Health, Safety & Wellbeing

It is important that we continue to work together to control the spread of COVID-19 and prevent transmission within our UNSW community and beyond. The guidelines in this section are designed to protect you, your friends and family, and the wider UNSW community from harm. You should also stay abreast of any updates to rules and restrictions on the NSW Health website. 

COVID-19 vaccinations

We strongly encourage all students and staff who can get vaccinated to do so as soon as possible to  help keep you, your family and our UNSW community safe. The latest vaccination information, guidance and links to make an appointment are on the NSW Health website

Where can if find out more about the different COVID-19 vaccines available and their safety?

To help our students and staff navigate the information and advice on the COVID-19 vaccines, UNSW expert and epidemiologist Professor Mary-Louise McLaws, in conjunction with Arc, has put together some FAQs which you can find here.  

Keeping track of movements for contact tracing

Building and room access

You must check in using the Service NSW QR code wherever available, and do so every time you enter a coded room or space.  

Many buildings across campus remain in ‘secure mode’ and you will need to use your student or staff card to access the building or internal area. Swipe card records will also be used for contact tracing purposes if necessary, so please swipe wherever you go during your time on campus. 

Symptoms, testing and when to notify UNSW


Monitoring for COVID-19 symptoms

It is your responsibility to check if you have symptoms of COVID-19 before you come to campus each day. If you have any symptoms, even very mild, you MUST NOT come to campus; instead you should self-isolate at home and seek medical advice.

If you fall ill while on campus, you should:

  • Wear a face mask and leave campus
  • Avoid contact with others and limit your movements 
  • Self-isolate and do a Rapid Antigen Test or get a PCR test
  • Follow the NSW Health rules


The main symptoms to look out for are fever, cough, sore/scratchy throat, shortness of breath, runny nose, loss of smell and loss of taste.


main symptoms of COVID-19


Other symptoms include muscle pain, joint pain, diarrhoea, nausea/vomiting and loss of appetite.


Getting tested for COVID-19 

You should get tested, even if your symptoms are very mild. You can make an appointment for a COVID-19 test at the UNSW Health Service or a COVID-19 testing centre near you.

For the latest information on COVID-19 symptoms and testing visit the NSW Health website.

For the latest information on COVID-19 symptoms and testing in the ACT visit the ACT Government Health website.

COVID-19 testing is fast and free and you do not need a medicare card. If you have been tested, you must self-isolate until you receive a negative result. Even if you test negative, you must not come to campus until all your symptoms have resolved.

Notify us if you test positive for COVID-19

If you test positive for COVID-19 you must:

  • Continue to self-isolate at home. (Do not come to campus)
  • Notify us immediately by completing and submitting this form.

Notifying us will enable us to limit any contagion event on campus, support us with contact tracing and ensure you get the support you need. We will not share this information with anyone else.

What to do if you have been exposed to someone who has tested positive to COVID-19 and/or directed by health authorities to self-isolate

If you have been identified as a close contact of someone who has tested positive to COVID-19 and/or directed to self-isolate by health authorities or by the University DO NOT come to campus.

  • If you live in UNSW student accommodation you must tell your accommodation provider - they will make necessary arrangements for your self-isolation if required.
  • Other students can notify us by contacting the Nucleus: Student Hub
  • Staff should notify their Manager or Supervisor and local HR team and discuss work-from-home or leave arrangements. More information on COVID-19 leave available to staff is on the HR Hub.
  • If you are required to self-isolate you may only return to campus after 14 days self-isolation and when NSW Health confirms you can.

What to do if COVID-19 impacts your studies or work


If you are a student and your health, the need to get tested for COVID-19 or self-isolate impacts your studies and assessments you may be eligible to apply for Special Consideration. You should discuss options with your teacher or supervisor in the first instance. If you are feeling worried about your health or study you can also contact the Nucleus: Student Hub who can find you the support you need.


If you are staff and your health, the need to get tested or self-isolate impacts your work you should discuss options with your Manager or Supervisor and visit the HR Hub to see what COVID-19 leave may be available to you.

Physical distancing and hygiene on campus


Physical distancing on campus

Physical distancing is one of the best defences against the spread of COVID-19. To ensure you maintain physical distance on campus you should:

  • Keep 1.5 metres physical distance from others
  • Avoid physical greetings such as handshakes, kisses and hugs
  • Avoid gathering in groups, especially at classroom entry and exit
  • Avoid crowded spaces
  • Use tap and go instead of cash
  • Follow instructions on campus signage and do not exceed capacity limits of any rooms
  • Wear a face mask if the situation or rules require that you do.

Physical distancing in teaching spaces

Teaching spaces have been timetabled to allow 1 person per 2 square metres. You should wear a face mask in these spaces if you are required to by NSW Health, cannot maintain 1.5 metres physical distance from others or if you are instructed to do so by your teacher. 

Physical distancing in all other spaces on campus 

The main rule to remember when determining room capacity is to ensure that 1.5 metres physical distance between people can be maintained. 

Many rooms have capacity signage in place - these are a guide only and based on 1 person per 4 square metres. We ask that you apply common sense when using rooms on campus and be conscious of others who may not feel comfortable in a crowded space given the ongoing COVID-19 risk. 

You should wear a face mask if required to by NSW Health or if you cannot maintain 1.5 metres physical distance, especially indoors. 

Room capacity signage is available here for managers to print off and display. 

Hand hygiene

Wash hands with soap and water for at least 20 seconds or use hand sanitiser – especially after being in a public space or touching your face or coughing or sneezing. We strongly recommend you bring hand sanitiser with you to campus for times when you can’t access handwashing facilities.

Respiratory hygiene

Remember the health advice: use a tissue when coughing or sneezing and dispose of it immediately and then wash your hands. Or cough or sneeze into the inside of your elbow. Avoid touching your eyes, nose and mouth.

Looking after your space

If you are using a lab, library study space or your regular workspace, please use the cleaning products provided to wipe down equipment, desks and computers before and after use. This includes and communal working areas you might use and any frequently touched surfaces.

We also ask that you take personal responsibility and recommend you keep wipes and sanitiser on you for use in other areas.

Using restrooms

Please ensure you comply with physical distancing measures while using restrooms. Wash your hands using soap and water for at least 20 seconds.

Using lifts

You must ensure, as far as you reasonably can, to maintain physical distancing in lifts and lift waiting areas. We also strongly recommend you wear a mask when using lifts. Avoid touching the lift buttons with exposed fingers/hands. Wash your hands at the next available opportunity. Please give priority to people who are less mobile or with a disability and use the stairs where possible.

Using break or co-curricular areas

Physical distancing applies to kitchen, break and leisure areas. You should always practise good food safety when preparing food, especially in communal areas. Wash your hands before, during and after food preparation and between handling raw and cooked food. Wipe all surfaces with the cleaning materials provided after use, including tables, refrigerator handles, coffee machines and taps, etc.  

Face Masks and Personal Protective Equipment

Face masks 

We strongly encourage you to wear a mask at all times when indoors on campus, especially if you cannot physically distance.

You must wear a mask in any situation where a mask is mandatory under the Public Health Order. 

Students are also required to wear a mask in the classroom if asked to do so by teaching staff, such as, in situations where the 1.5 metres physical distance is difficult to maintain.

Students and staff should bring a mask to campus every day and use it if NSW Health or the situation requires it.

If you forget to bring a face mask to campus, they can be purchased from the IGA, Pharmacy or the Post Office.

Please use bins provided to dispose of disposable face masks.

Further detail on when you should wear face masks and how to make one is on the NSW Health website.

Face masks as Personal Protective Equipment (PPE)

In teaching, learning, research or operational situations where a Health and Safety Risk Assessment has determined physical distancing cannot be maintained or there is a high risk that it cannot be maintained, face masks will be required Personal Protective Equipment for students and staff.

Further information on when a face mask is a mandatory PPE requirement is on our UNSW Health and Safety website.

Other personal protective equipment (PPE)

Gloves, goggles and face shields are not required for general campus activity. Some study spaces on campus however require the use of PPE, for example a research laboratory or health-related teaching area with patient contact. Please continue to follow protocol specified for your study or work space.

Meetings, Social Gatherings, Events, Activities & Visitors 

In-person meetings 

In-person meetings should always observe the 1.5 metre physical distancing rule. You should meet in a well-ventilated area or outdoors, have hand sanitiser available and wipe down surfaces after meetings. Room capacity signage is in place in many rooms for you to use as a guide. We ask that you apply common sense when using rooms on campus and be conscious of others who may not feel comfortable in a crowded space given the ongoing COVID-19 risk. If for any reason, you cannot maintain 1.5 metre distance from others, wear a mask. You should also consider virtual meetings for any situation where physical distancing may be difficult or not possible.

Social gatherings and celebrations with food

If you are organising or attending a morning or afternoon tea, birthday cake gathering, BBQ on campus or any other gathering involving food please ensure you apply COVIDsafe principles:

  • Wash or sanitise your hands before preparing food
  • Clean surfaces before preparing food
  • Wear gloves if preparing food for others
  • Do not share utensils
  • Avoid platters, instead make single portions available or have people bring their own food
  • Have one person only, wearing gloves, responsible for any cutting/serving of shareable items
  • Avoid birthday candles that need to be blown out
  • Have hand sanitiser available for attendees
  • Do not exceed the number of people allowed at a gathering. See rules here
  • Maintain 1.5 metres from others when gathering.  

You should read the Event guidelines below to check whether your social gathering requires approval from the Safe Return team or Arc.

Events and Activities

Any event or activity on campus must comply with NSW Government guidelines or ACT Government guidelines on numbers at gatherings. 

You must also seek approval from the Safe Return to Campus Team for events and activities that involve:

  • More than 100 people. There is an exception for staff meetings with less than 200 people which run for less than 1.5 hours. 
  • More than 10 external guests or visitors.
  • School groups of any size.

Subject to updated guidance and health orders, UNSW events and activities outside of the above criteria can proceed without formal approval although COVIDsafe measures are still required to be in place. Event guidance and information on the approval process is on the HR HUB.

Student-led events, clubs or societies should continue to seek approval via Arc in the first instance.

Staff who require any further advice or guidance on events and activities outside of the above list, should contact their Local Recovery Team Lead in the first instance. 


If students, staff or visitors in your area are not captured by a QR code, swipe data or an existing visitor registration system, then Managers should establish a way of recording attendance for contact tracing purposes. For support in establishing an electronic registration process, please contact your Local Recovery Team member

Getting to and from campus safely


Public transport

Read the advice of Transport NSW or Transport Canberra on the safe use of public transport during this time. A range of useful information and tools are also available on Transport NSW’s ‘COVIDSafe Travel Choices’ website.  If you are catching public transport to and from the Kensington or Paddington campuses or using taxis, hire cars or rideshare, follow the NSW Health guidance on wearing face masks.  

The UNSW Shuttle Bus between Kensington and Paddington campuses continues to run. Passengers are asked to respect physical distancing measures that are in place on the bus and follow the NSW Health guidance on wearing face masks.  

Active transport alternatives

To help you avoid crowds on public transport and to minimise risk of exposure to COVID-19, we encourage you to consider active transport options such as walking or cycling to campus. More information on your travel options to our Kensington and Paddington campuses can be found here.


Estate Management will review parking fee arrangements for any periods where NSW Health has a stay-at-home order in place. Any temporary changes will be communicated via email. For details on usual parking arrangements visit the Estate Management website. 

Your wellbeing


We know that this has been a difficult time – not just for UNSW but for Australia and the global community. Many families will have been dealing with medical, social and financial pressures.

The Wellbeing Team at UNSW has curated a range of health and wellbeing resources to support you including links to counselling services, mental health advice, tips on staying active and more. You can access resources here.  

Additional health information related to COVID-19 is also available here and more information on mental health support and advice during COVID-19 is here.  

Student Life Hub

We want you to stay connected and keep an active student life - whether you are studying virtually this term, taking classes on campus - or a combination of both! 

UNSW Student Life Hub is a virtual drop-in centre for confidential support; virtual connections with other students; looking after your health and wellbeing and having fun, even in a time of physical distancing. Students can also visit the ‘mind hub’ on our website for further health and wellbeing information, support and resources.  

Student Advisors

If you are a student who needs help or support you should contact The Nucleus: Student HubStudent Advisors or help via our International Student Advisors


UNSW’s Employee Assistance Program (EAP) is a confidential counselling, coaching and wellbeing service free for all UNSW staff and their immediate family members. The service can help you to manage work and life experiences, and issues or concerns that have arisen from the pandemic. Our EAP service is provided by Benestar and allows you access to professional face-to-face counselling, telephone support, live chat support and a vast library of online health and wellbeing resources.

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