Health & Safety

The University provided and made public the written compliance plan for the University of Denver (DU) to address the requirements set forth in the Denver Department of Public Health & Environment (DDPHE) Public Health Order for Institutes of Higher Education on October 16, 2020. The formal response can be found here, but the contents of this action plan contain the fullest response to the requirements set forth by DDPHE, many of which were in place prior to the order.

While it is not within the University’s power to prevent cases of COVID-19, DU community members can help limit the number of potential cases and help control any potential spread by supporting the University’s efforts via careful and frequent symptom monitoring, manual and digital contact tracing, mandatory pre-arrival quarantine, required periodic and exposure testing, and prevention practices and behaviors.

COVID-19 Dashboard

The need for rapid, accurate communication is crucial when it comes to protecting our community. The University publicly displays critical information on the total number of COVID-19 tests and number of positive tests. Data is presented in an epidemiologically relevant manner looking at 14 and 7 day results as well as daily information. This allows the University to compare the university campus to the City and County of Denver, State of Colorado and the US more broadly in terms of positivity, cumulative cases and incidence rate. These various measures provide information on the prevalence of the disease on campus, the rate of spread and relative level of concern. The University also provides details on the capacity of isolation and quarantine space and connected cases on our campus.  Although the state has aggregated all connected cases at higher education institutions in Colorado as a single outbreak whether or not the individuals were ever in contact (when they typically are not), at DU we continue to track connected cases where contact is established. Many of these measures factor into the thresholds for changing alert levels on campus.

In presenting this data the University balances our intention to be transparent regarding campus conditions, our principles and obligations by law to protect the privacy of those affected by a positive confirmation or those who have come into close contact with an individual who is affected. To protect privacy, DU will not release any identifying information regarding COVID-19 cases. 

Alert Levels and Triggers

As a result of increased transmission of the virus that causes COVID-19, the University has developed a tiered alert level to guide its operation. Adjustments of alert levels are based on a range of triggers/thresholds that are evaluated daily. Critical factors include epidemiological indicators for the campus, city, state and nation including positivity rates, the 7-day average for new daily incidents, and for 14-day cumulative cases; campus isolation and quarantine space plus city hospital and ventilator availability; supply chain stability of PPE and cleaning/disinfectants (measured by number of days of supply on hand); and state and local ordinances. As of January, 2021, six tiers of alerts exist from green to purple and define a set of basic operational implications.

Members of the DU community are expected to adhere to all relevant federal, state and city orders as well as campus protocols described in each alert level. In addition, social distancing, face coverings, hand hygiene, daily symptom monitoring and compliance with required testing and contact tracing are required to maintain access to campus. At this time, all rules apply uniformly, including for individuals who have been vaccinated, with one exception—during the 90-days following a positive COVID-19 test, individuals are exempt from further testing and quarantine. They are not, however, exempt from social distancing, face coverings, personal hygiene, symptom monitoring or other protocols. Non-compliance may result in a loss of campus access, and may have other implications for your relationship with the University (see the compliance and enforcement protocol for more information).

Green: Low Risk

Virus prevalence is low on campus and in the surrounding community, testing capacity and supply chain are strong, and compliance with established campus protocols is high.

  • On-campus in-person, hybrid, hyflex and online courses are available
  • Capacity for buildings is limited to 70 percent
  • Gatherings of no more than 100 people
  • Visitors allowed following visitor protocols

Blue: Low to Moderate Risk

Virus prevalence is low on campus and low to moderate in the surrounding community; conditions on campus are well controlled with strong testing and supply chain capacity.

  • On-campus in-person, hybrid, hyflex and online courses are available
  • Capacity for buildings 50-60 percent
  • Gatherings no more than 50 people
  • Visitors allowed following visitor protocols

Yellow: Moderate Risk

Virus prevalence is low to moderate and conditions on campus are well-controlled with strong testing and supply chain capacity, but indicators point toward potential challenges in responding to an increased rate of transmission.

  • On-campus in-person, hybrid, hyflex and online courses are available
  • Capacity for buildings limited to 50 percent
  • Gatherings of no more than 25 people
  • Visitors allowed following visitor protocols

Orange: Moderate to High Risk

Virus prevalence is moderate to high and indicators point to even further increase. Conditions on campus are manageable with strong testing capacity and minimum 30-day supply chain and 14-day isolation/quarantine capacity. Conditions in Denver and Colorado may be difficult; ICU bed capacity at 50% or greater.

  • On-campus in-person, hybrid, hyflex and online courses are available
  • On-campus access up to 40%, building occupancy reduced to 20-30%
  • Gatherings of no more than 10 people
  • Visitors only as an exception and must follow visitor protocols

Red: High Risk

Virus prevalence has increased on campus and in the surrounding community, and testing, isolation, quarantine and/or hospital capacity is stressed.

  • On-campus in-person and hybrid courses and activities require approval
  • On-campus access limited to no higher than 20%
  • No visitors

Purple: Severe Risk

Virus prevalence has increased on campus and in the surrounding community, and conditions are not managed–insufficient testing, isolation or quarantine resources at DU and/or insufficient hospital capacity in the surrounding community.

  • Quick pivot to fully online classes & de-densification
  • On-campus community limited to:
  • Essential on-campus employees
  • Students who cannot safely return home
  • Students who are experiencing housing insecurity


All protocols are critical to promoting a positive and safe learning and working environment at the University. Because COVID-19 spreads mainly through exhaled aerosols produced through coughing, breathing and talking, face coverings and social distancing are essential to controlling the spread of the virus during certain situations such as while students are in class. We recognize that adaptation to these new expectations and habits will take some time. It is important to establish a culture of support and caring to support long-term behavioral change. This fall, we had phenomenal adherence to our classroom and on-campus event protocols. Subsequently, there was no evidence of classroom transmission identified through careful backward contact tracing by DU and via interviews by the city and county of Denver. The University community will first seek to work with students, visitors and employees to help them adapt and provide supportive and educational opportunities to respond to a missed requirement. Faculty, supervisors and hosts are encouraged to include a summary of these requirements to increase transparency in the University’s expectations and response. Instructors, students and employees are asked to use progressive measures to address non-compliance. Failure or refusal to follow these protocols may be considered a threat to the health and safety of the community and may result in an individual's temporary or permanent removal from the University. Additional outcomes may include building restrictions, removal from housing, additional trainings and interventions. The complete protocol on enforcement and compliance can be found here.

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