UH Hilo COVID-19 Guidelines

II. Personal Safety Practices

These guidelines are interim only and are subject to revision, until we can complete consultation with the unions.

Update 9/9/2022

University of Hawaiʻi at Hilo requires the following personal safety practices for all employees, students and invited visitors.

In this page:

A. Not Permitted on Campus

  • If you have tested positive for COVID-19 or have symptoms, stay at home except to get medical care. Do not return to campus until you have been cleared to return by the UH Hilo COVID Coordinator.
  • If you are subject to government-issued or a healthcare provider’s orders to quarantine, stay at home.
  • If you are sick at all, stay at home, even if you only have mild symptoms of illness that could be COVID-19, which include the following:
  • Fever (100.4 F or greater) or chills
  • Cough
  • Shortness of breath or difficulty breathing
  • Fatigue
  • Muscle or body aches
  • Headache
  • New loss of taste or smell
  • Sore throat
  • Congestion or runny nose
  • Nausea or vomiting
  • Diarrhea
  • The CDC encourages people to get vaccinated and stay up to date with vaccinations. People are considered "up to date" if a person has received all recommended COVID-19 vaccines, including any booster dose(s) when eligible. "Fully vaccinated" means a person has received their primary series of COVID-19 vaccines. See updated CDC Guidance on staying up to date with your vaccines

Effective August 12, 2022, the University has adopted the following policies in line with the CDC and DOH:

If you are COVID-19 positive or sick with COVID-19 symptoms pending test results:

  • Isolate for at least five (5) days and until until you are fever free for 24 hours without the use of fever-reducing medication and your symptoms are improving.
  • After the isolation period has ended, you may return to campus and must wear a well-fitting mask around others, in all settings, for an additional 5 days; do not go to places where you cannot wear a mask, such as restaurants and some gyms; avoid travel and being around people who are at high risk.
  • If you were severely ill with COVID-19, you should isolate for at least 10 days and consult your healthcare provider before ending isolation.

If you are exposed to COVID-19:

Day 0 is the day of your last exposure to someone with COVID-19. Day 1 is the first full day after your last exposure.

  • You must: (1) wear a high-quality mask and monitor for symptoms for 10 days following the last close contact with the positive individual, and (2) get tested 5 days following the last close contact with the positive individual.
  • You should wear a high-quality mask whenever you are around others in your home or indoors in public
  • Do not go to places where you are unable to wear a mask, such as gyms and restaurants.
  • You should refrain from being in travel or public transportation settings.
  • Take extra precautions around people who are more likely to get very sick from COVID-19.
  • If you develop COVID-19 symptoms, isolate immediately, get tested, and stay home until you know the result.

While on Quarantine or Isolation Do Not Travel Take precautions until Day 10. If you must travel during days 6-10 of protocols, take precautions.

"Exposed" follows the definition of "close contact" which is someone who was less than 6 feet away from an infected person (laboratory-confirmed or a clinical diagnosis) for a cumulative total of 15 minutes or more over a 24-hour period. For example, three individual 5-minute exposures for a total of 15 minutes.

  • All students, employees and invited visitors to whom this section applies must follow the reporting procedure set forth in Campus Official(s) and Communication Protocols (Section III.A).
  • If you are an employee required to stay at home under these guidelines, contact your supervisor or departmental HR representative regarding available leave.
  • Any student, employee or invited visitor who has been required to stay at home under these guidelines shall not return to campus until cleared to return by the UH Hilo COVID Coordinator.

B. Hygiene and Respiratory Etiquette

  • Wash your hands frequently with soap and water for at least 20 seconds, especially:
    • after wiping or blowing your nose, coughing or sneezing;
    • after returning from a public place or shared common area/space (e.g., classroom, conference room, break room or lunch room);
    • after touching trash or objects frequently used by others (such as handrails, door handles, and elevator buttons);
    • after using the toilet;
    • before, during, and after preparing food; and
    • before and after work breaks and work shifts.
  • Use hand sanitizer containing at least 60% alcohol if soap and water are not available.
  • Do not touch your face with your hands.
  • Cough or sneeze into your elbow or a disposable tissue or cloth.
  • Avoid sharing or using communal items (such as office supplies) and objects that are not easily cleaned or disinfected (such as fabric).

C. Masks

Effective 9/17/22, masking requirements will be lifted. Please respect the choices of every individual to wear a face mask and please abide by signs that may be posted outside individual offices requesting that masks be worn for the protection of others. We have many in our community at higher risk due to personal health and underlying conditions, and we want to keep them safe and feeling secure on our campuses. In addition, masking is still strongly encouraged in crowded indoor spaces.

Masking continues to be required in classrooms, shared laboratory spaces and tightly confined educational spaces, such as advising offices, and in campus venues when the number of attendees is close to maximum capacity or if it is anticipated that high numbers of higher-risk persons will be attending.

Instructors or presenters may remove their masks while teaching, provided that they maintain 6 feet distance from others.

KN95, KF94 or N95 masks are not required but encouraged where possible. Gaiters are not acceptable masks.

All masks should be well-fitted, which means the mask:

  • Has a nose wire to crimp down on top of the nose
  • Has at least 2 or more layers of washable fabric (for cloth masks)
  • Covers both the nose and mouth entirely
  • Fits snugly against the sides of your face without gaps


  • Cloth mask includes manufactured or homemade masks that tightly cover the nose and mouth with multiple layers of tightly woven, breathable fabric, a nose wire, blocks light when held up to a bright light source and does not have an exhalation valve (raised plastic cylinder meant for easy exhalation). Cloth masks should be made from washable materials and should be laundered regularly. In support of sustainability efforts, the University encourages the use of reusable masks.
  • Disposable masks include non-surgical, surgical or dust masks that cover the nose and mouth, are made from multiple layers of non-woven material, and have a nose wire. Disposable masks do not include masks with exhalation valves (raised plastic cylinders meant for easy exhalation).
  • Mask refers to cloth mask and disposable masks. Gaiters are not acceptable masks.
  • Mask that meet a Standard (N95, N99 or N100 masks) are respiratory protection devices are designed and tested to ensure they perform at a consistent level to prevent the spread of COVID-19 and other infectious agents (like tuberculosis). These are tight-fitting and filter at least 95%, 99% and 99.97%, respectively, of particles and droplets. Use of these masks should be reserved for healthcare and emergency responders and those who have been required to do so as part of a specific job task, such as research with SARS CoV-2. OSHA standards require medical clearance, fit-testing, and training at least annually when these masks are required.


Masking is still encouraged indoors when around people during crowded events, especially for those who are not vaccinated or who are immunocompromised. If there are signs requiring masks posted outside a space or office, honor those signs.

Instructors or presenters may remove their masks while teaching, provided that they maintain 6 feet distance from others.


Masks is optional for outdoors and outdoor events; however, they may be required for certain large, crowded events where participants are in close proximity to each other.

Note: County and State guidelines providing further restriction take precedence over UH Hilo Interim Guidelines.

The university recognizes that there are certain instances where wearing a mask may not be feasible or, if you have a medical condition or disability, where wearing a mask poses a health or safety risk. Reasonable accommodations will be made in those instances. Children under the age of five (5) are not required to wear masks.

Note: Masks or respirators with exhalation valves should be avoided as they do not protect others from expelled respiratory droplets and aerosols.


Residents of UH Hilo University Housing and Residence Life may be required to wear masks in common spaces where physical distancing is difficul to maintain due to the number of persons in the space. Face masks are highly recommended in indoor and outdoor areas in the residence communities.

D. Practice Physical Distancing

Physical distancing and maintaining space between individuals is not required at this time; however, continues to be a tool to avoid exposure to the virus. Indoor and outdoor spaces (classrooms, advising spaces, special venues) may adjust distancing in consultation with their respective Deans, Directors, and Vice Chancellors as well as the Vice Chancellor for Administrative Affairs, consistent with these guidelines.

E. Avoid All Non-Essential Travel

  • Consult local and national travel advisories for any travel restrictions.
  • As travel restrictions are subject to change at any moment, be prepared for unanticipated quarantine requirements, which may prevent you from returning to campus.
  • Employees shall additionally consult the university’s Travel FAQ.

F. Stay Up-To-Date with COVID-19 Vaccinations and Boosters

COVID-19 vaccines reduce the risk of people spreading the virus that causes COVID-19. COVID-19 vaccines are effective at keeping you from getting COVID-19, especially severe illness and death. COVID-19 vaccines reduce the risk of people spreading the virus that causes COVID-19.

Up-To-Date COVID-19 vaccination is strongly recommended.

G. Get a Flu Shot

Getting a flu shot will not protect against COVID-19, but may help reduce your chances of catching the flu or another influenza-like illness which may be mistaken for COVID-19 and/or hinder a diagnosis.

→ Continue to III. Institutional Safety Practices—Reporting, Monitoring, Screening For, and Managing Cases of COVID-19