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Reopening Northeastern

Workplace Safety Protocols


Office life may look different now, but Northeastern is resilient and adaptable. Northeastern’s office facilities allow faculty and staff to perform their duties in close proximity to the communities that they serve. As we identify which elements benefit most from occurring on campus, we can create environments that support the work of faculty and staff as they work individually and collaboratively in a safe manner.

The following mandatory onsite workplace safety protocols must be followed by all Northeastern faculty and staff in all university offices, labs and other campus facilities.

icon of a face mask

Face Masks

Face masks or cloth face coverings must be worn at all times inside campus buildings and in outdoor spaces on campus.

A face covering is not a substitute for healthy distancing. It not only protects you, but shows consideration for others, as you may be able to spread COVID-19 even if you do not feel sick. Cloth face coverings should only be worn for one day before being laundered and used again.

Please see the relevant policy.


Mandatory for all members of the Northeastern community.


Whether home-made or commercially manufactured, cloth masks help contain the wearer’s respiratory emissions. They should only be worn for one day, and then properly laundered before reuse.


Commercially manufactured disposable masks are designed to contain the wearer’s respiratory emissions and should be thrown out after single use.

Generally reserved for healthcare workers and workspaces with task-specific hazards.

Medical-grade surgical

These FDA-approved medical-grade surgical mask protects users from larger splashes of liquid and contain the wearer’s respiratory emissions.

N-95 respirator

Protect against airborne particles and aerosols and contain the wearer’s respiratory emissions.


Icon of people at a distance

Healthy Distancing

Keeping at least six feet of space between you and others is the best way to avoid being exposed to COVID-19 and to decrease the risk of infecting others. At all times, reduced density protocols require that the maximum capacity of a space be no more than 25 percent of the space’s regular capacity.

To help maintain healthy distancing in workspaces, managers will assess work environments. Please be mindful and compliant with the added measures in place, such as:

  1. Visual cues and signage
  2. One-way directional signage for large open work spaces with multiple throughways
  3. Limiting access to, and use of, common spaces

Please see the relevant policy.

Hand washing icon


You should wash your hands frequently and for at least 20 seconds after being in a public place, blowing your nose, coughing or sneezing. If handwashing is not possible, use a hand sanitizer that contains at least 60 percent alcohol. Avoid touching your eyes, nose, and mouth, and wash your hands after touching your face.

People with empty desks between them.

Office Work Areas

Faculty and staff should wear a face covering at all times while in a shared work space or meeting room. Seating should be arranged in open office configurations or cubicle arrangements to accommodate a physical distance of six feet between coworkers.

The following behavioral and space considerations should be observed when in this space type:

  1. One-way Circulation: Provide one-way circulation routes when available to limit exposure. Post circulation signs to indicate route.
  2. Stagger Workforce: Develop a plan for staggered schedules in order to ensure 6’ healthy distancing.
  3. Redistribute Furniture: Rearrange or redistribute furniture to ensure 6’ healthy distancing.
  4. Barriers & Shields: Install plexiglass dividers at reception desks, and between close-proximity workstations where 6’ distancing cannot be maintained.
  5. Follow Posted Signs: Install wall and floor signage to encourage healthy distancing.
  6. Sanitize Surfaces: Wipe down your workstation (desk, mouse, keyboard, etc) at the beginning and end of every day.
  7. Provide Healthy Distancing: Whenever possible, sit further away from colleagues to ensure 6’ healthy distancing.
Meeting with a virtual attendee


Refrain from gathering in groups, maintain healthy distancing, and hold meetings in open air, well-ventilated spaces wherever possible. Meetings should also make use of the full range of available communications tools—including Microsoft Teams, Zoom, Canvas and conference calls—to diminish gathering in groups and mitigate the risk of the virus’ transmission.

 The following behavioral and space considerations should be observed when in this spacetype:

  1. Limit Room Capacity: Provide fewer seats, or mark/block off extra seats, to ensure 6’ healthy distancing.
  2. Sanitize AV Equipment: Limit contact with AV equipment and controls, and disinfect before and after use.
  3. Remove Shared Supplies: Remove whiteboard markers and erasers, and instead distribute to individuals as needed.
  4. Reallocate Space: Consider repurposing conference rooms as overflow work or lunch space.
  5. Leave a Buffer: End meetings 5-10 minutes early to allow for a staggered transition between meetings.
  6. Go Virtual: Encourage video/web conferencing to hold remote meetings (both on and off campus) when possible, and only hold in-person meetings when essential.
A break room microwave

Break Rooms and Social Spaces

Avoid social gathering in break rooms and social spaces and wipe all appliances (coffee machine, refrigerator, microwave, water dispenser) and surfaces after individual use.

  1. Keep to the Right: When entering buildings and circulating through corridors and stairs, keep to the right, unless one-way circulation is noted.
  2. Redistribute Furniture: Furniture has been rearranged throughout the space to ensure 6’ healthy distancing can be met.
  3. One-way Circulation: One-way circulation routes have been noted where applicable.
  4. Follow Posted Signs: The signs will appear around campus.
Hand sanitizer icon


Facilities will disinfect offices and workstations, conference and break rooms, doorknobs, common areas and restrooms on a frequent, recurring basis—as well as on-demand as needed. Disinfection will be in addition to regular nightly cleanings. Facilities will also maintain hand sanitizer stations at major building entrances, offices and lab suites, and other high-traffic areas. Each individual should personally wipe off surfaces after touching them, particularly if they may be touched by others.

Stairwell icon


No more than one or two persons may enter an elevator at a time (please adhere to signage near each elevator). Please use the stairs whenever possible. If using the elevator, wear your mask and avoid touching elevator buttons with your fingers. If using the stairs, avoid touching the handrails, if possible. Wash your hands or use hand sanitizer upon departing the elevator or stairwell. In stairwells, please make room for others to the extent it is possible to maintain social distancing.


  1. Keep to the Right: When entering buildings and circulating through corridors and stairs, keep to the right, unless one-way circulation is noted.
  2. One-way Circulation: One-way circulation routes have been noted where applicable.
  3. Limit Elevator Capacity: Allow only one person per elevator at a time, unless otherwise indicated.
  4. Wait Respectfully: Allow those using the elevator and water fountains enough space to maintain 6’ healthy distancing. Follow posted signage indicating where to wait.
  5. Follow Posted Signs: They will appear around campus.
Restroom icon


Use of restrooms should be limited to support six feet of healthy distancing between individuals. Wash your hands thoroughly after use to reduce the potential for transmission of the virus.


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