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 1/24/2022

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 January 3, 2022, the CDC and DOH have provided the following guidance:

If you are COVID-19 positive regardless of vaccination status:

  • Isolate for at least five (5) days and until symptoms are gone
  • Continue to wear a mask for five days after isolation (strict masking protocols)

If you are exposed to COVID-19:

  • Boosted, or fully vaccinated within the past six (6) months (or within past 2 months if J&J)

    • No need to quarantine
    • Follow strict masking protocol for ten (10) days
    • Get tested on day five (5)
  • Neither boosted or fully vaccinated

    • Quarantine for five days
    • Follow strict masking protocol for five (5) days after quarantine
    • Get tested on day five (5)

"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.

"Strict Masking Protocol" means wearing a mask anytime you are around people, whether indoors or outdoors. Eating around others is not permissible as this activity involves removing your mask

  • 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, the Human Resources office will make contact with you 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 a healthcare professional or the DOH, and must submit clearance documentation to the UH Hilo COVID Coordinator at uhhcovid@hawaii.edu.

B. Vaccination Requirement for Students

  • Students who will be physically attending courses onsite (the UH Hilo campus or off-campus properties) are required to be fully vaccinated. If students physically attending courses onsite are not fully vaccinated, they will be subject to weekly COVID testing. Students will not be permitted onsite if they fail to comply with UH Hilo weekly testing requirements.

  • On-Campus Housing: Vaccination is required for students who are living in on-campus housing

    • Students in on-campus housing who were unable to be fully vaccinated prior to check-in to dormitories will be subject to additional requirements, including:
    • Wearing masks correctly at all times, except when alone in their own dorm room;
    • Only go to and from class to their residence;
    • Subject to mandatory weekly testing.
    • Must within six weeks of check in, either achieve fully vaccinated status or attain medical or religious exemption. Failure to do so will result in removal from on-campus housing.
  • Athletics: Student Athletes must be fully vaccinated. Vaccination is required for student athletes to participate in athletic practices and competitions.

  • Other specified activities (e.g. athletic spectators, theater events, special activities). Vaccination requirement for specified activities will be communicated prior to the event. These types of activities are generally non-instructional and not a requirement for classes.
  • Students with approved medical and religious exemptions from vaccination will be required to comply with UH Hilo weekly testing requirements.

C. Vaccination Requirement for Employees

  • Employees who will be physically reporting to a University site (the UH Hilo campus or off-campus properties) are required to be fully vaccinated. Employees reporting to a University site who are not fully vaccinated will be subject to weekly COVID testing. This policy is effective from August 23, 2021 through January 2, 2022. Effective January 3, 2022, this policy will be rescinded and replaced with a Mandatory COVID-19 Vaccination policy.

D. 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).

E. Masks

Masks: Masks are still required at all times indoors on UH campuses or facilities. 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.


Masks shall be worn indoors except where an individual is working in isolation (e.g. a private office alone). Classrooms and teaching laboratories are considered public spaces and masks must be worn at all times if there is more than one person in the room.


Masks are strongly recommended in outdoor spaces, including lanai/patios; 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.

Faculty who teach in person and employees providing direct service to customers (in which physical distancing is not easy to manage, such as at a customer service window) may be provided face shields. Face Shields should only be used in combination with and not as a substitute for masks. The CDC does not recommend use of face shields for normal everyday activities in place of masks. For those using only a face shield as an accommodation, additional measures should be in place such as increased distancing.

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 are required to wear masks in common spaces of all residential buildings, including but not limited to lobbies, hallways, lounges, eating spaces, etc. Residents are not required to wear a mask when in their own living space, including bedrooms, suites, or apartments. However, if residents are feeling ill, they should wear masks at all times.

F. Practice Physical Distancing

Physical distancing and maintaining space between individuals is one of the best tools we have to avoid being exposed to the virus.

  • The following physical distancing practices shall be adhered to:
    • Classroom and Lab Spaces:
    • Minimum three (3) feet distance between individuals
    • Public Indoor Spaces:
      • Minimum three (3) feet distance between individuals
      • Specific facilities will have signage posted where minimum six (6) feet distance between individuals is required
    • Non-Public Indoor Work Spaces:
      • Minimum three (3) feet distance between individual work stations
    • Avoid gathering in groups or crowds
    • If using an elevator, masks are required and occupants must adhere to posted occupancy limits.
  • Physical distancing best practices include:
    • 6 feet of separation
    • Reduce seating density
    • Adjusting walking traffic patterns
    • Remote learning
    • Limiting large meetings and gatherings
    • Adjusting schedules and shifts

Two people, seperated by 6ft distance
Maintain 6ft physical distance.

Person wearing a mask
Observe face covering requirements posted at buildings.

Person with an elevated temperature
Stay home if you are feeling sick.

G. 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.

H. Get a COVID-19 Vaccination

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.

I. 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