer?

Yes, food is allowed and social distancing is not required. You may use any outside vendor, but if there will be servers, please use Campus Dining catering services.

Can I bring my children to an indoor musical performance on Princeton’s campus?

The University is currently not allowing children under the age of 12 to enter campus buildings. Please check the Visitor Policy on a regular basis as we are continually reviewing our COVID-19 public health guidance.

 

HAND WASHING AND HAND SANITIZERS

What is the effective way to wash my hands?

Wash your hands with soap and water for at least 20 seconds and use a paper towel to dry.

  1. Have a paper towel ready.
  2. Turn on the tap. Use warm or tepid water.
  3. Wet your hands.
  4. Apply soap.
  5. Rub your hands together for at least 20 seconds, washing all surfaces of your hands.
  6. Rinse well.
  7. Use a paper towel to turn off the tap.
  8. Dry your hands. 
  9. Use a paper towel to open the door and turn off the lights.

What is the effective way to use hand sanitizer?

The manufacturer will provide instructions on the container describing the recommended use of the hand sanitizer in order to achieve effects matching those demonstrated when the product was originally tested. Most hand sanitizers require thoroughly wetting the surface of your hands with the hand sanitizer as well as distributing the sanitizer by rubbing/kneading hands together. Some products will indicate the need to allow the hand sanitizer to dry, whereas others will indicate that is it acceptable to wipe off excess after waiting an indicated period of time.

Most hand sanitizers are intended only for external use and limited for use on the hands. Use of hand sanitizers on other areas of skin may result in irritation or injury. Many hand sanitizers contain components that will be toxic or cause injury if taken internally.

Which is better - hand sanitizer or washing with soap and water?

The best way to prevent the spread of infections and decrease the risk of getting sick is by washing your hands with plain soap and water, advises the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). Washing hands often with soap and water for at least 20 seconds is essential, especially after going to the bathroom; before eating; and after coughing, sneezing, or blowing one’s nose. If soap and water are not available, CDC recommends consumers use an alcohol-based hand sanitizer that contains at least 60% ethanol.

Is it okay to use an electronic hand dryer?

Both the Centers for Disease Control (CDC) and the World Health Organization (WHO) continue to include the use of warm air dryers as a means for drying hands after washing them. There have been recent studies that suggest the potential for aerosols and fine droplets to be generated during hand drying using an electronic/warm air dryer; however, the risk of this process contributing to the spread of COVID-19 virus is minimal when this process follows an effective hand cleaning. 

Are all hand sanitizers the same? If not, which are effective against the virus that causes COVID-19?

Alcohol-based hand sanitizers with at least 60% ethanol or isopropyl alcohol are most effective aganst COVID-19. Hand sanitizers with the active ingredient of benzalkonium chloride are not as effective. Those with any other material listed as the active ingredient are not recommended by the CDC or the FDA for COVID-19.

Is it okay to clean my hands with disinfectant wipes intended for surfaces?

Unless clearly indicated in the instructions provided by the manufacturer, most cleaning products (including disinfecting wipes) designed for use on hard surfaces should not be used to sanitize your hands.  These products are often formulated with harsher chemicals than similar sanitizing wipe products intended for use on a person and may result in harm, such skin injury or irritation and serious injury to the eye if remaining residue is accidentally wiped into the eyes.

 

RETURN TO CAMPUS /RESUMPTION OF OPERATIONS PROCESSES

When do faculty and staff need to return to work on campus if they have been working remotely?

Faculty and staff were expected to return to work on campus by August 29, 2021.

I have been working remotely and plan to come back to work on campus. What do I need to do?

Faculty, staff and researchers returning to work on campus must do the following:

  • Upload their vaccine status using the VacStatus Portal or through the TigerSafe App. Vaccination information must be uploaded by July 1, 2021.
  • Download the TigerSafe app on your smartphone. The TigerSafe app has links to testing, reporting absences to testing, symptom check, VacStatus, and more. Click here for instructions on how to download.
  • Be enrolled in the COVID-19 asymptomatic testing program. If you believe you should be eligible for testing but are unable to register a test kit through the web app, contact your departmental manager or supervisor.
  • Submit a saliva sample for asymptomatic testing during your first week back. If this is your first time testing at Princeton University or if it has been a while, go to the testing clinic. See Testing Resources for information on the location and timing for the clinics.
  • Complete a daily Symptom Check before coming to work in any University building or worksite if you are not fully vaccinated. The web-based form is available on the TigerSafe app or can be accessed directly at https://tinyurl.com/SymptomCheckPrinceton . If you do not have regular access to the internet, you may print paper copies or obtain a supply from your manager.

For more information, consult the Approval to Work on Campus section of the Princeton Playbook or contact your departmental manager or supervisor. 

I am a manager and would like all or some of my staff to return to work on campus. What do I need to do?

Prior to someone returning to work on campus:

  • Ensure that each person has provided information to VacStatus. Your department or office workflow manager receives reports of individuals who have not entered information into VacStatus.
  • Ensure that each person is enrolled in the asymptomatic testing program. To add a person or to check, send an email to covidresumption@princeton.edu
  • Make face coverings and alcohol-based hand sanitizing gel available. Order free supplies through EHS if needed.

Do managers need to update their Resumption of Operations, Resumption of Laboratory Operations, or other resumption plans?

No. As of July 4, 2021, resumption plans are no longer needed.

May we remove Plexiglas barriers, seat straps, and other materials put in place for social distancing and protection? What do we do with the materials?

Yes. Please do not discard Plexiglas or seat straps. Tape and signs may be recycled or thrown in the trash. See Returning University Spaces to Original Layouts Post COVID-19 Modifications for more information.

May we put furniture back in place? What do I do if I need help or if furniture is in storage?

Yes. If you need help moving furniture or if your furniture is in storage, put in a work order to Facilities Service Center. See Returning University Spaces to Original Layouts for more information.

Should we remove all of the COVID-19 public health signs?

Departments and offices should remove and dispose of unneeded signs, and may keep floor markers and other signs that they find helpful. Please see Returning University Spaces to Original Layouts for information about which signs to retain.

 

VEHICLE USE

Is it safe to share a vehicle?

There are no longer restrictions on sharing University vehicles. All individuals must wear face coverings, as per the Face Coverings Policy. For added protection, keep windows open if possible  Whether alone or with another passenger, always clean the vehicle with an approved disinfectant before other people use the vehicle and at the end of the shift.

Do I need to wear a face covering and/or practice social distancing on TigerTransit buses?

Per NJ Department of Health and CDC guidance, you do need to wear a mask, but do not have to maintain social distance on buses.

 

VENTILATION

What has the University done to improve building ventilation systems in light of the risk of exposure to COVID-19?

The University has taken a number of steps, including:. 

  • Servicing HVAC systems in buildings that have not been occupied to ensure that they are working properly and efficiently.
  • As possible, increasing the amount of outside air and decreasing the amount of recirculating air in buildings. 
  • Where possible, replacing air filters with highly efficient filters, such as MERV-13 filters.
  • Reducing or disabling occupancy controls that decrease ventilation rates when the space is unoccupied.

I'd like to have the ventilation in my building/office assessed. What should I do?

At this time, Facilities and EHS are not conducting additional ventilation assessments in campus buildings.

What can I do to improve ventilation in my building?

  • If your space has operable windows and opening them will not disrupt air conditioning or heating, open windows while occupying the space. Do not leave windows open and unlocked when the building is unoccupied. 
  • Leave on exhaust fans in restrooms if they are operated by a switch.
  • Do not bring your own air filtration units. If you believe you need to bring in such a unit, please contact EHS for consultation. EHS will work with Facilities and the University Fire Marshal, as needed.

How much outside air is provided to our campus buildings?

*Wherever possible, the University meets or exceeds the outside air parameters recommended by ANSI/ASHRAE Standard 62.1-2019 on Indoor Air Quality.  

Ventilation systems in our older buildings may not provide the amount of outside air specified by this standard. However, all of our air handler units have been set to provide the maximum amount of outside air while maintaining reasonably comfortable temperature and relative humidity levels. 

Is air in my office recirculated from other parts of the building?  

With the exception of laboratories and machine shops, the ventilation system in most buildings on campus provide a mix of outdoor and recirculated air.  Even the most stringent indoor air quality standards for classrooms, offices and assembly areas allow for a mix of outside and recirculated air.

Recirculated air is filtered before it is delivered back to occupied spaces. The quality of a filter is based upon its ability to capture small particles. The MERV (Minimum Efficiency Reporting Values) rating is a measurement of a filter's ability to capture particles of a certain size and range from 1 to 16. The higher the MERV rating the better the filter is at trapping certain size particles. When possible, our ventilation systems are equipped with MERV-13 filters, as recommended by CDC. All air filters are periodically cleaned and replaced by trained Facilities staff to ensure proper function

Some of the air in my building is recirculated. If a co-worker is diagnosed with COVID-19, will I need to quarantine due to the recirculated air?

No. Decisions about the need to quarantine a staff member or student are made by UHS physicians and nurses and are based primarily upon your physical distance from the ill person. You may be told to quarantine only if you were within six feet of the ill person for more than 15 minutes over the course of 24 hours. 
 
I work in a small office and I am concerned because there is no mechanical ventilation system.

Some older buildings are equipped with heating and cooling devices but do not receive fresh air via a mechanical ventilation system. If windows are available, open them unless opening the windows affects your seasonal allergies. If the unventilated space is used for assemblies of staff or students, EHS may make recommendations on how to safely use the space.

Should I purchase or bring in an air purifier for extra protection in the office?

No. Do not bring your own air filtration units. If you believe you need to bring in such a unit, please contact EHS for consultation. EHS will work with Facilities and the University Fire Marshal, as needed.

What about filtration units in classrooms?

For those few classrooms with no mechanical ventilation, portable filters have been placed by Facilities (if assigned by the Registrar) or may be purchased by departments (if managed at the department level). These units must comply with guidance outlined on the EHS website
 

VISITORS

The following FAQs refer to the Visitor Policy.

Do I need approval from Environmental Health and Safety (EHS) for a visitor to enter a campus building?

Most visitors can be approved by the administrative department head of the faculty or staff member sponsoring the visit.  Use the Sponsored Visitor Request Form to document approval.  

If the visitor does not have a sponsor, please consult with EHS (609-258-9294, ehs@princeton.edu).

Who is NOT a visitor?

The following groups are not considered visitors:

  • Undergraduate and graduate students who are enrolled and have permission to enter University buildings. 
  • Current employees of the University, including: 
    • Faculty and staff who currently have access to campus buildings.
    • Casual employees. 
    • Visiting researchers and visiting faculty with formal appointments from the Office of the Dean of the Faculty who have been approved to work on campus.
    • Long-term temporary staff agency personnel approved to work on campus by their University supervisor. 

Who is considered a pre-approved visitor that does not need to go through the approval process?

The following groups are pre-approved visitors who do not need to go through the approval process:

  • Contractors and vendors
  • Family members of students
  • Individuals who reside in dormitories with graduate or undergraduate students.
  • Family members and guests of non-dormitory University housing residents.
  • Prospective students.
  • Prospective faculty, staff, and post-doctoral fellows.
  • Participants in University-sponsored programs.
  • Media and film crews approved by Communications.
  • As of August 1, 2021, individuals who attend events that are open to the public.

See the Visitor Policy for additional information about each of these groups.

Who can sponsor a visitor?

Faculty, staff or graduate students may sponsor a visitor. Approval comes from the head of the department or office. Undergraduate students should see their Deans of Student Life.

If I am hosting an event that is open to the public, do I need approval for each attendee?

No. You do not need to sponsor or provide approval for each attendee, but you do need to maintain a roster of attendees for at least two weeks after the event.

If I am hosting a conference or event that will include guests, do I need approval for each attendee that is not Princeton faculty, staff, or student?

No. You do not need to sponsor or provide approval for each attendee, but you do need to maintain a roster of attendees for at least two weeks after the event.

Are emeritus faculty considered visitors?

If emeritus faculty currently have access to campus buildings, they are not considered visitors.

Are caterers considered visitors?

No. Caterers are subject to the Requirements for Contractors and Vendors and may provide service on campus If they comply with applicable food safety/health and insurance requirements. 

My department works with volunteers. Are they considered visitors?

Yes. Faculty or staff who wish to request an exemption to allow volunteers on campus must initiate the Sponsored Visitor Request Form

Are alumni considered visitors?

Yes. At this time, alumni are considered visitors.

Are retirees considered visitors?

Yes. At this time, retirees are considered visitors.

May hiring managers invite perspective candidates on campus for interviews?

Yes. In-person interviews may occur with permission from the hiring manager's administrative department head. 

I work from home. May I enter campus buildings to pick up materials? I am I considered a visitor?

Employees are not considered visitors. Complete the Daily Symptom Check if you are not fully vaccinated and notify your supervisor prior to entering a campus building. 

OTHER QUESTIONS

If your question is not listed on this document, please contact EHS at ehs@princeton.edu or 609-258-5294.