Health & Safety Protocols

Towson University is engaged in an extensive planning effort aimed at a safe and healthy return to campus in preparation for resuming on-campus study, work, research and activities with the safety and health of our community at the forefront in light of the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic.

The following information offers guidance on health and safety protocols and changes in effect across our campus in response to the COVID-19 pandemic. This information applies to all members of the TU community—faculty, staff and students, as well as contractors, vendors, visitors and guests—while on campus or in TU facilities.

This guidance and these protocols are based on detailed recommendations and analysis from the Return to TU Task Force Workgroups. The information will be updated and redistributed to the TU community as we are able to increase the density and level of activity on campus as CDC and Maryland health guidelines change.  

Guiding Principles

  • A commitment to the health and safety of our community is paramount.
  • A commitment to excellence and shared governance
  • A commitment to student success
  • A commitment to inclusion and equity
  • A commitment to fiscal responsibility 

Maintaining Our Inclusive Community

Towson University remains committed to an educational, working and living environment that is free of all forms of discrimination, harassment and sexual misconduct. As we continue to navigate life during a global pandemic, TU seeks to foster mutual respect, support and inclusion. Every person’s care, compassion and empathy for each other makes a positive difference. 

General Expectations and Guidelines

All TU community members are expected to fully comply with the policies, protocols and guidelines outlined in the Health and Safety Protocols. Non-compliance with COVID-19 campus health and safety guidelines could result in loss of access to TU facilities and/or loss of access to the TU campus as well as corrective and/or disciplinary action.

Physical Return to Campus or TU Facility

Teleworking and remote learning formats will remain an important option as TU increases the number of employees and students that can return to campus, though at a lower density. Physical distancing and masking/face covering is required. TU is committed to a lower density workplace and telework. Employees (faculty, staff and student workers) authorized to return to campus are identified by the Provost or Divisional Vice Presidents. The Provost and Divisional Vice Presidents will provide a list of authorized faculty and staff to the Office of Human Resources and the Office of Technology Services implementation team for inclusion in the symptom screening tool.

Once the employee receives notification from their supervisor or manager that they are authorized to return to campus, the employee will receive a daily email directing them to complete the symptom screening process before returning to campus each scheduled work day.

Symptom Monitoring Requirement

TU has developed a symptom screening tool called QuickScan that all community members authorized to physically return to campus should complete daily before coming onto campus. The tool has been developed to help confirm that our community members are currently symptom-free and have not recently been in contact with anyone who has been diagnosed with COVID-19. 

Reporting COVID-19 Symptoms

All members of the TU community—including those who are working or learning remotely—are required to report symptoms of COVID-19 or exposure to someone with a confirmed case. Learn more on the COVID-19 self-reporting site for faculty, staff and students. 

Addressing Non-Compliance with Guidelines

Failure to comply with these guidelines places our community at risk for spreading the virus which could endanger community health and result in further disruption of our educational activities. All TU community members will pledge to wear a mask or face covering, physically distance, engage in public health recommended hygiene measures and not come to campus if you are experiencing any COVID-19 symptoms or have come into contact with someone who has COVID-19. The Office of Environmental Health and Safety (EHS) has the authority to limit access or shut down facilities and activities that are noncompliant with these health and safety precautions.

Every member of our community is empowered to request compliance with guidelines set forth here and in other university communications through appropriate channels. Those who encounter non-compliance with guidelines, should notify the university through:

Repeated non-compliance with current COVID-19 workplace safety guidelines will result in suspended facility or campus access for a period of time and corrective and/or disciplinary action dependent on the severity and frequency of the infraction. Human Resources and/or Student Affairs must be consulted regarding any proposed corrective and/or disciplinary action for employees or students, respectively. 

Health and Safety Tools

TigersCare COVID-19 Nurse HelpLine

TU is offering a 24/7 TigersCare COVID-19 Nurse HelpLine to our community members (students, faculty, staff, and other university affiliates). The TigersCare Nurse HelpLine provides COVID Screening per CDC guidelines and inquiries about:

  • Symptoms, including shortness of breath, cough or fever
  • Testing questions and understanding results
  • Possible exposure and not having symptoms
  • Diagnosed or suspected symptoms of COVID-19

Written protocols are used to assist any TU community member who experiences symptoms the right level of care. The TU 24/7 TigersCare COVID-19 Nurse HelpLine phone number is 855-278-8610.


The University System of Maryland (USM) requires that all students, faculty and staff of USM universities, including Towson University, have a negative COVID-19 test prior to returning to their campus. As a USM member institution, Towson University fully supports this decision.

Sentinel Testing at TU

Following public health guidance, we have shifted from an on-demand testing model to a random sampling model of testing called sentinel testing. Sentinel testing will provide a sampling of those faculty, staff, and students who are residing, regularly working and learning on campus. Read more about COVID-19 Testing at Towson University.
Faculty, staff, and students who are required to be tested under the direction of a healthcare provider can be tested at the TU Health Center. Documentation is required at the appointment. Anyone who wants to be tested outside of the sentinel testing group can contact their healthcare provider directly or utilize one of the free testing sites now available in Baltimore County, including the Maryland State Fairgrounds. 

In December we will provide additional guidance and instructions about spring 2021 COVID testing requirements.   

Contact Tracing

TU will partner with the Baltimore County Health Department to conduct contact tracing for the campus community. Upon learning of a positive test result and/or COVID exposure Baltimore County Health Department will conduct a formal contract tracing as per their protocols. Any level of exposure will be identified and reviewed by the TU COVID-19 response team. The number of exposed individuals will be evaluated and presented to the response team. The response team will make recommendations regarding mitigation efforts. 

Individual Concerns

Underlying Health Conditions and Elevated Risk

The university is using a streamlined process to evaluate an individual’s concerns about how their personal circumstances surrounding COVID-19 may place them at greater risk. That risk may be the result of their own underlying health condition or age, or it may be due to the health condition of a family member for whom the individual provides care. Towson is accordingly taking precautions and establishing protocols to protect our entire community as we return to campus and classrooms.

Individuals age 65 years and older or individuals with certain health conditions may have a higher risk for COVID-19 infection. Those conditions include:

  • HIV
  • asthma (moderate to severe)
  • chronic lung disease
  • diabetes
  • serious heart condition
  • chronic kidney disease being treated with dialysis
  • body mass index of 30 or higher
  • immunocompromised

Faculty and staff whose job duties are not conducive to full telework may request an accommodation due to:

  • their own underlying medical conditions, or high risk for complications associated with COVID-19
  • underlying medical conditions or high risk for complications associated with COVID-19 of a family member for whom they provide care

Please use the accommodation request form to initiate a request with the Office of Human Resources. Contact Marlee Ranoull, , Leave and Compliance Specialist, 410-704-6010, with questions or to discuss your situation in greater detail.

Personal Concerns

Individuals without underlying health conditions who are also not in a designated high-risk category associated with COVID-19, and whose job duties are not conducive to full and sustained telework, should contact their immediate supervisor to discuss concerns with returning to campus.

In addition to the supervisor, faculty and staff may contact the Office of Human Resources to discuss options outlined in this guidance, at .  

Students should direct any questions to Amy Morales, , Manager of Student Case Management, at (410) 704-2055. 

If you have other such concerns not associated with a specific health risk, you should have an open dialogue with your supervisor to express why you are uncomfortable with returning to work. Your supervisor will explain department scheduling and rationale as to why you may be required to report to campus to meet operational needs.  The University is committed to exploring options to address concerns regarding the return to campus, which may include:

  • a combination of working on campus and partial telework if the job duties can be performed remotely and are sustainable in a telework environment
  • a schedule change, such as a compressed work week, staggering arrival and departure times of staff, flex time, flexible work hours, or split schedule
  • change of physical work layout
  • change to another work location.
  • temporary job reassignment (if possible).
  • any other reasonable option which may be determined to be suitable as jointly determined between the faculty/staff member and their supervisor/manager

Any/all alternative work arrangements or modifications must be reviewed and approved by the appropriate unit manager in consultation with a representative from OHR.  Review of potential modifications will include discussion of the needs of the faculty/staff member as well as the applicable job duties and business requirements of the department.

Compensation and Leave Usage

Effective August 10, 2020, Administrative Leave will no longer be granted in situations where a faculty/staff member does not report to work and telework is not available. If options to facilitate return to work are not available/viable based on a position’s duties and the needs of the department, accrued leave may be utilized as follows for pay to continue and allow for further time to address concerns:

Use of all accrued and available leave will be permitted for a period of up to 160 hours (approximately four work weeks) before an individual’s situation is reevaluated. 

During this period employees may use paid leave, to include accrued and available annual, sick, personal, holiday, and compensatory leave (if eligible), at the election of the employee.  Upon conclusion of the 160 hour period (if fully utilized), the individual’s status will be reevaluated in conjunction with the department and Office of Human Resources, as necessary.  Maximum leave usage as described here will be prorated for part time employees.

Should all accrued and available paid leave be exhausted prior to reaching 160 hours, advanced sick leave is also available for use.  Under the current interim University System of Maryland guidance issued in response to the COVID pandemic, qualifying advanced sick leave may be accessed up to the maximum allotment of 480 hours, regardless of service time.  Please note that advanced sick leave remains a debt which must be repaid to the University.

School and Childcare Closures

If you are unable to return to work on campus or telework because your child’s school or childcare provider is closed due to COVID-19, you may be eligible for Expanded Family and Medical Leave as provided by the Families First Coronavirus Response Act (FFCRA).  Please visit the FFCRA web page for more information.

If your telework status has been impacted by a school or childcare closure, please consult the TU Temporary COVID-19 Telework Policy and contact your supervisor and/or the Office of Human Resources to discuss your situation.

Mental and Emotional Wellbeing

TU recognizes that COVID-19 may cause great stress for our community, especially those with family and friends who are affected.

Health and Safety Guidance/Personal Safety Practices

Mask/Face Coverings

Face masks or face coverings must be worn by everyone (including all faculty, staff, students, postdoctoral fellows, other trainees, guests, vendors, and visitors) indoors and outdoors (when six feet of physical distancing isn’t possible), while on campus and in university buildings and in and around leased spaces. Read the TU Temporary COVID-19 Masking Protocols.

Exceptions to the requirement for universal face coverings are limited to time spent in a single-occupancy office with a closed door, while eating or drinking, or in specific situations described below in the Guidance for Use of Campus Facilities.

Face coverings are worn to protect others in the event someone is unknowingly transmitting the virus. Face coverings offer minimal protection for the wearer, and physical distancing must also be maintained even while using face coverings. Face coverings should be non-medical types in order to maintain supplies for healthcare use.

The university will provide masks for TU community members, and they may also elect to use their own masks or face coverings. Cloth face coverings must only be worn for one day at a time, and must be properly hand washed or laundered before subsequent use.

Masks or face coverings may vary (e.g., masks or neck gaiters are acceptable). At minimum, cloth face coverings should:

  • Fit snugly but comfortably against the side of the face, and be secured in place
  • May include gaiters or scarves
  • May include face shields in addition to masks/face coverings
  • Cover the nose and mouth with no openings (holes, valves or mesh) and extend to the bottom of the chin
  • Allow for breathing without restriction
  • Be able to be laundered without damage or change to shape

Use and Care of Mask or Face Coverings

When putting on a mask or face covering, people should:

  • Wash hands or use hand sanitizer prior to handling the face covering/disposable mask
  • Ensure the face-covering/disposable mask fits over the nose and under the chin
  • Situate the face-covering/disposable mask properly with nose wire snug against the nose (where applicable)
  • Tie straps behind the head and neck or loop around the ears
  • Throughout the process: Avoid touching the front of the face covering/disposable mask. Try to avoid adjusting the mask during the day and wash hands/use sanitizer after any adjustments.

When taking off a face covering/disposable mask, people should:

  • Avoid touching their eyes, nose, or mouth
  • Loop their finger into the strap and pull the strap away from the ear, or untie the straps
  • Wash hands immediately after removing

Care, storage and laundering:

  • People should keep face coverings/disposable mask stored safely when not in use.
  • Cloth face coverings may not be used more than one day at a time and must be washed after use. Cloth face coverings should be hand washed or laundered with regular soap or clothing detergent before first use and after each shift.
  • Cloth face coverings should be replaced immediately if soiled, damaged (e.g. ripped, punctured) or visibly contaminated.
  • Disposable masks must not be used for more than one day and should be placed in the trash after your shift or if they are soiled or damaged (e.g., stretched ear loops, torn or punctured material) or visibly contaminated.

Social/Physical Distancing

Keeping a six-foot space between yourself and others is one of the best tools we have to avoid being exposed to the COVID-19 virus and to slow its spread. Since people can spread the virus before they even know they are sick, it is important to physically distance from others when possible, even if they have no symptoms.

Social/physical distancing is important for everyone—and required by the university—especially to help protect people who are at higher risk of getting very sick. Everyone on campus is expected to follow social distancing practices. They should:

  • Stay at least 6 feet (about 2 arms’ length) from other people whenever possible
  • Stay out of crowded places and avoid large gatherings
  • Avoid handshakes and other contact greetings
  • Stagger breaks and meal-times during the day


Everyone should wash their hands often with soap and warm water for at least 20 seconds, especially after they have been in a public place, in contact with high touch surfaces (door knobs, handles, tables, counters, etc.) or after blowing their nose, coughing, sneezing, or touching their face. It is also suggested that everyone wash their hands as they enter and leave various on campus spaces and before eating. People should avoid touching their eyes, nose, and mouth, and wash their hands after touching their face.

If soap and water are not readily available, people can use a hand sanitizer that contains at least 60% alcohol. They should cover all surfaces of their hands and rub them together until they feel dry. Hand sanitizer is available throughout the TU campus.

Coughing/Sneezing Hygiene

Those in a private setting who do not have on a mask or cloth face covering should remember to always cover their mouth and nose with a tissue when coughing or sneezing or use the inside of your elbow. Any used tissues should be thrown in the trash immediately after use. After sneezing, individuals should immediately wash their hands with soap and water for at least 20 seconds. If soap and water are not readily available, they should clean their hands with a hand sanitizer that contains at least 60% alcohol. Employees sneezing and coughing into a cloth mask should change the mask and launder it.


According to the CDC, gloves are not necessary for general use and do not replace good hand hygiene.

If a task or on campus area DID NOT require gloves prior to the pandemic, gloves are not required now. If a task or on campus area (e.g. laboratory) required a specific type of gloves as PPE prior to the pandemic, those requirements remain in place. Washing hands often is considered the best practice for common everyday tasks.

Goggles/Face Shields

TU community members do not need to but may wear goggles or face shields as part of general activity on campus.

All Other Personal Protective Equipment (PPE)

All other types of personal protective equipment (PPE) required for a specific task or specific on campus area (e.g. laboratory) should not be altered or substituted due to the pandemic without consultation with the Office of Environmental Healthy Safety (EHS). 

Guidance for Use of Campus Facilities


Common areas, lobbies, classrooms and conference rooms will be cleaned daily by ABM based on CDC guidance. Several times daily, ABM will provide additional cleaning of high touch points and high communal use areas (stairwell and room/building door handles, elevator buttons, etc.).

Employees are expected to clean individual work areas of keyboard, desk, or surfaces with which they have made contact and wipe down personal workspaces. Before starting activity in a space, and before leaving any room in which they have been working, individuals should wipe down all areas with disinfecting wipes that are available throughout campus. This includes any shared-space location or equipment (e.g. copiers, printers, computers, A/V and other electrical equipment, coffee makers, desks and tables, conference tables, light switches, doorknobs, etc.).

People should avoid using the phones, desks, offices, or other tools and equipment of others and should clean and disinfect them before and after use.

Cleaning supplies that meet the EPA’s criteria for use against COVID-19 will be provided.


Building access is currently restricted. A TU OneCard is required for entry to all buildings, and affiliates may not hold or prop open exterior doors for any other person. Access to TU buildings and the hours of such access will be established in coordination with the health and safety to reduce congestion. Visitors, guests and pets are not permitted in buildings during this time.

Where appropriate, some doors will be designated and marked “entrance” or “exit” only. All TU community members on campus are asked to follow these directives.

Public Transportation/TU Shuttles

Everyone who takes public transportation or uses TU shuttles must wear a mask or face covering while on the bus/shuttle and avoid touching surfaces with their hands to the maximum extent possible. Upon disembarking, individuals should wash their hands or use hand sanitizer with at least 60% alcohol as soon as possible and before removing their mask.

Vehicle capacity for TU shuttles will be set to ensure appropriate distancing and in consultation with public health experts and regulatory guidance.

All TU community members working or learning on premises must maintain social distancing practices (e.g., be sure to maintain at least 6 feet distance from co-workers). Density is determined by usable floor/workspace with adequate distance or physical separation. Divisions will identify maximum occupancy for each space including breakrooms and conference rooms. Occupants must wear a mask or face covering unless in a single office with closed door or when eating in designated locations.

Safe social distancing and individual responsibility are required for shared spaces such as kitchens and break/conference rooms. Refrigerators, microwaves, coffee machines, etc. may be used, but they are an individual responsibility, and hand cleaning before and after use is required.

TU Shuttle vans are cleaned before and after each driver shift using CDC-approved cleaning products. Drivers also will clean high touch points several times per shift using Lysol® or Clorox® approved disinfectant wipes. Note: Door opening and closing is controlled by the operator in all vehicles.

Office Environments

While daily cleaning of high contact touch points will be completed by custodial staff (with additional cleaning of high touch points such as stairwell and room door handles and elevator buttons), everyone is responsible for their own work and/or learning environments including equipment that they use. Cleaning cloths/disinfecting spray will be made available.


Convening in groups increases the risk of viral transmission. Virtual meetings should be the norm at this time using the extensive range of available collaboration tools (e.g., WebEx, Zoom, telephone). In-person meetings are limited to the restrictions of local, state, and federal orders and should maintain a minimum of 6 feet of separation for social distancing requirements. Conference rooms will be configured to reinforce physical/social distancing and provide visual cues.

Departments should remove and/or rearrange chairs and tables or add visual cue marks in meeting rooms to support social distancing practices between attendees. During time on-site, affiliates are encouraged to communicate with colleagues and supervisors as needed by email, instant message, telephone or other available technology rather than face-to-face. People can also use a range of available collaboration tools (e.g. WebEx, Zoom).


Use of restrooms should be limited based on size to ensure at least 6 feet distance between individuals. Individuals should wash their hands thoroughly with warm water and soap for at least 20 seconds afterward to reduce the potential transmission of the virus. Capacity of each restroom will be clearly marked and posted with signage.


Elevator occupancy will be limited with signage indicating the number permitted at one time. We highly recommend use of stairs as much as possible. While using the elevator, masks or face coverings must be worn, and individuals should press elevator buttons with another object, knuckle, elbow, etc., if possible. Everyone should wash hands or use hand sanitizer with at least 60% alcohol upon departing the elevator. Elevators are an area designated for more frequent cleaning.


Before and after eating, everyone should wash their hands thoroughly to reduce the potential transmission of the virus. If dining on campus, individuals should wear a mask or face covering until they are ready to eat and then replace it afterward. Affiliates are encouraged to eat outside if possible, rather than in a break room or shared office, and maintain 6 feet distance between themselves and others. Individuals should not sit facing one another. They should only remove their mask or face covering in order to eat, then put it back on. Departments should remove or rearrange chairs and tables or add visual cue marks in employee break rooms to support social distancing practices between employees. Individuals should wipe all surfaces, including tables, refrigerator handles, coffee machines, etc., before and after using them in common areas.

Enhanced Cleaning Following Known or Suspected COVID-19 Exposure

In areas where a person who is positive for COVID-19 or suspected positive for COVID-19 has been, additional measures for cleaning will be implemented.

  • Where possible, spaces should be left unoccupied for a minimum of three hours for labs and 24 hours for other spaces. Increase ventilation or open windows if able to do so without reentering.
  • Cleaning protocol will be overseen by EHS, including any requests for access for cleaning earlier than the designated wait time. If earlier access is authorized, appropriate PPE is required, to include an approved N95 mask or PAPR. 

COVID-19 Research Resources

Information and resources about research are maintained by the Office of the Provost. See COVID-19 Faculty Resources and Policies.  


COVID-19 Public Health Education and Training

We all recognize that the community we are returning to is different than the one we left. TU will offer public health education and training to create more awareness, set expectations and provide pertinent and significant information to our community.