Guidelines for building access

On this page:

Background and context

On March 26, the Safety Office issued initial closure guidance after most campus buildings were locked down. We closed the remaining academic buildings to employees and students on Friday, April 17. These actions were in response to public health directives on social distancing and strict definitions of essential work.

Police Services are monitoring the campus and are approved to issue provincial notices to people who are not following physical distancing rules. These notices can mean fines of up to $1,000.

Practical impact of the campus lockdown

Employees are required to work from home unless they are performing essential functions on campus as part of our commitment to ensure protocols safeguarding against COVID-19 transmission.

This means that unless you are an essential worker, you are not permitted to be on campus.

For example, going to offices to collect plants or personal belongings is not considered an essential service.

Access to buildings – guiding principles

Most campus buildings are now locked. Only employees who are performing critical functions or who require access to their workspace for necessary work items may obtain permission to access a building.

Employees who are performing critical functions and require access to their workspace must receive approval from their department head and ensure the necessary key/fob access is available. Having a key/fob issued in the past does not mean that you are permitted to access your building or office.

Researchers who have submitted requests for continuation of on-campus laboratory activities, and who are awaiting response on those requests, will receive information on the outcome of the evaluation of their requests. Building access, as required, for those approved to continue on-campus laboratory activities, will then be arranged promptly.

Guidance for deans and department heads

Deans and department heads are responsible for assessing and approving all requests for access to buildings from their direct reports and members of their department.

Deans and department heads should consider the following general guidelines when responding to individual temporary requests for access:

  • You can allow short, temporary access for items or supplies that employees require and could not otherwise work from home without.
  • These visits should be coordinated so that multiple employees are not entering the same workplace at the same time.
  • Approvals for requests to enter offices to complete work that can be done remotely should not be granted.
  • Approvals for requests to enter offices to water plants or pick up non-emergency supplies and personal items should not be granted.
  • Employees who are accessing buildings will need to abide by public health guidelines for physical distancing and hand hygiene (see preventative measures below).
  • If approved, inform Safety office via and contact UW Police to arrange for access to the building if needed..

Deans and department heads will need to follow these guidelines for ongoing essential worker requests and regular visits to buildings or laboratories:

  • Deans and department heads will be required to inform the Safety Office, via of employees who are required to access campus.
  • Any requests for laboratory access requires the approval of the Department Head, Faculty Dean, and Office of Research.
  • If your unit or department has employees that are physically present on campus on a regular basis, please also contact Plant Operations so that services and maintenance schedules can be adjusted. In your email please include the following information:
    • Subject: [DEPT NAME] – campus presence
    • Date - Week of [April 20-24, 2020]
    • Department Name
    • Number of employees present
    • Building name
    • Room numbers
  • Plant Operations will need to know the employees’ location of work and all other areas that they have accessed, so prompt cleaning can be scheduled.

Custodial services

Custodial services will not be maintained in unoccupied buildings once each area has been thoroughly cleaned. Only areas with approved active research or essential services will continue to receive cleaning service.

Likewise, waste removal will be reduced, and will be removed only from public areas. There will be no waste removal from private offices, lounges or kitchens. Employees are asked to place waste in containers in public areas.

Heating and ventilation

All buildings will continue to receive ventilation suitable for approved research and general human occupancy. However, the heating temperatures have been reduced.

When leaving the building, please turn off lights behind you and close blinds. Do your part in reducing energy consumption.

A summary of services is revised on weekly basis to reflect the needs of our campus. The current service is posted on the Plant Operations website and the Plant Operations Modified Service page.

Reporting COVID-like illness

If an employee becomes ill while working on campus, they must notify Occupational Health immediately.

Purchasing supplies for remote workers

Print + Retail Solutions is continuing to support employees on campus by offering a curated assortment of tools and items that employees might need as they work remotely.

Print + Retail Solutions’ integrated accounting infrastructure can help faculty and staff to procure items they might need to work from home using a department charge account.

Currently, W Store has printers, laptops, external drives, headsets, noise canceling headphones, cables and other similar items available and can source other technology, stationery or general merchandise products.

If your employees cannot find the product online at, send an email to and the W Store will look into it. In most cases Print + Retail Solutions can ship directly to homes if needed and can arrange a pickup or even a delivery via an appointment outside South Campus Hall.

Preventive measures for on-campus employees

Any on-campus employees must continue to:

  • perform hand hygiene frequently with an alcohol-based hand rub (if hands are not visibly dirty) or with soap and water (if hands are dirty);
  • avoid touching your eyes, nose and mouth;
  • practice respiratory hygiene by coughing or sneezing into a bent elbow or tissue and then immediately disposing of the tissue; and,
  • maintain a social distance (minimum of 2 m or 6 feet) from other individuals.