Updated January 26, 2022

Washington University Danforth Campus (including North, West, South and Tyson Campuses) COVID-19 Policy effective from July 30, 2021 until further notice

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 provide some protection to the wearer.

Therefore, to reduce the spread of the virus and to protect the health of all our faculty, staff, students and other community members, Washington University is requiring universal masking indoors for all individuals, regardless of vaccination status. 

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.

Students, faculty and staff may continue to wear well-fitted cloth masks with multiple layers. However, WashU recommends the use of three-ply disposable ASTM-rated isolation masks (also called procedure or surgical masks), which offer more reliable and enhanced protection from COVID-19 than most cloth masks. 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 available in dispensers in buildings throughout campus, in dining areas, on shuttles and at test locations.  

Learn more from the CDC about mask types

If you are an employee and decide to voluntarily wear an N95 for protection against COVID-19 please review this guidance. Contact Environmental Health & Safety if you have questions after reviewing the voluntary use information. 

All WashU personnel and visitors are required to wear a mask while on campus as follows: 

  • This policy applies to faculty, staff, students, trainees, contractors, vendors and other visitors. 
  • When wearing a mask, it should fit snugly over the wearer’s mouth, nose and sides of the face. The CDC guidelines offer tips for tightening the fit of cloth and disposable masks.
  • Masks should consist of multiple layers and meet CDC guidelines.
  • Masks are required:
    • At indoor gatherings for everyone, regardless of vaccination status or the size of a meeting or gathering.
    • In open office settings such as cubicles.
  • Masks are not required:
    • When an individual is inside a private office or room or while eating or drinking, allowing for personal space as much as possible.
    • Outdoors, but they are encouraged, particularly at large events or in crowded settings.
  • Gaiters, bandanas and any masks with valves are not adequate and should not be worn.
  • Wash your hands before placing and removing your mask and ensure reusable masks are washed regularly.
  • Note: Instructors may use an approved alternative mask while teaching, if necessary, for instruction of hearing-impaired students.
  • If you have a medical condition that may preclude wearing a mask, please contact Occupational Health if you are an employee or Habif Health and Wellness Center if you are a student to discuss your condition and potential accommodations.