Urgent Message COVID-19 Updates »

Coronavirus Updates

For the most up-to-date news, please see the University’s official COVID‑19 information webpage.

Social Distancing

Keeping space between you and others is one of the best tools we have to avoid being exposed to the virus that causes COVID‑19 and slowing its spread. Since people can spread the virus before they know they are ill or even exposed, it is important to maintain physical distance from others when possible, even if you have no symptoms. Social distancing is important for everyone, especially to help protect people who are at higher risk of severe illness.

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Employees working on-site must follow these social distancing practices:

  • Stay at least 6 feet (about two arms’ length) from other people at all times.
  • Do not gather in groups of more than five.
  • Stay out of crowded places, and avoid mass gatherings.

Masks/Cloth Face Coverings

Masks or cloth face coverings must be worn by all employees working on campus when in the presence of others and in public settings where other social distancing measures are difficult to maintain (e.g., common work spaces, classrooms, meeting rooms). This includes outdoor spaces where social distancing is not possible.

Employees who are unable to wear a face covering in accordance with the policy should contact the C19 Coordinator in Human Resources (HR) at [email protected]. HR will provide guidance regarding the process for submitting an exception request, and will review submissions to make a determination on a case-by-case basis. Documentation from the treating physician will be required for medical exceptions.

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It is not known if face shields provide any benefit as source control to protect others from the spray of respiratory particles. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention Opens in a new tab. does not recommend use of face shields for normal everyday activities or as a substitute for cloth face coverings. Appropriate use of masks or face coverings is critical in minimizing risks to others near you. You could spread the virus that causes COVID-19 to others even if you do not feel ill. A mask or cloth face covering is not a substitute for social distancing.

UT Dallas will provide disposable masks or cloth face coverings to all employees asked to return to work in campus facilities. Disposable masks must only be worn for one day and then must be placed in the trash. Similarly, cloth face coverings may only be worn for one day at a time and must be properly laundered before use again. Most returning employees will be issued two cloth face coverings to allow for laundering between use on alternating days.

Face coverings will be required in the following areas:

  • Hallways
  • Restrooms
  • Common spaces
  • Elevators
  • Front desks
  • Office suites (masks not required in individual offices when guests are not present)
  • Classrooms
  • Study rooms
  • Open and closed lounges
  • Outdoor spaces where social distancing is not possible

Face coverings will not be required in the following areas:

  • Personal offices (unless more than one person is present)
  • Personal suite living areas
  • Private bedrooms
  • Suite bathroom facilities
  • Parking lots if social distancing is possible

Care and use of face coverings:

  • Wash your hands immediately before and after handling your face covering.
  • Ensure your face covering fits securely over your nose, mouth and under your chin.
  • Keep the face covering over your nose and mouth at all times. (Do not put the covering around your neck or up on your forehead.)
  • Avoid touching your face covering while wearing, and don’t touch your eyes, nose or mouth when putting your face covering on or taking it off.
  • Handle your face covering only by the straps.
  • If you need to store your face covering between wearing times, store it in a paper bag or envelope. Do not place your face covering on desk/table surfaces, and do not store in clothing pockets.
  • Consult with your supervisor if use of your face covering presents safety concerns relative to conducting your job duties.

Handwashing

Wash your hands often with soap and water for at least 20 seconds, especially after you have been in a public place or after blowing your nose, coughing, sneezing or touching your face. Handwashing should be performed at least once per hour. If soap and water are not readily available, use a hand sanitizer that contains at least 60% alcohol. Cover all surfaces of your hands, and rub them together until they feel dry. Avoid touching your eyes, nose and mouth, and wash your hands after touching your face.

Hand Coverings/Glove Use

Gloves should only be worn during work tasks where use is specified by a job-specific safety plan or hazard assessment. When disposable gloves are worn by workers conducting cleaning operations, gloves must be discarded after each use to prevent cross-contamination. For the general public, the CDC recommends wearing gloves only when you are cleaning or caring for someone who is sick. Wearing gloves outside of these instances will not necessarily protect you from getting COVID-19 and may still lead to the spread of germs.

Workspace Cleaning/Disinfection

Facilities Management: Custodial teams will clean offices and workspaces once daily based on CDC guidelines for disinfection. Facilities Management will also maintain hand-sanitizer stations in high-traffic areas.

Unit Personnel: Facilities Management will provide returning units with cleaning supplies for use by unit personnel. Returning employees should wipe down commonly used surfaces before and after use with the provided cleaning supplies. This includes any shared-space location or equipment (e.g., copiers, printers, computers, audiovisual and other electrical equipment, coffee makers, desks and tables, light switches, door knobs).

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Meetings

Convening in groups increases the risk of virus transmission. Where feasible, meetings should be held in whole or part using available collaboration tools (e.g., Microsoft Teams, WebEx, conference call).

In-person meetings are limited to the restrictions of local, state and federal orders. Meetings must not exceed 50% of a room’s capacity and must allow for 6 feet of separation between participants to meet social distancing requirements. Departments should remove or rearrange chairs and tables or add other visual cues in meeting rooms to support social distancing practices between attendees. All attendees must wear masks or face coverings while sharing space in a common room.

During your time on-site, you are encouraged to communicate with your colleagues and supervisors as needed by email, instant message, telephone or other available technology rather than in person. You can also use a range of available collaboration tools (e.g., Microsoft Teams, WebEx, telephone).

Restrooms

Occupancy of restrooms should be limited based on restroom size to ensure at least 6 feet of distance between individuals. Wash your hands thoroughly afterward to reduce the potential transmission of the virus that causes COVID-19. Whenever possible, hand drying with paper towels is preferred to using air dryers. Contact Facilities Management if paper towels are not available in a restroom.

Elevators

No more than one person may ride in an elevator at a time. Returning employees should use the stairs if physically able without risk of injury or harm whenever possible. If you must use an elevator, wear a mask or face covering and, if possible, avoid touching the elevator buttons with your exposed hand/fingers. Wash your hands or use alcohol-based hand sanitizers as soon as possible upon exiting the elevator.

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Eating at Work

Before and after eating, you should wash your hands thoroughly to reduce the potential transmission of the virus.

If you are eating in your workspace (break room, office, etc.), maintain at least 6 feet of distance between you and others. Individuals should not sit facing one another. In common spaces, only remove your mask or face covering in order to eat, then put it back on. Departments should remove or rearrange chairs and tables or add visual cues in employee break rooms to support social distancing practices between employees. Wipe all surfaces, including table, refrigerator handle, coffee machine, etc., after using in common areas.

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Office/Cubicles

If you work in an open environment (i.e., open cubicles), be sure to maintain at least 6 feet of distance from co-workers. If possible, have at least one workspace separating you from another co-worker. You should wear a mask or face covering at all times while in a shared workspace/room (e.g., supply/copier room, break room, kitchen). Departments should assess open work environments and meeting rooms to institute measures to separate physically and to increase distance between employees, other co-workers, guests and visitors, such as:

  • Place visual cues such as floor decals, colored tape or signs to indicate to customers where they should stand while waiting in line;
  • Place one-way directional signage for large open workspaces with multiple throughways to increase distance between employees moving through the space;
  • Consider designating specific stairways for up or down traffic if building space allows.

If you work in an office, no more than one person may be in the same room unless the required 6 feet of distance can be consistently maintained. If more than one person is in a room, masks/face coverings must be worn at all times. A mask or face covering is not required if you are working alone in a confined office space (does not include partitioned work areas in a large open environment where employees are less than 6 feet apart).

Common Spaces

Masks/face coverings must be worn by any staff in a reception/receiving area. Masks/face coverings must be used when inside any UT Dallas facility or on campus grounds where others are present, including walking in narrow hallways, break rooms, conference rooms and other meeting locations.

Fire and Life Safety

Maintaining appropriate fire barriers and life-safety protections in buildings and workspaces is critical. Furniture or other items that are rearranged to support physical distancing cannot block or diminish paths of travel (aisles, hallways, corridors), or in any way hinder access to egress doors. Personnel and units must not prop open or inhibit the operation of doors, especially doors that are designed to be self-closing for fire-safety or security purposes.

Laboratories

The Office of Research has developed a process for researchers to request resumption of their research programs, including protocols for ensuring social distancing and appropriate protection for employees working in laboratory environments. See the Research Continuity page on the UT Dallas COVID-19 Information website for details.

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Classrooms

The Office of Academic Affairs has prepared guidance for return of faculty and students to classrooms. This guidance is posted online in the Students Guide to Classrooms.