The University of Hawaiʻi will continue to adapt its COVID-19 guidelines for the 10-campus system in the coming weeks to reflect the most up-to-date state and federal recommendations, as more people are vaccinated and reported cases decline. The UH community will be notified when significant updates are made to the UH COVID-19 guidelines and web pages. Mahalo for your patience.

Please note: the Guidelines are interim only and are subject to revision, until we can complete consultation with stakeholders. Revised July 26, 2021

Across all campuses, the university requires the following personal safety practices for all employees, students and visitors:

Not Permitted on Campus

  • If you were told to get tested as a possible contact or for symptoms, stay at home (PDF) in quarantine until you get a negative test result
  • If you are subject to government-issued or a healthcare provider’s orders to quarantine, stay at home.
  • If you have tested positive for COVID-19, stay at home (PDF) except to get medical care. Do not return to campus until you have completed 10 days of isolation and if you do not have a fever for more than 24 hours without using a fever-reducing medicine or until you have written clearance by a medical provider.
  • If you are not fully vaccinated and have been notified that you are a close contact of a suspected or confirmed COVID-19 case, the recommendation is to get tested regardless of whether you have symptoms or not, and to quarantine (i.e., stay at home). Note that testing will not shorten the required period for quarantine.
    • If you live in a residence hall, you will need to quarantine off-campus for 10 days.
    • All other students and employees should stay at home for 10 days after the date of last exposure; if exposure is continuous, stay at home for 10 days after the confirmed case is released from isolation
  • If you are fully vaccinated and have been notified that you are a close contact of a suspected or confirmed COVID-19 case, the following guidelines apply:
    • If you are asymptomatic, you do not need to quarantine, you are allowed on campus, and you must self-monitor your symptoms for 14 days
    • If you are symptomatic, stay home, contact your medical provider and follow their advice including when to return to campus. Testing may be required depending on the circumstances.
  • All students, employees, and visitors to whom this section applies must follow the reporting procedure set forth in Campus Official(s) and Communication Protocols.
  • 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 visitor who has been required to stay at home under these guidelines shall not return to campus until you have completed 10 days of isolation and if you do not have a fever for more than 24 hours without using a fever-reducing medicine or until you have written clearance by a medical provider.

Mandatory Vaccination for Students

  • The COVID-19 vaccination has been added to the health clearance requirements for students. As such, students who will be physically attending courses (vs. online), living in on-campus housing, or participating in activities (including athletic or other campus events) on any UH campus starting in the fall 2021 semester must be fully vaccinated against COVID-19.
  • Unvaccinated UH students are still welcome and may enroll in online courses. Online learners will also be able to engage with student services online and participate in student activities virtually.
  • International students who were unable to be fully vaccinated in their home countries prior to arrival will be subject to separate modified quarantine procedures until they are fully vaccinated per UH System guidelines. In general, this means they must wear a mask correctly and consistently at all times when indoors (except in private spaces), maintain 3 feet physical distance from others, and only go to and from class to their residence. Refer to the International Student office on your campus for additional details.
  • Medical and religious exemptions are available for health clearance requirements, through the current mechanisms in place for each campus.
  • People are considered fully vaccinated for COVID-19 if it has been two weeks after they have received the second dose in a two-dose series (Pfizer-BioNTech or Moderna) or two weeks after they have received a single-dose vaccine (Johnson & Johnson/Janssen). This guidance can also be applied to COVID-19 vaccines that have been authorized for emergency use listing (EUL) by the World Health Organization (e.g., AstraZeneca/Oxford, Serum Institute of India, Sinopharm, and Sinovac as of July 2, 2021).
  • For more information, please consult our COVID-19 Vaccination Requirement for Students FAQs

Hygiene and Respiratory Etiquette

  • Hands should be washed frequently with soap and water for at least 20 seconds or sanitized, especially:
    • upon arrival to campus;
    • after wiping or blowing your nose, coughing or sneezing;
    • before leaving and 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 or meals; and
    • before and after classes, work breaks and work shifts.
  • Hand sanitizer must contain at least 60% alcohol.
  • Sneeze or cough into a tissue and safely dispose of it. If no tissue is available, reduce the spread of germs by coughing or sneezing into your elbow.
  • Avoid sharing or using communal items (such as office supplies) and objects that are not easily cleaned or disinfected (such as fabric).


The guidance below presumes that some persons in the settings below are unvaccinated. As more of the campus population and larger community become vaccinated, the following guidance regarding the use of masks may change.

  • Masks shall be worn and made in accordance with the CDC guidelines and local or State laws or regulations.
  • Outdoors: Masks are not required in outdoor spaces, including lanais/patios. However, they are strongly recommended during large, crowded events where participants are in close proximity and engaging in activities where aerosolization occurs (i.e., shouting, cheering, singing, running). Refer to the current County or State guidance for other restrictions.
  • Classrooms and Labs – Students: Masks are required and 3 feet physical distancing must be maintained between students.
    • Exceptions: Masks with a clear window over the mouth are allowed if visible facial features are necessary to support learning or an activity.
  • Classrooms and Labs – Instructors:
    • Masks with a clear window over the mouth are allowed if visible facial features are necessary to support teaching, learning or an activity.
      • Exceptions if the instructor is fully vaccinated: No mask is required if the teaching podium is separated by 6 or more feet from the audience or a clear physical barrier has been previously installed. Note the barrier alone does not protect the audience or the instructor as effectively as a mask.
  • Indoor Workspaces (offices, cubicles, etc.): There are two options, depending on the configuration of your workspace:
    • If less than 6 feet physically distant from others, then masks are required.
    • If 6 feet physical distance is maintained, then no mask is required.
    • If you are in a private office (with a door) or other physical barriers are in place (e.g., plexiglass barrier), no mask is required.
    • If students and employees in labs, offices, or other settings (other than classrooms) have verification through self-disclosure of COVID-19 immunization records, or other means that all of their employees or students in that setting are fully vaccinated, then masks will not be needed in that space (consistent with CDC guidance for fully vaccinated individuals). Masks should still be utilized in common spaces.
  • Athletic Activities: Athletic activities are governed by the respective campus athletic programs and may impose different or additional requirements. Please consult with the appropriate campus program before engaging in any athletic planning or activities.
  • Indoors – Common and All Other Spaces: Masks are required other than detailed above.
  • Student Housing:
    • Masks are required in all indoor common spaces of all residential buildings, including but not limited to lobbies, hallways, elevators, lounges, eating spaces, etc.
    • Residents are not required to wear masks when in their own living space, including bedrooms, suites, or apartments. However, if residents are feeling ill, they should always wear masks.
  • 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 2 are not required to wear masks.
    • Members of the University community with a documented disability or medical condition that affects their ability to wear a mask may request accommodations or supportive measures from the university. The university will work together with the individual with the goal of creating equal access without putting the safety and welfare of other community members at risk. Those with particular needs for accommodations or supportive measures should contact the Disability Service Office, the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) Coordinator’s Office, or their departmental HR representative.
  • Because masks are critical to preventing the spread of COVID-19 per CDC guidelines, the university views non-compliance as a very serious matter and fully expects that all employees will cooperate and want to do their part to make our campuses safer. If an employee is not willing to wear a mask when required and does not have a legitimate medical reason that prevents them from wearing a mask, the employee shall be removed from campus pursuant to the disciplinary schedule and additional information on the Office of Human Resources website. If a student refuses to comply, their actions may violate the Student Conduct Code.
  • The CDC does not recommend the use of face shields for normal everyday activities in place of cloth or disposable masks, mostly because there is not enough evidence that the face shield alone prevents the spray of respiratory particles via a cough, sneeze, speaking loudly, etc. from spreading outside the face shield. For those using a face shield as an accommodation, additional measures should be in place such as increased distancing.
  • See FAQs for masks.

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


  • 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 masks and disposable masks.
  • Fully vaccinated refers to people who have been fully vaccinated for COVID-19 if it has been two weeks after they have received the second dose in a two-dose series (Pfizer-BioNTech or Moderna) or two weeks after they have received a single-dose vaccine (Johnson & Johnson/Janssen). This guidance can also be applied to COVID-19 vaccines that have been approved on the World Health Organization’s Emergency Use Listing (EUL) (e.g., the above and AstraZeneca/Oxford, Serum Institute of India, Sinopharm, Sinovac).
  • 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.
  • Verification occurs when an individual voluntarily discloses a copy of their COVID-19 immunization record, or a print out or attestation letter from their vaccine provider.
  • Close contact is considered less than 6 feet for at least 15 minutes, cumulatively, over a 24-hour period with anyone who is suspected to or has an active, diagnosed case of COVID-19. For those unvaccinated, a close contact of a COVID-19 case will be more readily assumed because indoor spacing is being reduced to 3 feet. Being a close contact means the individual will be subject to quarantine, contact tracing, and possible PCR testing.

Other Personal Protective Equipment (PPE) Requirements

  • Additional PPE requirements may apply when 3 feet of distance cannot be maintained between individuals or per research lab, clinical setting, or health professions school/program protocols.
  • Disposable gloves must be worn if an employee or student is likely to touch bodily fluids.
  • Gloves are recommended when using a disinfectant, disposing of used tissues, changing linens, or doing laundry onsite.
  • When working with medically fragile students or clients, disposable gloves may be worn when touching a student or their belongings.
  • Gloves must be changed after each physical interaction to decrease the spread of possible infection.
  • Be sure to safely dispose of or clean gloves after use and wash or sanitize your hands before and after use. Disposable gloves cannot be reused.

Practice Physical Distancing

  • Indoor meeting spaces, including classrooms and residence halls, where students, staff, and/or other individuals gather will be configured to allow a physical distance of 3 feet of separation.
  • In situations where individuals cannot maintain 3 feet of separation, (e.g., certain laboratories, learning, work, clinical spaces), additional PPE may be required depending on the situation or other requirements. Refer to the section on Modified Layouts.

Consider Getting a Flu Shot When It Is Available

Getting an influenza vaccine will not protect against COVID-19 but may help reduce your chances of becoming infected with influenza “flu”, which has similar symptoms to COVID-19.

Last modified: July 26, 2021