All Updates

Updated public health guidance

May 19, 2021

Dear Washington University community,

As we continue to closely monitor developments in COVID-19 public health guidance at the federal and regional levels, we are also reviewing our own policies to determine whether any changes are in order. As always, we are making decisions with the health and safety of our community as our highest priorities. At this time, based on recommendations from the Centers for Disease Control (CDC) and our local health departments, as well as the insight of our COVID Monitoring Team, we are making a number of updates to our campus protocols. 

These changes are rooted in the understanding that fully vaccinated individuals are at low risk of contracting or spreading COVID-19. We know that more than 80 percent of Medical Campus faculty, staff and trainees have been vaccinated, and we are working to gather information about the Danforth Campus, where we are asking students, faculty and staff to voluntarily disclose their vaccination status. Knowing that we have individuals in our community who are immune-compromised or otherwise at risk of severe COVID-19 infection or lack of immune response to the vaccine, we feel that we need to exercise some degree of caution in moving forward with any changes to our policies. However, we feel we are able to make the following changes at this time.


  • Masks are still required for everyone at all times in all hospital and clinical spaces, regardless of vaccination status. This includes any spaces where there are interactions with patients or research participants. 
  • Masks are still required for everyone at all times in indoor public spaces including lobbies, open spaces, walkways and large classrooms/meeting spaces.
  • In non-clinical or semi-private environments (offices, private meeting spaces, break rooms, labs, classrooms/meeting spaces) with 30 or fewer people present, masks are optional for those who are fully vaccinated. For those who are not fully vaccinated, masks are still required. 

Physical distancing in work and classroom settings

  • Physical distancing of six feet between individuals in classrooms, conference rooms and labs is no longer required in School of Medicine non-clinical spaces due to the high rate of vaccination in this population. Individuals who are not fully vaccinated are still encouraged to maintain six-foot physical distancing. 
  • Physical distancing of six feet is still required in such spaces on the Danforth Campus, until further information can be gathered about vaccination rates.

Events and gatherings

  • We recommend holding all gatherings in large and/or outdoor spaces, whenever possible.
  • For outdoor events, masking is optional for anyone who is fully vaccinated.
  • For indoor events or gatherings with 30 or fewer people, masking is optional for anyone who is fully vaccinated.
  • For indoor events or gatherings with more than 30 people, masking is still required for everyone.
  • Individuals who are not fully vaccinated must continue to wear a mask and physically distance at both indoor and outdoor events.

It is important to note that many individuals may choose to remain masked and distanced for their own personal reasons regardless of their vaccination status. This should not be interpreted as an indication that the individual is not vaccinated.

We acknowledge that the CDC’s public health guidance has shifted quickly, and we recognize that it will continue to evolve. We hope there will be a clearer path forward in the weeks and months ahead. In the meantime, we must rely on each other and our good judgment to make decisions that will keep our community safe. 

As a reminder, COVID-19 vaccination appointments are available through the university for all Washington University students, faculty and staff and their family members ages 12 and older. Click here to register and make an appointment.

As always, we’re grateful for your support and all that you are doing to help us navigate this challenging time. We’re glad to be able to take some small steps toward resuming our regular activities on campus and look forward to welcoming our community back more fully as soon as it is safe to do so. Thank you for your many contributions to our success so far.


Beverly Wendland, PhD
Provost and Executive Vice Chancellor for Academic Affairs

David H. Perlmutter, MD
Executive Vice Chancellor for Medical Affairs and Dean, School of Medicine

Eva Aagaard, MD
Senior Associate Dean for Education, School of Medicine
Interim Senior Administrator, Occupational Health

Steve Lawrence, MD, MSc, FIDSA
Professor of Medicine, Division of Infectious Diseases
Assistant Dean for Curriculum and Clinical Sciences, Office of Medical Student Education