Last updated: Thursday, September 17, 2020

These guidelines provide an overview of how the University of Washington is ensuring building readiness on the Seattle campus as faculty, staff and students return. It describes what UW Facilities is doing to prepare, as well as what activities will be the responsibility of building coordinators, instructional support staff and occupants once they return to campus.

This document has been developed in coordination with Environmental Health & Safety (EH&S) and other campus partners and is intended to supplement the requirements of the UW COVID-19 Prevention Plan for the Workplace. It will be revised as new information or guidelines are released, with updates and a change log posted online. You can also download this document as a pdf. A separate web page explaining building systems curtailment is also available.

We welcome feedback. Please send questions or comments to the UW Facilities Customer Care Team via e-mail at

Please note: Campus buildings and facilities vary widely in age, condition and systems. Many have unique issues that may need further investigation and support beyond the general guidelines included in this document. Building-specific concerns should be reported to and managed by the building coordinator who will work in conjunction with UW Facilities and EH&S. 

COVID-19 safety training

Building occupants

  • COVID-19 Safety Training must be completed by all University personnel before or upon returning to work on site at a University location, even if personnel have been performing critical work on site at a UW work location. University units (e.g., medical centers) may provide their own training that covers the elements of the University’s COVID-19 Safety Training. University units that wish to provide their own training to personnel may download and utilize the Back to the Workplace training slides. Units that provide their own COVID-19 safety training for returning to work must document and retain attendance records as required by Governor Inslee’s Safe Start Plan.
  • Personnel must also receive training on the unit or site-specific COVID-19 Prevention plan by their supervisors.

Daily symptom attestation

Building coordinators

Building occupants

  • Daily attestation on COVID-19 symptoms is required for all employees returning to their on-site work location to ensure the safety and public health of the UW campus and community. The attestation is available in Workday for all campus staff.

Visitor Log

Building occupants

  • University units with visitors who may come into close contact (within 6 feet for at least 15 minutes) with University personnel must maintain a visitor log to support contract tracing activities. This log must be retained for 30 days.
  • Instructions on how to maintain the log, as well as a sample form, are available for download from EH&S.

Hand washing/sanitizing

UW Facilities

  • Custodians check and refill soap dispensers in restrooms and common areas on a daily basis and as needed based on use rates.
  • Hand sanitizer stations will be provided at building entrances and main lobbies where possible and in accordance with EH&S guidelines on hand sanitizer.

Building coordinators

Building occupants

  • Wash your hands after contacting high-touch areas such as door handles, elevator buttons, phones, remote controls, light switches, bathroom fixtures, and water fountains.
  • Ensure handwashing strategies include washing with soap and water for at least 20 seconds, especially after going to the bathroom; before eating; and after blowing your nose, coughing, or sneezing. If soap and water are not available and hands are not visibly dirty, use an alcohol-based hand sanitizer that contains at least 60% alcohol. For more details, see the “Practice Good Hygiene” section of the UW COVID-19 Prevention Plan for the Workplace.
  • Make hand sanitizer available in department/unit spaces as needed.

Face coverings

Building occupants

Individual building checklist

Building coordinators

  • Make sure you understand how building readiness applies to your particular facility. Use the “Building Readiness Checklist” from EH&S and note any areas of concern.

Cleaning and disinfection

UW Facilities

  • UW Facilities custodial staff have deep cleaned and disinfected all public spaces in academic, research and administrative buildings. These spaces include classrooms, auditoriums, libraries, hallways, restrooms and other spaces that students, staff, faculty and other visitors frequent.
  • Following the deep cleaning of public spaces, custodial staff conducted a one-time cleaning and disinfection of offices, break rooms, conference rooms, and other common areas where staff or faculty may work or congregate.
  • Daily custodial service to all buildings will continue as it has in the past. This includes daily high-touch point cleaning/disinfecting in restrooms, conference rooms, kitchenettes and other areas in which faculty and staff congregate.  Emphasis will be given on conducting a second daily disinfection of high-touch points, especially elevator buttons, handrails, door knobs and bars, water fountains, etc.
  • Classrooms, lecture halls and auditoriums will be cleaned before the first class of the day and in between classes that are not scheduled back to back. The cleaning includes disinfection of high-touch points, cleaning any visible soiled surfaces, removing waste material, sweeping and/or mopping floors as needed, cleaning the white board and/or chalkboard, and replenishing markers and/or chalk.
  • UW custodial units follow the UW Cleaning and Disinfection Protocol. Supplemental personnel are on standby if needed, including dedicated hazardous and biological material specialists.

Building occupants

  • Staff and faculty will need to resume daily enhanced cleaning and disinfection of their individual work spaces when they return to their buildings. We recommend that all departments purchase and provide single-use disinfectant wipes for human touch points within their work spaces such as keyboards, public counters, credit card readers, phones, and other shared surfaces and items.


Building coordinators

  • Use the approved UW posters to inform building occupants and visitors how to properly navigate and occupy the facility in as safe a fashion as possible:

    • On building entrance doors:

      • “Stop! Feeling sick? Stay home!”
      • “Face coverings required”
    • Near restrooms and hand washing sinks:
      • “Wash your hands the right way”
    • Post all other posters in highly visible locations as appropriate such as building lobbies, common areas, safety bulletin boards, break rooms, near elevators and at entrances to unit/department work areas. 
  • Digital versions of these posters are available for free download from the “Stay Healthy, Huskies” website. Durable versions (clings, graphics, posters, etc.) can be purchased through Creative Communications COVID/Safety Visuals website.
  • In addition to the signage mentioned above, provide regular announcements on reducing the spread of COVID-19. 

    Building-specific COVID prevention instructions and information may also be included in building newsletters, elevator posters, and other formats where building occupants receive information.

Space planning/traffic flow

Building coordinators

  • Create one-way traffic patterns that best suit how the various teams in your building operate and as space permits. You may wish to order “one-way” floor signs from C2.
  • Where possible, establish dedicated “IN” and “OUT” doors to minimize the possibility of cross traffic.  In some cases, your usual entry door(s) may need to be closed or secured for the time being. Post signage to help building occupants and visitors successfully navigate any new routing. Emergency egress shall be as normally defined in your facility’s Evacuation Plans.


Building coordinators

  • Post signage reminding people to observe physical distancing guidelines while waiting in the lobby for the next available elevator car, or to consider using the stairs. 
  • Where feasible, establish one-way stairwell traffic. This means one stairwell utilized for traffic going “UP” and one for traffic going “DOWN”. Emergency egress shall be as normally defined in your facility’s Evacuation Plans.

Building occupants

  • Where elevators exist, occupancy must ensure a 6-foot distance between people and may be limited to a maximum of two (2) to four (4) persons per elevator car at a time depending on the size of the car.

Plexiglass and other barriers

Hand-washing, masking and physical distancing are the best means to reduce the risk of transmitting COVID-19. University units with significant public interaction may also want to consider adding the use of physical barriers, such as plexiglass or other similar materials. The EH&S Guidance for Plexiglass Barriers in the Workplace includes information on the benefits and limitations as well as instructions for requesting the barriers be installed in a particular work area.

As a reminder, adhering to handwashing strategies and the University of Washington COVID-19 Face Covering Policy are the best means to reduce the risk of transmission.

UW Facilities

  • Responsible for installing plexiglass barriers based on requests by departments and guidance from EH&S and Engineering Services. A completed Plexiglass Barrier Installation Request Form must be signed by a unit head and a budget code provided before any work starts. Some requests may not be feasible due to ventilation and fire safety considerations.

Building coordinators

Building occupants

  • Responsible for cleaning plexiglass barriers, which are considered part of an individual’s workspace.

Heating, ventilation & air conditioning (HVAC) systems

UW Facilities has been maintaining all building HVAC systems since the start of the COVID-19 pandemic and these systems have not been shut off. We are following the best practices as outlined by public health agencies and UW EH&S in evaluating and adjusting our building HVAC systems. No two UW buildings are alike and each one has a unique HVAC setup with differences in age, capacity, and type. This means that what might be the best solution for one building isn’t appropriate for another building next door.

We are following the recommendations set forth by the HVAC industry which states that it is best to continue running HVAC systems during this COVID-19 pandemic.  Our HVAC technicians are focused on ensuring that our systems are in good working order and are making corrections as needed.

UW Facilities continues to partner with EH&S to address questions and concerns regarding HVAC systems and have jointly developed a list of COVID-19 RTW Ventilation FAQ’s.


UW Facilities

  • Where possible, UW Facilities will increase the amount of outside airflow in building HVAC systems.
  • UW Facilities will inspect and replace air filters in the HVAC systems on campus. In addition to our regular filter inspection program, Facilities staff are also performing out of cycle inspections on main air handling unit (AHU) filters that have not been checked since March 1, 2020. All main AHU filters will be inspected by the end of August and replaced if necessary.
  • Continue to evaluate all HVAC systems to make sure all associated equipment is functioning properly and operating normally. Check filters regularly for loading capacity and for any leakage. Replace filters as needed or on the regular replacement cycle.

Building coordinators:

  • Contact UWF Customer Care if you have questions about or are having problems with the HVAC system in your building. In addition, UWF Engineering Services is evaluating the buildings on campus that utilize natural ventilation systems and will contact the relevant building coordinators with any special operational considerations. 

Building occupants

  • If you are located in a space with operable windows, opening the windows to increase airflow is acceptable, but please recognize that the HVAC systems were designed to operate with the windows closed to minimize complex factors affecting system operation. For security reasons and to prevent pest infestation, remember to close windows at night.

Plumbing systems (potable water)

Flushing water systems on a regular basis in unoccupied or low-occupancy buildings is an important way to reduce the risks of water-borne diseases from stagnant or standing water. 

In preparation for returning to the workplace, EH&S and Facilities have developed a water quality verification sampling protocol for facilities that have been shut down or in a reduced/low flow water state to verify the quality of the water in the potable water system.

UW Facilities

  • On a weekly basis, flush fixture groups (cold and hot) for restroom sinks, urinals, toilets, drinking (water) fountains/bottle fillers, kitchenette sinks and laboratory faucets (in teaching classrooms). This is a continuation of work that has been ongoing since the campus closed in March. Follow EH&S and public health guidance for flushing and representative testing if required.
  • Plumbing Shops have maintained domestic hot water and lab hot water systems on normal operating schedules, with no change to the temperature set point (typically > 120°F).

Building coordinators

  • Building Coordinators should continue weekly testing of emergency eyewashes in public corridors to flush water through the system. Principal Investigators are also asked to periodically flush eyewashes and laboratory faucets in research areas (once per week).
  • Contact UWF Customer Care if eyewashes or laboratory faucets cannot be flushed weekly.


UW Facilities

  • Custodial staff thoroughly clean and disinfect all restroom facilities at least once a day. Custodians will conduct a second high-touch point disinfection daily as well. Please do not enter restrooms while cleaning is in progress.
  • Facilities staff also flush water down every fixture on a weekly basis (see Plumbing Systems, above.) For this reason, unused toilets or urinals may not be covered or blocked.

Building coordinators

  • Install signage that indicates the capacity of the restroom on the door. A Restroom Capacity wall cling may be ordered from Creative Communications.
  • Follow the public restroom guidance issued by EH&S. If you need help in determining the appropriate capacity for your restroom, please contact EH&S for guidance.

Building occupants

  • When entering a restroom, assess the number of occupants and wait in the hallway if the facility is at capacity. Do not linger in restrooms. Keep your stay as short as possible and wear a face covering at all times.
  • Remember to physically distance yourself when in a restroom facility. In most cases, this will mean using every other urinal or lavatory (sink). Do not use adjacent fixtures.
  • Wait at least a minute to enter a stall after the toilet has been flushed by the prior user. Turn your head away from the toilet when flushing.
  • Adjacent stalls may be used when partitions are in place. In the example below, every other sink and urinal is blocked off, because there are no partitions. But the toilet stalls, which do have partitions, are not blocked off.


Instructional spaces

UW Facilities

  • Custodial Services will clean classrooms before the first class of the day and in between classes that are not scheduled back to back. The cleaning includes disinfection of high-touch points, sweeping and/or mopping floors as needed, cleaning the white board and/or chalkboard, and replenishing markers and/or chalk.

Building coordinators

Instructional support staff

  • Maintain inventory stock of supplies for safe classroom operation (staff and classroom occupants) available through the Safe and Clean Storefront:

    • Face coverings and masks

    • Cleaning solutions/sprays
    • Disinfectant wipes
    • Hand sanitizer
    • Gloves

Supplies for General Assignment and Health Sciences managed instructional spaces will be provided by those groups. Department-managed instructional spaces are responsible for their own supplies.

For additional detailed information regarding instructional spaces on campus, see the EH&S Covid-19 Prevention in Learning Spaces Guidance.

Conference rooms/shared spaces

Guidelines for safe occupancy of conference rooms and other indoor spaces will evolve based on where the University and the broader community are in terms of reopening. See the UW COVID-19 Safe Start status page for the latest information.

Building coordinators

  • Post signs on meeting room doors to indicate the maximum number of people allowed in the room during the current Safe Start phase. Consider removing chairs to help enforce occupancy limits.
  • Consider removing chairs from shared kitchen or other indoor spaces to encourage physical distancing.
  • Changing rooms within buildings may remain open, as long as physical distancing practices are followed. Shower facilities should generally remain closed, but there may be exceptions for particular staff needs. Clearly mark showers as “open” or “closed.”

Building occupants

  • Use Zoom or other telework options when possible to hold meetings. Hold meetings that must be conducted in person in large enough spaces to allow for physical distancing.

For questions about cafeteria or food service facilities on campus, see the EH&S Food Establishment Reopening Guidance.

Change log

9/17/20:     Added Instructional spaces section.

9/15/20:     Links added to building checklist and restroom guidance documents from EH&S and to building systems curtailment web page.

8/27/20:     Added Restrooms and Visitor Log sections. Updated classroom cleaning plans in the Cleaning and Disinfection section and building occupant guidance in the HVAC section.

7/17/20:     Added information/links regarding HVAC systems and water testing protocol.

6/29/20:     First version of document published.