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Workplace Expectations

  • Individuals who can effectively conduct their work remotely should continue to work remotely so as not to place themselves or others at unnecessary risk.
  • Individuals who have been instructed to return to on-site work and wish to request a disability accommodation (e.g., for disabilities that place individuals at higher risk for severe illness from COVID-19) should contact the Equal Opportunity and Compliance Office at
  • The University will provide guidance separately on requests for workplace flexibility for other situations, such as individuals who are at higher risk due to age or other factors, as set forth under CDC guidelines, or individuals who live with those who are high-risk.

Symptoms Monitoring

  • All research faculty, employees and trainees must conduct a daily review of COVID-19 symptoms before returning to work. At this time, those symptoms include:
    • Cough
    • Shortness of breath or difficulty breathing
    • Fever
    • Repeated shaking with chills
    • Muscle pain
    • Sore throat
    • New gastrointestinal symptoms
    • Sudden loss of taste or smell
  • Anyone who is experiencing any of the above symptom(s) must not come to campus.
    • This requirement does not apply to persons with symptom(s) known to be attributable to an existing condition unrelated to COVID-19.
  • Persons exhibiting COVID-19 symptoms should contact their health care provider and act upon their instructions. UNC employees may also contact the University Employee Occupational Health Clinic (919–966–9119), and UNC students and post docs may contact UNC Campus Health (919–966–2281).
  • Any individual who has tested positive for COVID-19, who has been referred for testing or who is awaiting test results, may not come to work on campus for any reason until approved to do so by Employee Occupational Health or Campus Health.

Personal Safety Practices in the Workplace

Community Protective Equipment (CPE)

  • While in a University facility, all individuals must wear a University-approved face mask when in the presence of others and in public settings where physical distancing measures are difficult to maintain (e.g., conference rooms and common work spaces). Acceptable face mask options will be available at the UNC Environment Health & Safety website.
  • Face Masks: The University will provide cloth face masks to research employees and trainees.
    • Disposable 3-ply masks are available for circumstances where cloth masks are not appropriate.
    • These masks will be distributed to ‘distribution coordinators’ for each school, department, and/or center and these individuals are responsible for distribution to research personnel.
    • Face masks  may be of different types, including cloth face masks, disposable medical/surgical masks and respirators, but  should at minimum meet the following criteria:
      • Be secured by ties or ear loops;
      • Allow for unrestricted breathing; and
      • In the case of cloth face masks, be able to be laundered and dried without damage or change to shape.Fit snugly and securely  over the mouth and nose and against the side of the  face;
    • University employees are not required to wear a mask while working alone in a private workspace. A face mask must be worn in common  workspaces  or when others are present in the employee’s  workspace. 
    • Face  masks that meet the minimum criteria listed above must be worn by all students, staff, faculty and visitors while inside a University building. This includes all in-person classroom settings, public or communal work areas, libraries, dining settings and residence hall common areas.
    • Face masks  must be worn by all students, staff, faculty and visitors  while  outdoors on University property where appropriate physical distancing cannot be maintained. This includes areas like The Pit, the quads and other outdoor gathering spaces.
    • Face masks must be worn by all students, staff, faculty and visitors  while using University shuttles (e.g., P2P) and other forms of public transportation serving the campus (e.g., Chapel Hill Transit buses).
    • NOTE:  Wearing a face mask is not a substitute for appropriate physical distancing. All members of the University community should maintain appropriate physical distancing whenever feasible.
    • All students, staff, and faculty should familiarize themselves with the  appropriate handling, cleaning  and disposal of their face masks. Following the handling of any face mask (including placing on and removal from one’s face),  the wearer should immediately wash or sterilize their hands. After use, reusable masks should be stored in an appropriate manner (e.g., a paper bag). Disposable masks should be thrown away  immediately in an appropriate trash receptacle
    • UNC’s Department of Environment, Health and Safety will provide instructions on how to properly care for and store masks.
  • Gloves: According to the CDC, gloves are not necessary for general use and do not replace good hand hygiene. Frequent hand-washing is considered the best practice for common everyday tasks. Employees who will be interacting with the public or operating in a public setting where materials will be frequently exchanged are advised to wear disposable gloves. The University will provide gloves for these individuals. Instructions for how to remove and dispose of gloves properly will be available at the UNC Environment Health & Safety website.

Physical Distancing


  • When on campus, all individuals must maintain appropriate physical distancing – a minimum of 6 feet distance (or 200 square feet per person) – from others at all times while wearing a face mask.
  • Assembling or convening in groups of greater than 10 people poses a significant risk of viral transmission and is not permitted.
  • Individuals should avoid holding open exterior doors for others as doing so would likely compromise the required physical distancing.

Common Areas and Meeting Rooms

  • Common areas such as break rooms, offices, restrooms, elevators, and conference rooms should be used only while adhering to physical distancing guidance.
  • Departments should remove or rearrange chairs and tables or add visual cue marks in meeting rooms to support physical distancing practices between attendees.
  • All persons should wear a face mask while in common rooms (even if others are not present) to provide protection in the event other people walk in.
  • Room occupancy limits must be defined and clearly stated through appropriate signage for each laboratory. Personnel should confirm that the occupancy limit has not been reached before entering a lab or office.
  • Where possible, meetings should be convened and conducted virtually. If a meeting must be held in person, physical distancing requirements apply and a minimum of 200 square feet per person must be available at all times.


  • Physical distancing of 6 feet should be observed at all times, including when eating or talking to someone in the workplace.
  • Individuals are encouraged to eat meals outside, if possible.
  • Meals should not be eaten in laboratory areas. They should be eaten alone or properly distanced from other individuals.
  • If common areas such as break rooms and conference areas, etc. are used for meals, the person using them must wipe down surfaces using a 70% ethanol or equivalent solution.


  • Use of elevators is subject to the required physical distancing guidance.
  • Wash your hands or use hand sanitizers upon departing an elevator.
  • Use the stairs whenever possible and do not congregate in entrances, stairwells and elevator lobbies.

Directional Signage for Elevators, Meeting Spaces, etc.

  • UNC Creative has made available a suite of UNC branded signage for hallways, elevators, meeting spaces, and more. These resources can be downloaded from the Brand Templates drop-down menu on the UNC Creative downloads page.

Hygiene and Cleaning


  • Although already a best practice for all researchers and trainees, during the pandemic it is imperative that hand washing become more frequent and more thorough. Hands should be washed for at least 20 seconds.
  • Hands should be washed before interacting with a research participant and immediately after the session is over.
  • Please view the CDC’s “Five Steps to Wash Your Hands the Right Way.”
  • Also please view the CDC video on handwashing.
  • Provide guests the opportunity to wash hands if they are visiting you in your facility.
  • If hand washing is not an available option, use hand sanitizer to disinfect hands.
  • All individuals should thoroughly wash their hands or use provided hand sanitizer:
    • At least hourly,
    • Before entering or exiting buildings, laboratories or offices if they have been in a public space or near others, and
    • Before and after handling their facemask.
  • Hand sanitizer will be made available throughout University facilities.

Cleaning and Sanitizing

  • Research work may involve the frequent use of shared equipment. The University is increasing the cleaning frequency of common/public spaces; however, it is critical that all faculty, staff, and students share the responsibility of cleaning and sanitizing high-touch surfaces in their workspaces (e.g., light switches, doorknobs, etc.).
  • Cleaning products and hand sanitizers will be provided by the University for this purpose. Supplies will be distributed to ‘distribution coordinators’ for each school, department, and/or center and these individuals are responsible for distribution to research personnel.
  • Occupants of all research facilities should clean/wipe all high-touch surfaces when beginning work, at the end of the day, and at least four additional times daily.
  • Shared equipment should be cleaned and wiped after each use.

Safety Monitoring

  • Research facilities and buildings will be periodically monitored to ensure required safety measures are being practiced.
  • If an employee is found to be out of compliance with the required practices, they will be counseled on the need for compliance with the required practices outlined in this guidance. Further instances of non-compliance may result in the employee being subject to disciplinary measures in accordance with applicable University policies.
  • Compliance with required practices is a shared community responsibility.
  • Individuals may report non-compliance by calling the Ethics Point Hotline at (866) 294–8688.

Visitor Policy

  • Guests, visiting trainees, and other persons not affiliated with UNC should not visit University facilities or offices.
  • Children are not permitted in University research facilities or offices during the COVID-19 event.
  • Visitor restrictions do not apply to individuals participating in research studies being conducted in University facilities or to persons permitted on campus under the terms of a facility use agreement (FUA).