FAQs for COVID-19 Health and Safety

Updated June 9, 2021



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. Bathrooms in dormitory living areas, other than private bathrooms only accessible through student rooms or suites, are cleaned by Building Services custodians at least twice 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.



Why do I have to complete the symptom check?

For faculty, staff, and researchers, use of the Daily Symptom Check ensures compliance with the COVID-19 workplace safety protocols outlined in New Jersey Executive Order 192 (1)(f), Protect New Jersey’s Workforce. The executiove order provides rules for businesses, including educational institutions, to protect employees who are physically present in the worksite and requires daily health checks of such employees prior to coming to work.

For undergraduate and graduate students, use of the Daily Symptom Check ensures compliance with Restart Standards for All New Jersey Institutions of Higher Education.

Who has to complete the symptom check?

All faculty, researchers, staff, graduate students, and undergraduate students 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 live off-campus must use the Daily Symptom check before coming to campus. Students living in University housing must use the Daily Symptom Check before leaving their residence to enter any University building.

If I am already getting tested once or twice a week, do I have to complete the symptom check?

Yes. Faculty, staff and students 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.

What if I don’t have a thermometer at home to measure my temperature?

Individuals may request a thermometer for home use from the Office of Environmental Health and Safety by emailing ehs@princeton.edu.

Doesn’t the Emergency Order require temperature checks at the door?

No, the Executive Order lists a variety of potential health screenings consistent with CDC guidance, including self-assessment checklists like the Daily Symptom Check.

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.

Do I have to complete the daily symptom check if I have already completed the Dillon Gym questionnaire?

Yes. The health questionnaire required for entry into Dillon Gym does not take the place of completing a daily symptom check to enter University buildings other than your residence. The Daily Symptom Check and the recreational fitness screening requirement are two separate programs that stem from two separate state and University requirements.

Do I have to complete the daily symptom check if I am only dropping off my asymptomatic test sample?

Yes. The daily symptom check is required to access any non-residential campus building, regardless of duration of stay. Of note, members of the campus community are discouraged from only coming to campus for the sole purpose of participating in the asymptomatic testing program.

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.



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

Yes. Per University policy, all students, faculty, staff, and visitors are required to wear a face covering over their nose and mouth at all times unless alone in a space or outdoors. 

See the Face Covering Policy for more information, including additional exceptions. 

I am fully vaccinated. Do I have to wear a face covering indoors?

Yes. The University Face Coverings Policy requires all faculty, staff, students, and visitors to wear face coverings indoors regardless of vaccination status, with exceptions listed in the policy (e.g., alone in a room).

The CDC and New Jersey executive orders state that individuals who are fully vaccinated do not have to wear face coverings or maintain social distancing. Why does the University require me to wear a face covering indoors?

New Jersey executive orders allow the University to have rules that are more protective than the State rules. Wearing a face covering is an effective measure to prevent spread of COVID-19 and does not impede an individual from being able to conduct their work in most cases. Until we are able to verify that the level of vaccination on our campus is high, our public health experts advise that we continue to require face coverings indoors.

When will the University change the rules for wearing face coverings indoors?

Once we are able to determine the rate of vaccination among our faculty, staff, and students on campus, the University will review the policy on face coverings. Since individuals have until July 1, 2021 to enter their vaccination data into VacStatus, the policy is likely to remain unchanged until after that date.

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. 

I find it difficult to breathe or very uncomfortable to wear a face covering. May I opt not to wear one on campus?

If you are not able to wear a face covering for medical reasons, such as difficulty breathing or inability to place or remove the face covering without assistance, you can seek an accommodation to be exempt from wearing one. See the  Policy on Disability and Accessibility for more information. If you are exempt from wearing a face covering, you have the option of wearing a face shield instead. Contact EHS for more information. 

I cannot wear a face covering because of a medical condition. What should I do?

If you are not able to wear a face covering for medical reasons, such as difficulty breathing or inability to place or remove the face covering without assistance, you can seek an accommodation to be exempt from wearing one. See the  Policy on Disability and Accessibility for more information. If you are exempt from wearing a face covering, you have the option of wearing a face shield instead. Contact EHS for more information. 

My work causes my face covering to get dirty or wet quickly.

If your work causes your face covering to get very sweaty, dirty, or wet, consider these options:

  • Wear a lightweight face shield over your face covering to protect it from dirt, splashes, and other materials.
  • Change your face covering often during the work and wash them all at the end of the day.
  • Use two layers of face coverings and replace the outer one as needed.
  • As a last resort, use disposable masks and change them as needed.

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.

Do  I need to wear a face covering when walking around campus outdoors?


I prefer disposable face coverings. Why shouldn’t I use them regularly?

Besides the sustainability implications, disposable face coverings are in short supply in several areas of the country. As our nation experiences rising numbers of cases and hospitalizations, disposable masks need to be preserved for healthcare and emergency response workers who rely on them.

May I wear a face shield instead of a cloth face covering?

No. At this time, the definition of face covering does not include face shields. You can wear a face shield over your face covering for added protection. The US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention does not recommend use of face shields in place of cloth or disposable face coverings, mostly because there is not enough evidence that the face shield alone prevents droplets from a cough, sneeze, speaking loudly, etc. from spreading outside the face shield.

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.


May I resume staff or group meetings indoors without review and approval by the Gatherings Review Team?

Yes, as long as you do not exceed pre-COVID-19 occupancy limits and reserve spaces in EMS. Individuals who are not vaccinated are responsible for following University policies and health guidelines in place at the time of the meeting.

I would like to have a gathering for fewer than 25 people indoors or fewer than 100 people outdoors. Since this is below the threshold for the Gatherings Policy, is it permitted?

Not necessarily. Such gatherings, meetings, and events are not covered by the Gatherings Policy, so do not require centralized review and approval. However, other policies, procedures, or requirements from your department or dean may apply.

May I organize a gathering for fewer than 25 people indoors or fewer than 100 people outdoors, inviting visitors?

Outdoors: You may organize such a gathering without Gatherings Review Team approval. However, other policies, procedures, or requirements from your department or dean may apply.
Indoors: If you plan to invite visitors to an indoor gathering of less than 25 people, please review the University Visitor Policy and obtain approval for your visitors prior to the gathering.

I am an employee (faculty or staff) who works less than 8 hours per week on campus. Am I considered a visitor for the purpose of the Visitor Policy or the Gatherings Policy?

No. You are not considered a visitor and may attend events or meetings covered by the Gatherings Policy.


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 the same effects that the product was originally tested.  Most hand sanitizers require thoroughly wetting the surface of your hands with the hand sanitizer as well as recommending to help distribute the sanitizer by rubbing/kneading your 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.



What do I need to do in order to return to normal work operations on campus?

All staff members should anticipate being back at work on campus no later than August 29, the start of the 2021-2022 academic year. Staff working remotely will return to campus on a rolling basis as determined by operational progress and need. 

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.
  • 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.
  • Complete a daily Symptom Check before coming to work in any University building or worksite. 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.
  • Be provided and wear face coverings according to the University Face Covering Policy. Face coverings can be requested through the EHS PPE & Supply Request Form

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



Is it safe to share a vehicle?

Ridership limits are no longer required if all occupants of the vehicle are vaccinated. Mask wearing is still required. Unvaccinated individuals should ride alone in vehicles as much as possible. If unvaccinated individuals must share a vehicle with another person:

  • Both occupants must wear face coverings.
  • Occupants should sit as far away from each other as possible. If there are two rows of seating, the passenger should sit in the back passenger seat. 
  • Minimize time in the vehicle.
  • Keep windows open, as 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 if I am alone in the vehicle?

No, you do not need to wear a face covering if you are alone in a space, including a vehicle.



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.

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.

I’ve heard that ventilation systems have resulted in the spread of COVID-19. Is this true?
Some studies have been published that show that people who have shared a space with a person who tested positive for COVID-19  have also become infected. In these studies, the spaces were congested, occupants were not practicing social distancing and it is not known if they were wearing face coverings. Transmission through large droplets or surface contamination could also account for the spread of the virus. Our team is monitoring studies of this nature so that we can update our guidance if necessary.
Hasn’t the World Health Organization stated that the virus that causes COVID-19 is spread via the air?

The WHO has cited the results of a few studies that suggest the possibility of both aerosol and droplet transmission during activities such as dining out, fitness classes and choir practice. However, the detailed investigations of these clusters suggest that droplet and surface contamination could also explain human-to-human transmission within these clusters. Further, the close contact environments of these clusters may have facilitated transmission from a small number of cases to many other people (e.g., superspreading event), especially if hand hygiene was not performed and masks were not used when physical distancing was not maintained.

You can find details about the WHO’s guidance on transmission of the virus on their website.
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. In these type of spaces, it is important to maintain social distance and allow at least 100 ft2 per person, wear face coverings if you are not alone and clean and disinfect frequently touched surfaces. 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.



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 (link) to document approval.  

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

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 and notify your supervisor prior to entering a campus building. 


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