Information for Students and Parents

Interim COVID-19 Masking, Social Distancing and Testing Guidelines for Employees, Students and Contractors

Apr 28, 2020, 10:25 AM by COVID-19 Communications

Face mask

Masking Requirement:

  • All UTMB employees (clinical and non-clinical), students and contractors are now required to wear a face mask while at work within all UTMB facilities.
  • Face masks must be worn continuously while in patient care areas; masks may be removed while not in public spaces.
  • In clinical buildings, institutionally provided surgical face masks will be made available at designated entry points.
  • In non-clinical areas, personal face coverings or masks can be used. Institutionally provided disposable surgical face masks will be made available by designated departmental managers. For students, disposable surgical face masks will be made available in each school’s student affair office and the Office of Student Life.
  • Personal face coverings should be laundered weekly or more often as needed; institutionally provided disposable surgical masks should be discarded daily.

Social Distancing diagram

Social Distancing:

  • All UTMB employees, students and contractors must maintain social distancing of at least 6 feet wherever possible.
  • No more than 10 persons should congregate for any face-to-face activity and social distancing should be maintained.
  • Teleconferencing is highly encouraged.

COVID-19 Testing

COVID-19 Testing:

  • To date, UTMB has tested 2,101 asymptomatic employees; of these, only 1.62% were positive for COVID-19 by molecular test. This low rate of asymptomatic infection is similar to that seen in the general population as tested by the local public health department. Therefore, UTMB will NOT require mandatory system-wide testing of COVID-19 infection among asymptomatic employees and students.
  • However, clinical, research, and educational leadership may require screening for COVID-19 in asymptomatic employees and students in high-risk areas or situations. The Department of Infection Control and Healthcare Epidemiology will provide guidance as needed.
  • Ill employees and students should not report to work or school until evaluated for COVID-19 based on their symptoms. Employee Health and Student Health will assist in coordinating COVID-19 testing.
  • All vendors involved in clinical care will be required to provide results of a COVID-19 molecular test performed within the past 7 days showing the individual was negative. No subsequent repeat COVID-19 test will be required.
  • The currently available COVID-19 antibody tests have not been validated for clinical use; however, when these become available, a program for antibody testing may be implemented.


Tim Harlin, DSc, MBA, FACHE, Executive Vice President and CEO, UTMB Health System

Charles P. Mouton, MD, MS, MBA, Executive Vice President, Provost and Dean, School of Medicine

Gulshan Sharma, MD, MPH, FCCP, Vice President, Chief Medical and Clinical Innovation Officer

Janak Patel, MD, Director of Infection Control & Healthcare Epidemiology

UTMB Schools

Student FAQs


Yes. UTMB is committed to the health and safety of our faculty, staff, students, patients, visitors and the communities we serve. As a major health care provider for a large and diverse region, UTMB must ensure adequate staffing levels to provide safe and effective care in our hospitals and clinics. To protect the health of our employees, students and patients, and consistent with guidance from the University of Texas System, UTMB has put into place restrictions, requirements and guidance regarding travel for all faculty, staff and students.

UTMB has suspended all university-sponsored travel—both international and domestic—by faculty, staff and students until further notice. Any exceptions must be approved by the Office of the President. Personal travel—both international and domestic—is strongly discouraged at this time; employees who elect to travel will have additional reporting requirements. All travelers must be cleared through Employee Health or Student Health before they can return to a UTMB campus or clinic location.

See the Travel Restrictions, Requirements and Considerations for more information.

Last modified on 3/14/2020

“Domestic travel” is long-distance, overnight travel by public conveyance (e.g., aircraft, train, bus, ships, shared rides, etc.) or by personal vehicle to locations within the United States or its possessions and territories. This excludes one’s usual commute to work or day trips to neighboring cities.

See the Travel Restrictions, Requirements and Considerations for more information.

Last modified on 3/12/2020

While UTMB cannot restrict the personal travel of its employees or students, all personal travel—whether international or domestic—is strongly discouraged until further notice. With COVID-19 now classified as a global pandemic, you should:

  • Avoid places identified as “at risk” and keep in mind that the list of at-risk areas can change quickly,
  • Be aware that the dynamic nature of the COVID-19 public health threat may require you to alter your plans mid-trip, and
  • Be prepared to self-isolate at home for 14 days upon your return, if deemed necessary by UTMB and/or your local public health authority.

See the Travel Restrictions, Requirements and Considerations for more information.

Last modified on 3/14/2020

Beginning on March 10, 2020, all UTMB faculty, staff and students MUST notify the university of any personal international or domestic travel, whether recently returned (within the last 14 days) or planned in the future. Travel must be reported via the online form at

See the Travel Restrictions, Requirements and Considerations for more information.

Last modified on 3/12/2020

All UTMB employees and students returning from any kind of travel—sponsored or personal, domestic or international—MUST contact Employee Health at (409) 747-9172 or or Student Health at (409) 747-9508 or, respectively, for telephone screening before returning to a UTMB campus or clinic location.

Employee Health staff will review messages in the evenings and on weekends to expedite responses to faculty and staff, so please contact them immediately upon your return.

If the travel was personal, you should also complete the online travel information form at

Employees and students who have traveled will not be permitted to return to a UTMB campus or clinic unless cleared to do so by Employee Health or Student Health. Please note that you may be required to self-isolate by the County’s Health Authority until cleared for return.

See the Travel Restrictions, Requirements and Considerations for more information.

Last modified on 3/12/2020

The recommended isolation period for individuals who may have had exposure to COVID-19 is currently 14 days. Employee Health and Student Health will manage the return-to-work status of all employees and students on a case-by-case basis.

See the Travel Restrictions, Requirements and Considerations for more information.

Last modified on 3/12/2020

COVID-19 General FAQs


Coronaviruses (CoV) are a large family of viruses that cause illness ranging from the common cold to more severe diseases such as Middle East Respiratory Syndrome (MERS-CoV) and Severe Acute Respiratory Syndrome (SARS-CoV). The novel coronavirus, now known as Coronavirus Disease 2019 (COVID-19) is a new strain that has not been previously identified in humans.

While COVID-19 causes only mild illness in some infected individuals, it may cause serious lower respiratory infection leading to hospitalization and even death.

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention offers this factsheet highlighting important information you should know about Coronavirus Disease 2019 (COVID-10).

Last modified on 3/16/2020

  • Stay home unless you need medical care
  • Separate yourself from other people and animals in your home
  • Call ahead before visiting a clinic
  • Wear a mask
  • Cover your coughs and sneezes
  • Clean your hands often
  • Avoid sharing personal household items
  • Clean all “high touch” surfaces every day
  • Monitor your symptoms

Last modified on 3/10/2020

  • Patients with symptoms of respiratory illness, including cough, fever or shortness of breath, should contact the UTMB Health Access Center at (800) 917-8906 to speak with our 24/7 nurse hotline.
  • The nurse hotline will advise the patient on what to do next, including the most appropriate clinic location for evaluation if needed.
  • Patients should follow provider recommendations for testing, self-isolation and management of symptoms.
  • Any patient experiencing a worsening of symptoms—particularly shortness of breath—a few days after first becoming ill should contact the Access Center IMMEDIATELY.
  • To keep our patients and employees safe, UTMB tests our patients for COVID-19 in advance of any procedure or hospital admission. 
  • You may also wish to check with your local county health officials for testing available through local government. In Galveston County, Health District testing information is online.

Please note: Our process and procedures may be updated as the COVID-19 situation develops in our region.

Last modified on 4/29/2020

This is one of the topics that remains under study; it's still not certain exactly how long the virus that causes COVID-19 survives on surfaces. According to the World Health Organization, studies suggest that coronaviruses (including preliminary information on the COVID-19 virus) may persist on surfaces for a few hours or up to several days (at one point nine days was mentioned, which the latest studies suggest may be unlikely). Survival of the virus will vary under different conditions, including type of surface, temperature, humidity and moisture, exposure to sunlight, and other factors.

If you think a surface may be infected, clean it with simple disinfectant to kill the virus and protect yourself and others. Wash your hands with soap and water or clean them with an alcohol-based hand sanitizer. Avoid touching your eyes, mouth, or nose. 

Last modified on 3/14/2020

There are no plans for UTMB to serve as a general quarantine facility in the case of an outbreak in our area. As always, we are prepared to care for patients who need hospitalization due to COVID-19 or any illness.

Last modified on 3/12/2020

  • Avoid close contact with people who are sick.
  • Avoid touching your eyes, nose, and mouth.
  • Stay home when you are sick.
  • Cover your cough or sneeze with a tissue, then throw the tissue in the trash.
  • Clean and disinfect frequently touched objects and surfaces using a regular household cleaning spray or wipe.
  • Wash your hands often with soap and water for at least 20 seconds, especially after going to the bathroom; before eating; and after blowing your nose, coughing or sneezing.

If soap and water are not readily available, use an alcohol-based hand sanitizer with at least 60% alcohol.

Always wash hands with soap and water if hands are visibly dirty.

Last modified on 3/5/2020

Reported illnesses have ranged from mild symptoms to severe illness and death for confirmed coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19) cases.

Symptoms may appear 2-14 days after exposure. Common symptoms of COVID-19 are:

  • a dry cough,
  • fever of 100.4 F or higher, and
  • shortness of breath.

Any time a member of your household has a fever (whether flu, COVID-19 or another illness), they should stay home until they’ve been fever-free for 24 hours. If at any time you have concerns about any symptoms you or your family is experiencing, call your doctor.

Last modified on 3/10/2020

COVID-19 is a new disease and we are still learning how it spreads, the severity of illness it causes and to what extent it may spread in the United States.

The virus is thought to spread mainly from person-to-person.

  • Between people who are in close contact with one another (within about 6 feet).
  • Through respiratory droplets produced when an infected person coughs or sneezes.

These droplets can land in the mouths or noses of people who are nearby or possibly be inhaled into the lungs.

Last modified on 3/5/2020

  • People are thought to be most contagious when they are most symptomatic (the sickest).
  • Some spread might be possible before people show symptoms; there have been reports of this occurring with this new coronavirus, but this is not thought to be the main way the virus spreads.

Last modified on 3/5/2020

It may be possible that a person can get COVID-19 by touching a surface or object that has the virus on it and then touching their own mouth, nose, or possibly their eyes, but this is not thought to be the main way the virus spreads.

How easily a virus spreads from person-to-person can vary. Some viruses are highly contagious (spread easily), like measles, while other viruses do not spread as easily. Another factor is whether the spread is sustained, spreading continually without stopping.

The virus that causes COVID-19 seems to be spreading easily and sustainably in the community (“community spread”) in some affected geographic areas.

Community spread means people have been infected with the virus in an area, including some who are not sure how or where they became infected.

Last modified on 3/16/2020

At this time, patients testing positive for COVID-19 who have mild symptoms, are not over age 60 and do not have an underlying medical condition are advised to isolate at home. If a patient with COVID-19 is concerned, begins to experience shortness of breath, starts feeling worse a week or so into the illness, is over age 60 or has an underlying medical condition, they are strongly encouraged to call their doctor or the UTMB Access Center at (800) 917-8906 to speak with our 24/7 nurse hotline.

Last modified on 3/16/2020

External Resources