The following reflects university safety protocols announced July 26, 2021.
The university is reinstating its indoor mask requirement, effective immediately, in accordance with the city and county mandates that went into effect July 26, 2021. University rules may change in response to noncompliance, disease activity, evolving CDC guidance or scientific advances.
Signs throughout the Medical Campus indicate procedures for use of common areas such as equipment rooms, restrooms, elevators and break rooms, among other topics. Please follow these instructions carefully to minimize the spread of COVID-19.
- If you are vaccinated, remain 6 feet from others whenever you are unmasked.
- If you are unvaccinated, remain at least 6 feet from others at all times, especially when indoors.
- Stagger breaks and meal times to avoid crowding when eating or unmasked.
- Don’t congregate in break rooms, work rooms or other common areas.
Our guidance is in line with safety procedures of our partners at BJC.
Importance of masks
Public health and other data strongly support that universal masking substantially reduces transmission of COVID-19. The main purpose of the mask is to prevent the wearer from expelling small virus-containing droplets of saliva or mucus into the air and infecting others. Wearing a mask reduces the likelihood that an infected individual could spread the virus to people around them (colleagues, co-workers, friends, etc.). This is especially important for infected people who may be asymptomatic.
Masks also protect the wearer. Researchers have determined that the nose is a key entry point for the virus that causes COVID-19. The publication in the journal Nature Medicine explained that nasal cells in particular contain high levels of the proteins that SARS-CoV-2 attaches to in order to enter the body.
Therefore, to reduce the spread of the virus, and to protect the health of all our faculty, staff, and trainees, WashU Med requires universal masking.
What type of mask to wear
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) continues to recommend that you wear the most protective mask you can that fits well and that you will wear consistently.
Employees in office-based and non-clinical settings where no patients are present may continue to wear well-fitted cloth masks with multiple layers. However, WashU Med recommends the use of three-ply disposable ASTM-rated isolation masks (also called procedure or surgical masks), which offer enhanced protection from COVID-19. Employees who feel they are at increased risk or who care for or live with others at increased risk may wish to wear their own KN95s or N95s.
Disposable isolation masks are currently available at MCC and FLTC lobby desks and the FISC desk. Additional locations will be added in coming weeks.
If you are an employee in an office-based and non-clinical setting where no patients are present and decide to voluntarily wear an N95 for protection against COVID-19 please review guidance on voluntary (non-clinical) use of N95 masks. Contact Environmental Health & Safety if you have questions after reviewing the voluntary use information.
Where to wear a mask
You must wear a mask in all indoor spaces, including cubicles, regardless of vaccination status. You may remove your mask while you are alone in non-clinical private environments (offices, private meeting spaces, break rooms, labs, classrooms, meeting rooms). You may also remove your mask while you are eating or drinking with appropriate six-foot physical distance from others.
Masks are encouraged outdoors — especially when in crowded spaces — but are not required.
Clinical staff should follow current PPE guidelines, posted on the Faculty Practice Plan website.
Events & meetings
See below for masking requirements at events and meetings.
Masks are required on campus shuttles.
Face coverings are mandatory for all Metro Transit customers and employees when riding MetroBus, MetroLink or Metro Call-A-Ride services.
Masking alternatives for instruction — non-clinical spaces
To address concerns about effective communication during teaching in certain non-clinical situations, Washington University has developed guidelines for and evaluations of mask alternatives.
Events & meetings
Effective Dec. 28, to reduce the risk of COVID-19 transmission, there should be no in-person social events or parties on the Medical Campus and no university-sponsored social events off campus. In-person business meetings may continue, but food and drink should not be served. Packaged meals may be provided to meeting participants as they are leaving.
Food & drink
Food and drink may be consumed in the following locations:
- At outdoor events
- In campus restaurants/cafes where seats are pre-positioned for appropriate physical distancing
- In conference rooms, classrooms and auditoriums if six-foot distancing can be maintained
- In any private indoor space when alone
- Wash your hands frequently and avoid touching your face.
- Cough and sneeze into your elbow.
- Do not share headsets or other objects that are near your mouth or nose.
These public health policies will be strictly enforced. Violations may result in corrective and/or disciplinary action, including suspension or dismissal.