Health and safety update: Working and eating in shared office spaces

As staff, faculty and students return to campus, the Vanderbilt community is stepping up to prevent COVID-19 infection. All university-employed faculty, staff and postdoctoral fellows are required to be fully vaccinated against COVID-19. The university is also following safety guidelines for workspaces issued by the American College Health Association.

Based on CDC employer and ACHA guidance, people should wear face masks if they cannot maintain physical distancing of six feet between themselves and others.

Researchers in masks in campus lab
Mechanical engineering Professor Karl Zelik works with research engineer Anna Wolfe and graduate student Emily Matijevich as they observe pandemic protocols in his lab at the Engineering Science Building.


  • If you are actively eating or drinking in your work environment or break room, try to maintain six feet of distance between yourself and others.
  • Observe occupancy limits and avoid crowded break rooms.
  • Remove your face mask/covering only to eat or drink, then put it back on. 


  • Where possible, departments should assess open work environments and meeting rooms to increase distance between co-workers.
  • When feasible, meetings should be held in whole or in part using online collaboration tools, like Zoom.
  • If meetings are held in person, maintain six feet of physical distancing. If physical distancing is not possible, then everyone in the meeting should wear a face mask or covering. 


  • Based on CDC employer guidance, individuals—regardless of vaccination status—should wear a face mask or covering when on elevators with others.

Vanderbilt’s public health command center continues to lead contact tracing and other response efforts. Changes in safety protocols can be made quickly as experts analyze new information and data.