FALL 2020


After months of uncertainty and a shift to online instruction and telework the University of Utah is slowly making the transition from red to orange and yellow status. As this occurs classes will resume —in a mixture of in-person and hybrid delivery—on campus on August 24.

Of course, in order to protect the campus community and prevent an outbreak of COVID-19 certain safety procedures will be put in place.

A hybrid Fall 2020 Semester, with in-person classroom instruction beginning August 24 and finishing by Thanksgiving, November 26. The fall break (October 4-11) will be canceled and courses will be conducted either online or in-person. Following Thanksgiving, instruction will shift online from November 30 to December 3, with final exams held online December 7-11.  This shift to all-online instruction and exams after Thanksgiving is based on the strong advice of U of U Health epidemiologists and mirrors the approach of many of our national peers.



Campus Safety Precautions


Physical distancing protocols will be in place, including reduced capacity in classrooms and laboratories, restricted traffic patterns in hallways and wearing of face coverings in common indoor areas, including classrooms, and when maintaining a 6-foot distance is not possible outside. For those who do not have a face covering, the university will provide one. Hand sanitizer and wipes will be provided in every classroom and laboratory. As one would expect, these guidelines will require some changes to assigned classrooms and student/faculty schedules. We are working with space planning and the Registrar’s Office to make the best use of our classrooms. Full schedules will be available in June.

The University of Utah campus is not unlike a small town. To maintain health and safety on campus, students, faculty and staff will have shared responsibility for maintaining physical distance, wearing masks and keeping classroom and office spaces clean. Training will be required for all members of our campus community. We are working with university medical researchers and providers to determine what form of testing protocol may be helpful as we return to campus. Those who come to class showing symptoms of COVID-19 will be asked to see their doctor for a referral to be tested and then to isolate at home. Likewise, those who come to class without wearing a face covering will be asked to leave. Absences in these circumstances will be excused.



In order to return to campus safely we have developed specific trainings for students as well as staff and faculty to complete. Safety training will be required for all members of the community before they return to campus. The training will include proper sanitation, hygiene and social distancing practices. After training is completed community members will be asked to sign an attestation stating they will adhere to all safety protocols.

Please select from the following trainings and complete them before returning to campus:




Face coverings (e.g. mask, scarf, gaiter, bandana) are required inside university buildings and in outdoor public settings where physical distancing measures are difficult to maintain. Face coverings must cover both the nose and the mouth. Plastic face shields do not meet this requirement.

Health and safety guidance cannot anticipate every unique situation. Therefore, individuals on campus must take personal responsibility to be informed and take actions based on common sense and wise judgment that will protect health and support the mission of the university.

It is important to recognize that the primary purpose of wearing a face covering is to prevent the spread of the disease by those with the virus – they are not necessarily to protect you, but those around you and the environment.

The following guidelines are meant to minimize ambiguity and promote consistency across campus in complying with face covering expectations:

  • All employees of the university are required to wear face coverings while working on campus as a condition of their employment. For more information click here.
  • Students must wear face coverings in class. Those who come to class without a face covering will be asked to put one on, or a faculty member may choose to cancel the class. Repeated violations may result in more progressive sanctions.
  • Face coverings (cloth masks, scarves, gaiters, bandanas) are required in all common areas in campus buildings such as hallways, restrooms, lounge areas, classrooms, conference rooms, etc.
  • Face coverings should be changed or laundered routinely.
  • Face coverings are not expected in office areas occupied by a single individual.
  • Individuals working in an open office environment (e.g. cubicles) where multiple employees may be in proximity to one another for extended periods of time must wear face coverings while others are present.
  • Face coverings are not required outside buildings if physical distancing is maintained (6 ft).
  • While working with chemical, biological, or radioactive hazards or in animal holding areas, disposable surgical face masks are preferred. These should be disposed whenever they become contaminated, wet, soiled, or at the end of each work day. If reusable face coverings are used in these areas, they should be dedicated to lab use only and laundered daily.
    • Extra care must be taken to not touch face coverings while working in a lab to prevent contamination of the covering.
    • For work in Biosafety Level 2 or higher laboratories, the face mask must not be removed from the laboratory and must be discarded with other disposable PPE as biohazardous waste.
  • Face coverings are not expected in break room areas while eating, however, break periods should be rotated to minimize the number of people present in the break room area, physical distancing of 6 feet must be maintained, and all users should clean and sanitize the break room area after each use. Food and drink are not allowed in any University lab.
  • In certain cases use of a face covering is not advised, such as in the case of sufferers of extreme claustrophobia or people with breathing difficulties. These cases should be addressed on a case-by-case basis with the individual’s supervisor and if necessary with the Office of Equal Opportunity. Should the use of a face covering not be advised, individuals must maintain proper physical distancing of 6 feet or more at all times and follow all CDC guidelines.
  • All faculty, staff and students should complete the “Returning to Campus Safely” training that will soon be available.



Criteria for Moving From Yellow Back to Orange

Under the Yellow guidelines, more people will be in research spaces increasing the difficulty of social distancing and, therefore, the risk of virus transmission.

Please remember:

  • Do not come to work if you have any flu like symptoms.
  • Do not come to work if you have been exposed to anyone diagnosed with COVID-19. Remember they may have been contagious for up to 3 days prior to showing symptoms.  Self-isolate for at least 14 days from your last contact.
  • If you are tested for COVID-19, complete the University of Utah COVID-19 reporting form

COVID-19 Reporting Form

If someone in a laboratory or office has been diagnosed with COVID-19, the lab or office will be closed for 7 days from the time of their last entry.  Anyone who had contact with the person (including during the 3 day period prior to developing symptoms) must remain at home and self-isolate for 14 days.

If there is an indication that there has been transmission in the research space or building (i.e., a cluster of 2 or more cases) the building will be closed for 7 days. Anyone who had contact with the persons (including during the 3 day period prior to developing symptoms) must remain at home and self-isolate for 14 days.

If more than one cluster is identified on campus, EHS will recommend reverting to Orange Status for at least 7 days after the last date of entry of the affected persons. The campus will only revert to Yellow status upon approval of the VPR and the President.



Guidelines for the fall semester will require some changes to assigned classrooms and student/faculty schedules. Preserving the in-person college experience of our first-year students and helping seniors complete their degrees are our guiding principles for the 2020-2021 Academic Year. Almost half of all University of Utah courses have 25 students or fewer. Those courses may be scheduled first to reduce disruptions to the Fall 2020 course schedule

Other courses may be offered in a hybrid (some online/some in-person) or alternating attendance format. Online resources and digital technology will be maximized for every course. Faculty will provide syllabi and regular class communications through Canvas. Recorded and streamed lectures through Zoom and other digital technology will be used regularly.

All students will be required to complete online training before returning to campus. That training will be available soon.

More Information

CARES Act emergency fund information


Enhanced return-to-work protocols will be in place for all faculty, staff and students. Every university employee will be required to complete an online public health and safety course. In addition, reasonable accommodations will be given to high-risk employees who qualify for protection under the Americans with Disability Act (ADA). If the high-risk employee doesn’t qualify for an ADA accommodation, they may be provided temporary work adjustments, at the discretion of the Dean/Director. Requests for exceptions to working on campus in the fall will be reviewed by Human Resources, deans and department chairs using fair, objective and consistent criteria. A process to request temporary work modifications will be forthcoming shortly.

More Information

Return to Campus Safely Training

PPE and sanitation supply ordering