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Place based protocols for returning to campus

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Guidance for Specific Campus Scenarios

Working in Office Environments

If you work in an open environment, be sure to maintain at least 6 feet of distance from any others. Consider staggering chairs or desks to achieve 6 feet of distance. You should wear a face mask/covering at all times while in a shared workspace/room. You should use your own computer, phone, headset and equipment, and not use colleagues’ equipment.

Departments should assess open work environments and meeting rooms to institute measures to physically separate and increase distance between employees and other co-workers such as:

  • Place visual cues such as floor decals, colored tape or signs to indicate where people should stand while waiting
  • Place one-way directional signage for large open workspaces with multiple through-ways to increase distance between employees moving through the space
  • Shared resources (e.g., community pen holders and pens, magazines in main office areas, etc.) should be removed.

If you work in a personal office, no more than one person should be in the office unless the required 6 feet of distance can be consistently maintained. If more than one person is in a room, face masks/coverings should be worn at all times.

Face masks/coverings must be worn by every person in a reception/receiving area. Face masks/coverings must be worn at all times on campus in public settings (e.g., common workspaces, public spaces, hallways, stairwells, elevators, meeting rooms, classrooms, break-rooms, campus outdoor spaces, in restrooms, etc.).

Using Restrooms

Restrooms usage should ensure physical distancing is achieved. This may require the use of signage to indicate when a restroom is occupied.

Using Elevators

Elevator usage should ensure physical distancing is achieved. Using stairs whenever possible will assist vertical circulation given that elevator capacities may be challenged. If you are using the elevator, wear your face mask/covering and wash your hands or use hand sanitizer with 60% alcohol upon departing the elevator. Custodial crews will be wiping down elevator buttons more frequently during the day.


Convening in groups carries a high risk of viral transmission. Gathering sizes are governed by university restrictions determined at each phase. Where feasible, meetings should be held in whole or in part using online collaboration tools (e.g., Zoom). When allowed, in-person meetings are limited to the restrictions of gathering sizes, assuming individuals can still maintain 6 feet of separation for physical distancing requirements. Departments should remove or rearrange chairs and tables (e.g., consider staggering seats) or add visual cue marks in meeting rooms to support physical distancing practices between attendees. During your time on-site, you are encouraged to communicate with your colleagues and supervisors as needed by email, Skype messenger, telephone or other technology. You can also use a range of available collaboration tools (e.g., Zoom).


Gatherings are not allowed at this time. Changes to gathering size restrictions will be communicated as we ramp up.


If obtaining food from dining sites on campus, you should wear your face mask/covering when picking up food. If you are eating in your work environment (break room, office, etc.), maintain 6 feet of distance between yourself and others. Individuals should not sit facing one another. Eating alone is encouraged. Observe occupancy limits and avoid crowding of break rooms. Remote your face mask/covering only in order to eat, then put it back on. Wipe down the table and chair you used once you are done. Common break room food and beverage items should not be used (e.g., shared coffee pots, shared water pitchers, etc.). Reusable kitchenware (e.g., forks, plates) should not be used and should be replaced with disposable options.

Public Transportation

If you must take public transportation, wear a face mask/covering before entering the bus or train and avoid touching surfaces with your hands. Upon disembarking, wash your hands or use hand sanitizer with 60% alcohol as soon as possible and before removing your face mask/covering.


Faculty, staff, post-docs and students with parking permits should park in their designated zones. If a campus parking permit is needed, please contact Parking Services.

Building Cleaning and Disinfection Protocols

Enhanced cleaning protocols are in place on campus for high-risk/high-touch areas (e.g., door handles, light switches, handrails, interior doors, door push plates, common spaces, flat surfaces such as tables, elevator buttons). Increased cleaning will be performed in restrooms in common areas. Hand sanitizer dispensers will be placed at entrance and exit points for buildings on campus, as well as near elevators. Doors will be automated, where possible.

If an individual in a building tests positive for COVID-19, the entire building might not be shut down. Whenever possible, the immediate space(s) occupied by the positive person will be deep-cleaned based on CDC protocols and will be re-opened once sanitized.

On-Campus Research Activities

Additional criteria for individuals working in on-campus research environments can be found at the Research at Vanderbilt website.

Outdoor Campus Spaces

Sidewalks, Campus Pathways and Near-Building Outdoor Amenities

As mentioned in the Health and Safety Guidance section, maintaining space between you and others is a best practice and is required on the Vanderbilt University campus to avoid exposure to the COVID-19 virus and to slow its spread. Since people can spread the virus before they know they are sick, it is important to stay away from others whenever possible, even if you have no symptoms. Physical distancing is especially important for people who are at higher risk. Everyone on campus should follow these physical distancing practices:

  • Stay at least 6 feet (about 2 arms’ length) away from other people.
  • Do not gather in groups.
  • Stay out of crowded places and avoid gathering.

In the interest of creating a culture where health and safety are promoted and realized, face masks/coverings must be worn by all individuals on campus in public settings (e.g., common workspaces, hallways, stairwells, elevators, meeting rooms, classrooms, break-rooms, campus outdoor spaces, in restrooms, etc.). Appropriate use of face masks/coverings is important in minimizing risk to the wearer and those around them. A face mask/covering is not a substitute for physical distancing.

Additional criteria are being developed for outdoor spaces and will be updated in the near future. Be mindful to follow the directional signage and be prepared to change your daily routine to adhere to the new circulation patterns.

Entry/Exit Control

Entry to buildings will be regulated and monitored. Where applicable, your Vanderbilt card/badge is required for entry to all buildings, and you may not hold or prop open exterior doors for any other person. After entering a building, sanitize your hands at the nearest sanitizer station and follow signage and all physical distancing guidelines outlined herein.

The university will identify suitable building access points. Where appropriate, departments and building coordinators should attempt to coordinate arrival and departure times of faculty, staff, post-docs and students to reduce congestion during typical “rush hours” of a day’s schedule. For example, staff arrival and departures should be scheduled in 15-minute increments to reduce personal interactions at building access points, hallways, stairs/elevators, etc. Staggered schedules should be considered for lunch and break times.

Once you have been authorized to return to campus, you should arrive and depart campus through the designated building access points. Staff should also report at the designated time, where applicable, to limit the number of people entering and exiting buildings at any one time.

Building entrance and exit points are being mapped for every building on campus, including ADA accessible circulation. Buildings will include signage and visual markers, including directional signage signifying flow, physical distancing signage showing where people should stand (in certain buildings), and informational signage regarding protocols in the Return to Campus Plan. Be mindful of following the directional signage and be prepared to change your daily routine to adhere to the new circulation patterns. As building maps are finalized, they will be added to the list below. Buildings in which signage and visual markers have been installed will also be noted in the list below with this symbol .

Please contact your building manager or facility officer with any questions or feedback on these plans.

1025 16th Ave S (ISIS Labs)
1202 18th Ave S
17th Ave MUMS Lab
Biomolecular NMR
Central & Divinity Libraries
Drug Discovery - Cool Springs
E. Bronson Ingram 1st Fl Dining
Engineering Science Building (ESB)
Eskind Medical Library
Featheringill-Jacobs Hall
Hobbs HDL
Jesup Psychology
Keck FEL
LASIR at MetroCenter
Law Cafe - Dining
MRB III and Learned Lab
Olin Hall
One Magnolia Circle
Payne Hall
Peabody Administration
Sony BMG
Stevenson Center Complex
Wilson Hall
Wyatt Center

Campus Operations Details

COVID Ambassadors

COVID Ambassadors will include individuals familiar with university protocols who will be visibly available to provide assistance, answer questions, etc. in designated spaces. Ambassadors may be individuals posted in specific buildings or outdoor locations who are familiar with protocols, or be centrally provided staff members (e.g. Community Service Officers). Individuals identified as COVID Ambassadors will be notified of their responsibilities and trained as appropriate.

Dining Facilities

All patrons visiting dining operations and picking up food will be required to wear a face mask/covering. While standing in line, you should stand on decals on the floor that signify 6 feet of distance from the person in front and behind. Hands must be washed or sanitized prior to picking up food items in dining operations. You should touch only items you will be picking up and taking with you. Payment will be made using contactless devices. Once payment is tendered, follow the directional signage in the operation so that paths do not cross and a distance of 6 feet from others is maintained at all times. Seating will be limited, if offered at all, in dining locations to ensure physical distancing both at the table and while moving in the location.

Markets/Pub/Local Java/Grins/Suzie’s will be mobile-order and pick-up only. Please utilize the GET app to order your food ahead of time, make payment and schedule pick-up in the location. Follow directional and physical distancing signage during pick-up to ensure paths do not cross and physical distancing is always maintained.

Post Office Station B

All patrons visiting Station B to collect or send package(s)/mail will be required to wear a face mask/covering. The entrance to the operation is through the Rand door, while exit will be accommodated via the fire lane side facing Bishop Joseph Johnson Black Cultural Center. While standing in line, stand on decals signifying 6 feet of distance from the person in front and behind.


All patrons visiting the Barnes & Noble at Vanderbilt bookstore located at 2525 West End Avenue are required to wear a face mask/covering. Follow directional signage and stand on decals signifying 6 feet of distance from the person in front and behind while in line.

Additional Buildings

Additional criteria are being developed for other buildings on campus and will be updated in the near future.

Visitors to Campus

Visitors and guests are not allowed in campus buildings during this time.  Invited guests (e.g., contractors) are allowed only with explicit permission and are expected to abide by all campuswide and building-specific protocols.