Policy on Indoor and Outdoor Gatherings, Meetings, and Events

UPDATE 11/30: New Jersey Gov. Phil Murphy signed an executive order limiting to 25 the number of people allowed to gather outdoors, effective 12/7. Murphy previously (11/16) signed an executive order limiting indoor gatherings to 10 people. 

Responsible Executive: Executive Vice President

Responsible Office: Environmental Health and Safety

Contacts: Please direct questions concerning this policy to Environmental Health and Safety at ehs@princeton.edu

Effective Date:  August 24, 2020

In the interest of public health and to reduce the possible transmission of communicable diseases, particularly COVID-19, the University institutes this policy on gatherings, events and meetings among other policies, procedures, and guidance. This policy will be updated to reflect the most recent New Jersey Executive Orders, local Health Department guidance and University COVID-19 testing program results.

This policy will remain in effect until the risk of Covid-19 has been mitigated to a degree that the Environmental Safety and Risk Management Committee determines it is no longer needed, based on guidance from public health experts.

I.    Policy Statement

In support of efforts to reduce transmission of COVID-19, gatherings, meetings, or events (“gatherings”) should be hosted virtually whenever possible.  

Gatherings of greater than 5 people indoors and 20 people outdoors that support a student’s progress towards a degree or a student’s health and well-being, or are deemed essential to the mission of the University, may be held in person if approved by the Gatherings Team.

Gatherings of fewer than 5 people indoors and 20 outdoors must be held in accordance with University’s public health measures and should be scheduled through the EMS web app scheduling.princeton.edu  (link is external).

II.    Who Is Affected by This Policy

This policy applies to all students, faculty, staff, and visitors.

III. Definitions

Authorized to be on campus: 

  • Undergraduate and graduate students who are enrolled and have permission to enter University buildings.  
  • Faculty and staff who are listed in an approved department or research laboratory Resumption of Operations Plan.

Gatherings refers to meetings, events, and planned assembly of individuals, held indoors or outdoors, sponsored, supported or funded by the University. Please see Exceptions, below, for gatherings that do not fall within the scope of this policy. 

Visitors are individuals who meet the definitions provided in the Visitor Policy.

IV.    Policy

The Gatherings Team will review and approve, if appropriate public health measures are in place, requests for gatherings of greater than 5 people indoors and 20 people outdoors that support a student’s progress towards a degree or a student’s health and well-being, or are deemed critical to the mission of the University.

Faculty, staff, or graduate students can submit requests for gatherings through the EMS web app scheduling.princeton.edu (link is external). Undergraduate students may not initiate requests for approval of gatherings. 

Gatherings that support a department’s normal operations, such as staff meetings, site visits, building tours, training, and academic advising should be included in a department’s Resumption of Operations Plan. Student classes and curricular activities should be reviewed and approved by the Registrar.

All gatherings must be conducted in accordance with all federal, state, and local regulations, as well as University policies and public health measures, including but not limited to social distancing and face covering requirements. Gatherings involving undergraduate students and graduate students covered by the Social Contract (link is external) must comply with the expectations articulated in that document.

Gatherings of fewer than 5 people indoors and 20 outdoors must be held in accordance with University’s public health measures and should be scheduled through the EMS web app scheduling.princeton.edu (link is external).

Only faculty, staff, and students authorized to enter campus buildings may participate in approved in-person gatherings. Visitors, as defined in the Visitor Policy, are not permitted to participate in in-person gatherings unless they have received approval through the Visitor Request Process.

For the Spring 2021 semester, to accommodate students who are quarantined upon arrival on campus, no in-person gatherings that include students will be approved prior to February 1, 2021.

The event organizer is responsible for conducting or delegating the following:

  • Submitting a request to the Gatherings Review Team at least 10 days in advance of the planned gathering through the EMS web app scheduling.princeton.edu (link is external).
  • In-person monitoring of compliance with social distancing, face covering, hand hygiene, and disinfection requirements from start to end of gathering.
  • Presenting a plan for social distancing, including the number of staff required to monitor compliance throughout the gathering (recommend 1 compliance monitor per 10 attendees). 
  • Taking attendance at the gathering.

Indoor Gatherings

  • Gatherings are limited to spaces that have been pre-approved by the Gatherings Review Team and must be reserved in the Event Management System (EMS).
  • Gatherings are limited to 25% of the space capacity or the current limit permitted by NJ Executive Orders, whichever is lower. 
  • All gatherings must be conducted in accordance with all federal, state, and local regulations, as well as University policies and public health measures, including but not limited to social distancing and face covering requirements.
  • Campus Dining may provide catering services when permitted by New Jersey Executive Orders and local Health Department guidance.

Outdoor Gatherings

  • Princeton-approved gatherings under this policy that will be held outdoors are limited to 100 people or the current limit permitted by NJ Executive Orders, whichever is lower.
  • All gatherings must be conducted in accordance with all federal, state, and local regulations, as well as University policies and public health measures, including but not limited to social distancing and face covering requirements.
  • Campus Dining may provide catering services in accordance with the current New Jersey Executive Orders and local Health Department guidance.
  • All participants must wear face coverings except when eating or drinking. Participants must be at least six feet from another person when eating.

IV. Exceptions

This policy does not apply to: 

  • In-person work or research activities that are approved as part of a department’s Resumption of Operations Plan, an Academic Research Infrastructure Plan (ARIP), or a faculty member's Research Laboratory Operations Plan (RLOP), or are reviewed in relation to those plans. Gatherings that support a department’s operations, such as staff meetings, site tours, building tours, training, and academic advising must be described in an approved Resumptions Plan.
  • Classes and curricular activities organized by the University Registrar.
  • Alumni events held off-campus. 
  • Gatherings protected by the First Amendment. Please see University’s guidance for Protests, Demonstrations, and Peaceful Dissent (link is external).

V.    Violations

Students found to be in violation of this policy may be subject to discipline in accordance with Rights, Rules, Responsibilities (link is external).

Faculty and staff found to be violation of this policy may be subject to disciplinary actions in accordance with appropriate University policy.

Campus visitors found to be in violation of this policy may be subject to University sanctions, including being banned from campus.

VI.    Additional Resources

Guidance on the Use of Face Coverings provides information on choosing, making, and caring for face coverings.

VII.    Related Policies

VIII.    Update Log

Endorsed by Environmental Safety and Risk Management Committee  August 24, 2020

Updated by ESRM December 4, 2020.

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