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Campus Safety

Comprehensive COVID-19 Safety

UC San Diego’s Return to Learn Program is guided by three evidence-based pillars: risk mitigation, viral detection and intervention. These recommended guidelines can help reduce your risk of contracting or spreading COVID-19 when used consistently.

As illustrated in the model below, no single defense method is invulnerable, but by applying multiple layers of defense, you can offset the weakness in any single layer. These layers include screening and testing, quarantine after exposure, isolation after a positive test, utilizing the CA Notify app, wearing a mask and getting vaccinated. This illustration was adapted from the Swiss Cheese Model developed by James Reason, Ph.D.

Swiss Cheese Model. Reduce your COVID-19 risk with multiple layers of defense.


Face Coverings

Wear a mask

All campus members and visitors should have a mask with them at all times while on campus. The campus recommends the use of N-95 and KN-95 masks. A face covering/face mask DOES NOT include a scarf, ski mask, balaclava, bandana, gaiter, turtleneck, collar, plastic face shield, or single layer of fabric. Read the full masking policy online.

If a campus community member or visitor does not have a face covering while on campus, they will be provided with one or required to purchase one. University guidance will continue to evolve as Federal, State and County guidance is modified in response to the current public health environment.

For proper use, the face covering must cover both the nose and mouth. Further information can be found at the Campus Guidance on Use of Face Coverings to Prevent Community Spread of COVID-19 webpage.

General guidelines for outdoor settings:

All students, faculty and staff are encouraged, but not required, to wear masks outdoors while on campus. Attendees at outdoor campus events must wear a face mask if required by the event organizer. Vaccinated students and campus employees who have been exposed to the SARS-CoV-2 virus must also mask outdoors.

General guidelines for indoor settings:

Regardless of vaccination status, all persons must wear a mask or face covering at all indoor locations at UC San Diego. This includes shopping, dining areas, public transportation (including any UC vehicle transporting employees or students from different households), exercising, studying indoors at a location that is not your primary residence, attending indoor business meetings and indoor events. Laboratory settings require everyone to be masked.

Guidelines for eating indoors:

  • Fully vaccinated students and employees may remove masks while actively eating and drinking at campus eateries, at the employee’s workstation, in an employee break room, or at an event or meeting.
  • Unvaccinated students and employees must continue to eat either alone in a closed office or closed room, or physically distanced from others outdoors.

Exceptions for indoor masking:

  • Not required within primary residence.
  • Not required while driving in a car alone or solely with members of your household.
  • Not required while working alone in a closed office or room.
  • Not required for those who are obtaining a medical or cosmetic service involving the nose or face for which temporary removal of the face covering is necessary to perform the service.
  • Not required for workers who wear respiratory protection, or persons who are specifically exempted from wearing face coverings by other CDPH guidance.
  • Not required for persons younger than two years old.
  • Not required for persons who are hearing impaired, or communicating with a person who is hearing impaired, where the ability to see the mouth is essential for communication or persons for whom wearing a face covering would create a risk to the person related to their work, as determined by local, state, or federal regulators or workplace safety guidelines.
  • Not required for performers while actively rehearsing or performing, provided such performers are in compliance with the Theatre and Dance Maskless Rehearsal and Performance Protocol.
Campus guidance will continue to evolve as Federal, State and County guidance is modified in response to the current public health environment. This guidance will be in effect until further notice.

Indoor Meetings

Indoor meetings include academic classes or seminars, department meetings, laboratory meetings or other routine business meetings. Meeting organizers are strongly encouraged to consider holding their meetings outdoors if food and drink are to be served and conditions allow. Guidelines for those planning or attending indoor meetings on campus:

  • Every attendee must be masked.
  • Follow posted room capacities.
  • No attendee is required to provide proof of vaccination status.
  • Participants, attendees and organizers include all categories of campus constituents: students, employees, guests, contractors and volunteers.
  • Organizers should provide a remote meeting attendance option when hosting an in-person meeting.
  • Food and drink may be served and consumed at indoor meetings, and vaccinated attendees may be unmasked while actively eating or drinking, providing the following:
    • The cognizant vice chancellor has approved the consumption of food and drink at the meeting AND
    • Attendance at the meeting is either voluntary or, if attendance is required, an option for virtual attendance is provided.

Symptom and Exposure Screening

Complete symptom screening
  • All UC San Diego students who reside on campus, and students who reside in the San Diego region planning to physically come onto the campus for various activities, such as attending an in-person class, are expected to participate in daily symptom and exposure screening before arrival. The symptom-screening tool can be accessed from a computer or mobile device.
  • Non-vaccinated students who are currently living in University-owned housing or coming to campus for any reason must continue to complete the symptom screener daily.
  • Fully vaccinated students will need to continue the daily symptom screening if they are living in University-owned housing/coming to campus for any reasons.
  • All UC San Diego staff, faculty, student employees, and individuals who are working in a research lab who are reporting to campus or any other physical UC San Diego location for work must conduct a daily symptom and exposure screening for COVID-19 before arrival and report any symptoms or confirmed exposures for days that they will be on site. The symptom-screening tool can be accessed from a computer or mobile device.
  • Employees required to return to campus are required to complete the COVID-19 Return to Work Training.
  • Employees must sign the training roster, indicating that they have read and understand the department/group’s specific Social Distancing and Sanitation Protocol. Supervisors will review the training record and sign the roster, verifying that the employee understands the requirements. 
  • Learn more about how the university treats the information we process as part of the Symptom and Exposure Screening Program.

COVID-19 Testing

Vaccinated students and employees: Asymptomatic testing as needed
Unvaccinated students and employees: Ongoing twice weekly testing required (every 3-5 days)

All students and employees who develop symptoms of COVID-19 should conduct a test. Also, all residential students regardless of vaccination status are required to test if there is a positive wastewater signal in their building. It is recommended that all students and employees who have used the restroom facilities, regardless of vaccination status, in a facility with a positive wastewater signal should test.

Testing Options

  • Self-administered test kits from 20 campus vending machines (no appointment needed)
  • Provider-observed, self-administered testing at Price Center (appointment needed)
  • Provider-administered testing via drive thru (appointment needed)

    Learn more and schedule your test.

Physical Distancing

Physical distancing protocols for campus have ended, unless an area or group is specifically directed otherwise.

Student Housing Safety Rules

Students who live in UC San Diego-provided housing must comply with mandatory COVID-19 testing, daily symptom screening, and masking guidance; isolate if they receive a positive COVID-19 test result; follow quarantine guidance if they are exposed to COVID-19; as well as sequester if they are unvaccinated and participate in off-campus unmasked activities. Visit the UC San Diego Student Housing Safety Rules webpage for more information.

Protect yourself

Wash your hands Public areas (lobbies, meeting rooms, study rooms, laundry rooms, restrooms, etc.) and high-touch areas (door handles, elevator buttons, etc.) will be disinfected frequently. Hand sanitizer will be available at various entry points, dining facilities, study and other public areas.

Engagement and Intervention

We are counting on the members of our campus community to comply with these requirements to promote the health and welfare of all. Non-compliance is subject to progressive engagement and discipline, in accordance with appropriate policies and processes for students, faculty, and staff.

COVID-19 Testing Noncompliance

Under PPM 516-31, mandatory COVID-19 twice-weekly testing applies to students who are not fully vaccinated and are on campus for educational, research, co-curricular, recreational, or social activities (including all students living in University-owned housing). Please see the testing policy here. As such, unless granted a special exemption approved by Student Health Services, students 9 days out of compliance with this policy will be referred to the Student Conduct Office for the progressive discipline process.


Throughout the pandemic, Resource Management and Planning (RMP) has continued to safely deliver essential services to the campus. In addition, UC San Diego’s Emergency Operations Center, led by the campus Environment, Health & Safety team, has been active since February, 2020 and continues to serve as the university’s hub for monitoring the pandemic, disseminating information, and providing expert support for all COVID-19 related matters. 

To protect all students, faculty and staff, UC San Diego has developed enhanced safety requirements for individuals arriving, working and living on all UC San Diego campuses, properties and locations. 

Cleaning Protocols

As faculty, staff, students, patients and visitors return to campus, Facilities Management is implementing many additional procedures to ensure our campus buildings are healthy and safe. Efforts include:

  • Daily disinfection of all building common surfaces and area touch points such as entrance doors and handles, lobby and interior elevator buttons, water fountains, counter tops, fauctes, hand rails and more. COVID-19 Disinfection Guidance can be found here.
  • Daily restroom sanitation for all campus core buildings, continuing to service high volume restrooms more frequently.
  • Working with our procurement teams and vendors to purchase new equipment, such as electric disinfectant sprayers and electrostatic backpack sprayers, that will allow staff to disinfect large areas quickly and efficiently.

While staff are cleaning and sanitizing common areas, we do not have the resources to clean every surface on campus multiple times a day. To ensure your safety, and the safety of your fellow Tritons, we are asking that everyone clean their own space by wiping all surfaces that you touch on a daily basis.

Personal Protective Equipment (PPE) Resources

UC San Diego’s Emergency Operations Center, in collaboration with Procurement and Facilities Management, provides a one-time “Welcome Kit” to all returning departments so that they are able to meet the required sanitation and health protocols. The kits include operational PPE for research units, an allotment of reusable face coverings and hand sanitizer for all returning employees, as well as self-cleaning supplies to enable those returning to clean their workspaces on a daily basis. A one-time initial supply kit can be requested here.

Ordering PPE through Oracle Procurement

UC San Diego’s IPPS Strategic Procurement and Logistics maintains a regularly stocked inventory of critical COVID-19 personal protective (PPE) items. Departments and labs can order PPE through Oracle Procurement via Single Sign On (SSO). The expected delivery time is two business days. Visit Ordering COVID-19 PPE on Blink for a list of available items and ordering guidance.

Ventilation and Water Quality

Facilities Management has upgraded ventilation and water quality in the following ways:

  • Upgraded all core funded buildings, where possible (90% of buildings), to MERV 14 or higher filters (hospital grade).
  • Adjusted ventilation settings in all occupied buildings to maximize air changes and fresh air within all spaces. This includes increased fan speeds and disinfection of cooling coils, condensate drains, changing pre and post filters and other items to ensure fresh air intakes are as clean as possible.
  • Removal of after-hours and night time schedules on heating, ventilation and air conditioning (HVAC) systems to ensure maximum fresh air circulation 24/7.
  • Routine flushing of domestic water systems and replacement of all drinking fountain water filters with increased filter change frequencies.

General Campus Operations

Numerous other operations have commenced at UC San Diego to help reduce the risk of transmission.

  • New flexible parking guidelines allow faculty and others to park closer (avoiding shared spaces on shuttles), at lower cost, and pay for just those days that they are parking on campus.  Details about new parking guidelines can be found here.
  • Signs across the campus and on all buildings alert and remind individuals of the various health and safety measures that are in place and have been recommended.

All campus construction projects have continued without interruption. Rigorous standards and protocols have been put in place to mitigate risk to the health and safety of the construction workers and the campus community. This includes daily symptom screening of all workers and visitors; extra cleaning and sanitation facilities; multiple work shifts to reduce density and professional hygiene; and cleaning and sanitation. We are closely monitoring all of our construction sites and do not believe there has been any community spread of the virus at this time. Safety protocols for on-campus construction contractors and contracted service providers can be found here.

Learn more about the campus’s modified operations and safety procedures.

Protecting Our Campus Community

If you live, work, or study on campus, you are unfortunately still at risk of developing COVID-19. The SARS-CoV- 2 virus that causes COVID-19 has the ability to spread wherever people congregate. Because of this, it is impossible to eliminate all risks of transmission among the campus population, even when the community is careful and abides by health and safety requirements. We are working diligently to protect our campus community, and we are following the instructions from state and local public health officials. For on-campus residents, we have a program in place for isolation housing, and our top-notch Student Health Services is available for all students. The campus is prepared to change our plans if necessary; if a major outbreak were to occur, our resources could become overwhelmed.