Safe Campus Practices

Updated: January 13, 2022

Below is an alphabetical list of miscellaneous topics that are peripheral to our academic and operational policies, procedures, and guidelines. Please see Yale’s COVID-19 website and Workplace Guidance Page for important information on returning to work, daily health checks, physical distancing, occupancy guidance, and more. HSLs, managers, administrators, and unit leads can see additional planning guidance. Please also refer to Occupancy Requirements and Limits for campus spaces.

For additional information, please see the CDC guidance on personal and social activities for vaccinated and unvaccinated people.

Air Purifiers (Portable)

Buildings on campus have been evaluated by Facilities to ensure conformance to the latest CDC guidance and American Society of Heating, Refrigerating, and Air-Conditioning Engineers (ASHRAE) standards.

These evaluations have resulted in the addition of higher levels of filtration installed on mechanical equipment as necessary, and may also include deployment of additional filtration within interior locations, including local air purifiers. Only those areas where additional filtration is recommended by Facilities or EHS will be provided these portable air purifiers.

If you desire an air purifier, it may be purchased separately with approval and consultation from EHS or Facilities. There are many types of air purifiers; EHS and/or Facilities can advise on the appropriate style and size. (Yale University’s Purchase of Restricted Items Policy requires approval from EHS or Facilities for the purchase of an air purifier.)


Classrooms

Students are not permitted to remove their masks in the classroom.

For classrooms, there is no distancing requirement for vaccinated students. Vaccinated students who do not need to physically distance should respect and accommodate those who prefer or need to physical distance.

While vaccinated and unvaccinated students do not need to sit separately in classrooms, students who need or want to distance should seek areas of a room that allow physical distancing. Arriving early will facilitate this. As others approach, ask them to respect your need to distance.

See Mask Guidance for masking and distancing requirements for instructors.

Yale Facilities Operations and EHS have evaluated, enhanced, and verified the ventilation systems in all classrooms. If you have questions about a space, contact your Facilities Superintendent or EHS Safety Advisor for an evaluation.


Cleaning

Facilities and Hospitality are cleaning and disinfecting all university spaces in accordance with current CDC guidance and in alignment with Yale’s EHS and Public Health Committee approvals. Disinfecting wipes are provided at all classrooms, conference rooms, breakrooms, and other common areas for further cleaning and disinfection. See below for cleaning Shared Surfaces and Objects.

When someone tests positive for COVID-19, EHS is notified to determine which spaces need additional attention. Facilities mobilizes when EHS directs specific spaces to be additionally disinfected.


Coffee Makers and Refrigerators

Local coffee makers and refrigerators (e.g., departmental) may be used on campus, but frequently touched surfaces should be cleaned often. Disinfecting wipes work well. Use disposable or personal beverage containers.


Computer Workstations (Shared)

Computer workstations may be shared as long as touched surfaces are cleaned after use by the user.


Cubicles

Masks are not required when alone in a segregated space, such as when working in a private office or seated in a partitioned cubicle. Since cubicle arrangements vary greatly, EHS is available to perform an on-site evaluate of your work space and building ventilation to help determine optimal distancing and masking practices for people working in cubicles, study carrels, etc. Please contact your Safety Advisor.


Events, Meetings, Gatherings, and Activities

NOTE: Until February 21, 2022 all events, gatherings, and meetings of any size require advance approval or reapproval by the COVID Review Team or cognizant HSL. See Yale’s Events, Gatherings & Meetings requirements for more.

All academic and social events, meetings, gatherings, and activities for students, faculty and staff of any size (other than those occurring as a regular part of a course or class on the scheduled academic calendar) must comply with Yale’s Events, Gatherings & Meetings requirements.

These requirements also apply to all business or social gatherings in administrative units. Contact your unit’s Health and Safety Leader if you have questions.

With high vaccination rates and verified indoor ventilation at Yale, the campus is the safest place to be. If you go off-campus or attend an event not sponsored by Yale, beware that many unvaccinated individuals may be present. Crowded, indoor events with few masks are the highest risk. Even if vaccinated, you risk infection and transmitting the disease to others. Don’t bring COVID-19 back to campus.

To maximize the safety of any gathering (including on and off-campus, Yale-sponsored or not):

  • Minimize the gathering size. Larger gatherings mean higher risk. Consider holding two smaller gatherings instead of a one large gathering.
  • It is best to hold the gathering outdoors to maximize ventilation and allow distancing.
  • Unvaccinated individuals should remain masked and maintain 6-foot distancing at all times.
  • Occupancy in spaces for congregating is generally governed by available seating and/or typical occupancy.
  • Where possible, a 75% capacity limit is recommended to facilitate distancing. For benches and chair placement, this can be achieved by planning a 33-36” head-to-head spacing of attendees.
  • Avoid/leave crowded venues that do not allow distancing.
  • When eating and drinking, step aside so that you are not face-to-face with another person.
  • At dense social gatherings, encourage everyone to wear a mask—even people who are vaccinated.
  • Limiting duration reduces the chances of transmission.
  • Avoid objects touched by others. Do not share pens, utensils, plates or cups. Use hand sanitizer after touching doorknobs, switches, handles, handrails or elevator buttons.

Singing, loud speech, dancing, or other high-exertion exercise increase the risk of transmission to individuals both indoors and outdoors.

Transmission risks often increase when alcohol is served, as people may forgo masking and distancing practices, and conversations typically become louder.


Field Trips

Off-campus, university sponsored trips (e.g., apple picking, student association events, etc.) must comply with Yale’s Events, Gatherings & Meetings requirements. Participants should be cautious of contact with people outside of the Yale community if their vaccination status is unknown. If the event includes proximity activities (e.g., being shoulder-to-shoulder in a crowd), masks should be worn even if outdoors. Otherwise, consider masking if closer than 6 feet to others. Avoid off-site indoor activities and commonly touched objects. Use hand sanitizer and disinfecting wipes where necessary. Participants traveling to the event in shared transportation should consult EHS vehicle guidance for up-to-date recommendations.


Food and Drink Service

NOTE: When food and/or drink are involved in a group activity, it is considered an event or gathering. Until February 21, 2022 all events, gatherings, and meetings of any size require advance approval or reapproval by the COVID Review Team or cognizant HSL. See Yale’s Events, Gatherings & Meetings requirements for more.

Follow these precautions for food and drink service for both indoor and outdoor meetings and gatherings.

Offering breakfast items or afternoon snacks in a meeting or lecture room is OK but serving meals or sandwiches in a classroom or lecture hall is not recommended. For noontime seminars, offering grab-and-go food as people leave is preferred.

Coffee and drink dispensers are permitted. Provide disinfecting wipes and encourage users to periodically clean frequently touched surfaces.

Food and drink may be provided at indoor and outdoor meetings and events with these precautions:

  • Provide hand sanitizer so people clean their hands before obtaining or consuming their food and drink.
  • Prevent crowding and close contact by asking people to provide 2-plus feet of distance from others while queueing for food or drink.
  • If possible, spread out the placement of provided food platters, trays, drink dispensers, etc. to facilitate distancing while people get their food and drink.
  • Provide additional space for people who want or need to distance 6 feet from others.
  • People should wear masks while obtaining their food. This precaution makes sense both indoors and outdoors as it guards against transmission of COVID and other winter respiratory diseases.
  • At meetings or breaks, self-service (using tongs) is permitted for individual food items, such as bagels, muffins, pastries, cookies, etc. While individual packaging or wrapping is not required, it is highly recommended because it offers an extra layer of protection against transmission of COVID and winter respiratory diseases. Individual fruit cups or parfaits are a safe self-service option.
  • Individually bottled or pre-poured drinks can be self-serve at receptions and events.
  • Individual hors d’oeuvres, appetizers, and small bites, can be self-serve (using tongs) at receptions and events.
  • For receptions and events using buffet-type service (for example, trays of pasta or salad) individual servings should be plated by a masked server. Student leaders and staff members who serve food must be vaccinated.
  • If drinks are poured, a masked server should do the pouring. 
  • Receptions and events that provide a meal should be served on a plate, via buffet-type service (described above), or by self-service of individually wrapped items.
  • At lunches or dinners, self-service of individually wrapped items is permitted
  • Do not permit self-service from serving trays, steam tables, or salad bars.
  • After the event, eating and contact surfaces should be cleaned with disinfecting wipes.

A 75% capacity limit is recommended to facilitate distancing indoors. As described above, this can be achieved by planning a 33-36” head-to-head spacing of attendees.

Food trucks are allowable as long as the food is individually served, and queueing is controlled as described above.

See below for guidance on safe eating and drinking.


Gyms, Fitness Centers, and Recreation Rooms

Yale Athletics has posted COVID safety rules for their fitness, recreation, and athletic facilities, including the Payne Whitney Gym.

The following rules are for other campus and residential college gyms and recreation rooms.

Fitness center rules for all users:

  • A face mask must be worn if another person is in the gym.
  • When using gym equipment (e.g., treadmill, elliptical, weights, etc.) 6-foot distancing must always be maintained. (To ensure distancing, we suggest marking some closely-spaced equipment “do not use.”)
  • Users must wipe all shared objects and key equipment touch points with disinfectant wipes or other appropriate disinfecting cleaning product before and after use.

Masked vaccinated individuals may fully engage in basketball and squash. Masked unvaccinated individuals may shoot baskets (e.g., play HORSE) while maintaining 6-foot distancing from others.

These rules are to be posted in campus gyms, fitness centers, and recreation rooms.


Mask Guidance

Please see EHS’s Mask Guidance for the latest university requirements.


Meals, Eating, and Drinking

The following guidance is intended for personal use when eating on and off campus, and when eating in private or in groups. Additional requirements apply to food and eating at academic and social events, meetings, gatherings, and activities.

If you are unvaccinated, you must maintain a 6-foot distance from others at all times, including while eating or drinking. While masked, unvaccinated individuals may serve their own food.

Vaccinated individuals are not required to distance while eating or drinking.

Observe these precautions:

  • Minimize your time unmasked.
  • Indoor eating is OK. The safest indoor places to eat are in private spaces or uncrowded public spaces that are mechanically or naturally ventilated.
  • When others are present, distance as much as possible. Choose an uncrowded area to sit and eat—ideally one that allows 3-4 feet of distancing.
  • Minimize your time in communal dining areas.
  • Minimize unmasked conversations.
  • If in groups, minimize the group size.
  • Outdoor eating is strongly preferred. Additional tents, tables, and benches have been set up on campus to facilitate eating outdoors.

After eating meals or drinking re-mask immediately and wash your hands or use hand sanitizer.


Residential College Spaces

Please follow Yale’s current masking guidance. Masking is not required when roommates are in their suites. Everyone should be masked when non-roommates are present in the ensuite common room.

Unvaccinated individuals need to maintain 6-foot distancing from others. Accommodations should be made for those who prefer or need to physical distance. See Requirements for Physical Distancing.

During mealtimes, occupancy in dining halls will be governed by available seating, which may change over the course of the year. Since masks are removed for eating, it is a higher risk activity and eating outdoors is encouraged. Dining hall occupancy limits for after hour activities will be specified and may be more restrictive.

Except as otherwise noted, spaces for congregating will be open with occupancy governed by available seating and the need for unvaccinated people to maintain 6-foot physical distancing from others while indoors. Activities must be non-aerosolizing. Avoid crowding and allow sufficient space for those who need or want to distance, especially in ensuite common rooms. Do not add chairs or seating to a space to exceed normal capacity.

Events, gatherings, and meetings (e.g., a film screening in a college theater) must comply with Yale’s Events, Gatherings & Meetings policy. Direct exception requests to Melanie Boyd (Yale College Health and Safety Leader) and ycdo.healthandsafety@yale.edu.

The capacity of butteries and kitchens must comply with Yale’s Events, Gatherings & Meetings requirements. Eating and drinking in butteries and kitchens should follow the Meals, Eating, and Drinking guidance, above. Food should be individually served by a server (not self-serve) or in individual plates/bowls.

Shared surfaces and objects should be cleaned as explained below. Keep disinfecting wipes handy.

For gyms, basketball courts, and squash courts, see guidelines for Gyms, Fitness Centers, and Recreation Rooms, above.

For questions, please contact Melanie Boyd with a copy to ycdo.healthandsafety@yale.edu.

Music Practice Rooms and Recording Studios

Contact the Head of College office to request use of these rooms.

Unvaccinated individuals may only use these spaces if no one else is in the space (solo use). After use, unvaccinated users should put a note on the door to allow a 15-minute vacant rest period to allow aerosols to disperse.

Vaccinated individuals may use these spaces if no one else is in the space (solo use) with no additional restrictions.

Use of these spaces by more than one individual requires everyone present to be vaccinated, asymptomatic, and masked at all times. Wind instruments must use slitted masks and bell covers. Follow the protocols posted at Fall 2021 COVID Policy for Performing Arts.

Dance Studios

Protocols for dance activities are posted at Fall 2021 COVID Policy for Performing Arts.


Physical Distancing

Please see Requirements for Physical Distancing.


Shared Surfaces and Objects

While Yale custodians conduct more frequent and thorough cleaning, all members of the Yale community need to help keep workplaces clean. 

Facilities will clean daily the common high-touch surfaces that are frequently touched by multiple people, such as:

  • Bathroom faucets and toilets
  • Office break areas/kitchens
  • Door handles, light switches, and handrails.
  • Drinking fountains

Students and staff are responsible for daily cleaning of:

  • Desks
  • Workstations
  • Printer/copiers
  • Other shared equipment

Some shared objects should be cleaned with disinfecting wipes before and after use. These include:

  • Gym and other sports equipment
  • Shared objects in studios and game rooms

Disinfecting wipes should be made available to staff for disinfection of office and other shared equipment. Lead Administrators may order wipes via the Yale Printing and Publishing Services website.


Student Organizations

Please see the COVID Policy for Registered Undergraduate Yale Student Organizations.


UV Lights

Due to multiple safety concerns, the use of UV lights for disinfection is not recommended. Please contact ehs@yale.edu for information or proposed uses.


Water Fountains/Bottle Filling Stations

Campus water fountains and bottle filling stations may be used, unless otherwise noted.


Frequently Asked Questions

Why does Yale discourage events and gatherings at off-campus restaurants and other venues?

COVID-19 is readily transmitted via aerosols in poorly ventilated indoor spaces. Unlike Yale buildings, most restaurants and off-campus venues have not been upgraded to meet safe COVID-19 ventilation standards. Meeting these standards requires sophisticated and expensive adjustments to supplied fresh air, circulation rates, and filtration—and they raise the cost of operating these systems. Compared to campus, restaurant wait staff are more likely to be unvaccinated and symptomatic. Indoor dining is particularly risky during the winter because dry air extends the duration and spread of aerosols that may contain COVID-19 or other winter respiratory diseases.