Health, Safety & Wellbeing

There has been an outstanding effort in working together to control the spread of COVID-19 and prevent widespread community transmission. These actions need to continue in the months to come, even more so as we resume our campus activity. The guidelines in this section are designed to protect you, your friends and family, and the wider UNSW community from harm.

Keeping track of your movements


Download the CovidSafe app

The Australian Government has created the COVIDSafe mobile phone app to help find close contacts of people who have tested positive to the virus and reduce its spread. This means you’ll be contacted more quickly if you are at risk and reduces the chances of you passing the virus to others. Downloading the app is voluntary. However, we encourage all UNSW staff and students to do this to help us manage any COVID-19 outbreak on campus and keep our community safe. The COVIDSafe app is available for iPhone users to download here and Android users here.

Keep a diary

If you would prefer not to download the COVIDSafe app, keeping a daily COVID-diary is a good alternative to keep track of your movements and the people you have contact with. This will help with contact tracing if you or a member of the UNSW community becomes infected.

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 seek medical advice immediately – you can call the UNSW Health Service for advice


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.

To speak with someone about your symptoms, call your doctor or the 24-hour National Coronavirus Helpline on 1800 020 080.

Getting tested for COVID-19 

NSW Health recommends that anyone with COVID-like symptoms 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.

In the ACT if you have any Covid-like symptoms seek medical advice. You can get tested for COVID-19 if you have the following symptoms:

  • Fever of 37.5 degrees or greater (or recent history of fever such as chills or night sweats)
  • Respiratory infection (such as shortness of breath, cough, or sore throat).

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 remain at home in self-isolation while awaiting the results. 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 and support NSW Health with their contact tracing. 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.

If you or a family member are in a higher risk group, you may wish to consider alternative working arrangements. You should discuss this with your Manager or Supervisor or seek advice from the HR Business Partnering Team. Further advice is also on the HR Hub.

Physical distancing and hygiene on campus


Physical distancing on campus

Physical distancing is one of the best defences against the spread of COVID-19. NSW Health recommends that you keep 1.5 metre physical distance from others or one person per four square metres indoors. To ensure you maintain physical distance on campus you should:

  • Keep 1.5 metres 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
  • Wear a face mask if you can’t keep 1.5 metres from others

Physical distancing in your classroom, lab, study or work area

Limits on how many people can be in a classroom or study area have been set in line with Government guidelines, please follow the guidance for each area and adhere to any additional plans your manager or supervisor may put in place to manage capacity limits.

If for any reason you cannot maintain physical distance in an enclosed space, please wear an appropriate face mask.  

Safe occupancy of laboratories, workshops and clinics is covered by a separate process. A return to campus plan will be developed for each area or facility, including modified protocols and rostering where required. Please consult your Teacher or Supervisor in the first instance.

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.  Some shared facilities may remain closed for a period. Campus lounges and retailers will reopen gradually as guidelines allow.

Face Masks and Personal Protective Equipment

Face masks - NSW Health guidance

We strongly encourage all students and staff to follow the advice of NSW Health on wearing face masks to help keep each other safe.

You should wear a face mask:

  • If it is hard to maintain 1.5 metres of physical distance from others
  • On public transport
  • In supermarkets and shops
  • In places of worship
  • In indoor venues with a higher risk of transmission or where you can’t physically distance 
  • If working in cafes, restaurants pubs and clubs and other venues with a higher risk of transmission.
  • In hotspots i.e. areas of high community transmission 
  • When visiting or caring for a vulnerable person, including elderly relatives

You should also wear a mask if you:

  • Have symptoms and are in the same room as another person
  • Are in self-isolation and in the same room as another person
  • Are getting tested for COVID-19, seeking medical advice or entering a health care facility.

People in higher-risk groups are strongly encouraged to wear masks in all social circumstances.

The use of a face mask is not a substitute for staying home if you are sick or required to isolate or maintaining physical distancing and health hygiene measures. 

The latest NSW Health information on when and how to wear a mask can be found here.  NSW Health provides useful instructions on how to make an appropriate cloth mask here

Face masks on campus

The UNSW community draws people from disparate communities and a wide geography which means we need to be extra vigilant and respectful to ensure our UNSW campuses remain safe and COVID-free.

In line with NSW Health guidance, we strongly recommend that all students and staff wear a mask if physical distancing cannot be maintained for any reason, including shared spaces and student accommodation. 

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. In these situations:

  • Staff will be provided with face masks
  • Students are required to purchase their own face masks. NSW Health compliant face masks are available for purchase from various retailers on campus including the post office and pharmacy.

You will find our detailed UNSW Face Mask Guidelines on our Health and Safety website including further guidance on when a face mask is a requirement versus strongly recommended and what type of face mask should be worn in different circumstances.

We encourage you to always have a reusable cloth mask with you on campus, in addition to hand sanitiser and wipes, to use as needed. Please use bins provided to dispose of disposable face masks.

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, Events & Visitors 


Meeting in groups increases the risk of viral transmission. Where possible, continue using virtual platforms for meetings and group project work. Staff who need information on UNSW-collaborative meeting platforms should visit the IT website.

If you do need to have small meetings, observe physical distancing rules, meet in a well-ventilated area or outdoors,have hand sanitiser available and wipe down surfaces after meetings. If for any reason, you cannot maintain 1.5 metre distance from others, wear a mask.


Any event or activity on campus must comply with NSW Government guidelines or ACT Government guidelines on numbers at gatherings. You must also seek explicit permission to hold a one-off event or activity or on-going events and activities via the Safe Return to Campus Approval and Compliance process and by completing and submitting the Events and Activities Application Form.


Please limit inviting visitors onto our campuses unless it is absolutely necessary. Staff should log the  name and contact details of any visitors with their Manager if they are spending anytime in an area around other staff. If your are hosting an event or an activity with external guests/attendees, you must register them as part of your Event/Activity application

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.  We encourage you to adhere to NSW Health’s advice to wear a face mask on public transport or when using taxis, hire cars or rideshare.

UNSW Shuttle Bus

The UNSW Shuttle Bus between Kensington and Paddington campuses continues to run but is currently on a reduced schedule. Passengers are asked to respect physical distancing measures that are in place on the bus and, in line with NSW Health advice, wear a mask while on board.

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.


If you choose to drive to campus, UNSW is not currently collecting parking fees for parking within allocated spaces (this does not include pay ’n’ display or metered bays). Your vehicle must however, display a valid UNSW parking permit (including pre-paid pass) or be registered with the Parking Office at before or upon arrival to avoid a parking fine.    

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


While we are asking University staff to continue to work from home until it is time to safely return to campus, we also recognise that some staff may not feel safe at home. If for any reason you do not feel safe at home, whether because of family violence, mental health or other concerns, you should talk to your HR Business Partner to discuss an alternative work arrangement and an earlier return to campus. All discussions will be confidential.

Confidential help is available

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.

Next Page: Travel & Fieldwork Guidance

Frequently Asked Questions