Skip to Main Content

Keeping our community healthy and well is a shared responsibility. The best way to support your fellow Panthers is by taking care of your own health. Everyone who visits one of our campuses or academic locations must follow all on-campus protocols – including completing the P3 app before visiting FIU, wearing a face covering, practicing physical distancing and washing hands frequently while on campus – and observe safety guidelines in offices, classrooms, public spaces, housing and laboratories. 

Below you’ll find information related to your return to FIU. In addition to this information, researchers should also visit the Office of Research and Economic Development website.



Environmental health and safety

  • Cleaning

    Custodial Services has been continuously working during the remote learning and remote work time period.

    These everyday heroes continue to work on all of our campuses cleaning and disinfecting all public spaces, restrooms, locker rooms, general purpose classrooms, laboratories, and offices so you can feel comfortable in knowing your area is clean and ready for you when you arrive to campus each day.

    The men and women of Custodial Services clean and disinfect all surfaces that are high touch points using only disinfectants which are EPA registered and are on the EPAs List N for approved use against COVID-19.

    Learn more about Cleaning & Disinfecting

  • Classrooms and Physical Distancing

    All classroom seating is being redesigned to account for a 6-foot social distancing requirement. In rooms with movable seating, only the appropriate number of seats are available and the room is being marked off to show where the seats need to be. For classrooms with fixed seating, the seats that can be used are being marked and the seats that cannot be used are being made inaccessible. Students must also maintain awareness of their own personal space and not congregate by doors or teaching podiums. Both students and professors must wear masks at all times while class is in session.

  • Elevators

    We encourage you to use the stairs when possible and follow the directional arrows as posted. Most elevators will be limited to four (4) occupants per cab with the exception of oversized elevators such as those found in the Green Library, which will allow six (6) passengers. There will be floor stickers in every elevator indicating where you should stand. In addition, you are required to wear a face covering at all times while on campus, including while using an elevator (regardless of whether or not you are alone).

    Touch the elevator buttons with something other than your hand or fingers, if possible. The edge of a pen, for instance, can be used to press an elevator button. When you leave the elevator, please sanitize your hands immediately, preferably with soap and water. If that’s not possible, hand sanitizer dispensers are available at building entries and at the first floor elevator bank of all buildings. In the libraries, hand sanitizer dispensers are available at all elevator lobbies.

    While waiting for an elevator, please practice appropriate physical distancing.

  • Signs

    More than 22,000 signs have been printed for placement around FIU’s campuses and academic locations to help remind you of the new protocols.

  • HVAC (Heating, Ventilation and Air Conditioning)

    FIU values the wellbeing of our faculty, staff, students and visitors. We know the Panther community has many questions relating to FIU’s HVAC systems, so below we’ve compiled a list of the most commonly asked questions we’ve received as well as our answers.

    If you have concerns about the air quality of any FIU building, please call (305) 348-4600 and place a work order detailing your concerns. Facilities Management in conjunction with Environmental Health & Safety will investigate your concerns.

    Have any of the university’s HVAC systems been modified during the remote work period?

    No. Although we had an opportunity to achieve energy savings by modifying HVAC operating parameters (i.e schedules, setpoints, etc), all HVAC systems were kept on the same operating schedule (typically on for 24 hours a day/7 days a week) and temperature settings were not adjusted. Because of this, ventilation was maintained throughout the remote work period.

    Have there been changes in maintenance of FIU’s HVAC systems during the remote work period?

    No. Facilities Management has continued its scheduled preventive maintenance on all HVAC systems even though the systems have been under reduced loads as compared to historical occupancy.

    Has the amount of air changes been increased in buildings?

    Many factors influence air change rates and have been considered in detail in consideration of CDC recommendations. All of our buildings are designed to meet the codes and standards in effect at the time of construction and therefore are set to the air change rate specified by the design. (This can vary based on whether a space is occupied or unoccupied.) Because central air handling units supply air to a designed amount of air outlets, increasing the air supply at those outlets beyond the original design air flow rates will overburden the air handling unit and negatively impact the dehumidification capability of the system, which introduces the possibility of mold. Additionally, many spaces were designed without heating capability in the specific space, so increasing the amount of supply air will result in uncomfortably cold temperatures.

    How much outside or fresh air is brought into a building?

    It varies. The quantity of outside air is a fixed design parameter that takes into account the expected occupancy and use of the building, and is carried into the design of the central air handling units of the HVAC system. All of our buildings are designed to meet the codes and standards in effect at the time of construction. Outside air can range from 100 percent outside air (no recirculation) in laboratories and some office space, varying reduced percentages based on space carbon dioxide measurements, to a fixed amount based on air exhausted from a building from restroom exhaust fans. Central air handling units are designed to cool and dehumidify an amount of outside air required by the codes and standards at the time of construction. Increasing the amount of outside air can possibly overburden the central air handling unit, reducing dehumidification capability and introducing the possibility of mold.

    What types of filters are used in the HVAC systems?

    Prior to COVID-19, standard HVAC system design and industry used Minimum Efficiency Reporting Value (MERV) 7 or 8 filters for the majority of building requirements. For scenarios requiring reduced particle size such as laboratories or spaces with specialized equipment, MERV 13 filters were used. Following CDC recommendations, Facilities Management evaluated the potential to upgrade filters to minimum MERV 13. After evaluation, testing and confirmation that the central air handling units could overcome the air restrictions caused by the higher filtration of MERV 13 filters, Facilities Management began implementing the upgrades at all facilities. Due to the unforeseen high demand of MERV 13 filters, the process has taken several months but is estimated to be completed no later than November 30, 2020.

    Is the university using HEPA filters in the HVAC systems?

    No. While High Efficiency Particulate Air (HEPA) filters provide a high level of filtration and significantly reduce particle pass through as compared to MERV 13 filters, equipment must be designed specifically to use HEPA-rated filters. Larger motors and blower units are required to overcome the restriction of air flow caused by the denser filter media. Implementation of HEPA filters in a non-HEPA-rated unit would result in inadequate air flow for all spaces. FIU does not have any central air handling units rated for HEPA filter use. 

    How often are filters changed in the HVAC systems?

    The filtration for the HVAC systems at the university are based on either quarterly filter systems or quarterly/annual hybrid filter systems. A quarterly filter system uses one bank of filters changed every three months. The quarterly/annual hybrid filter system uses lesser-rated filters (changed quarterly) to pre-clean the air and then uses higher-rated filters (changed annually) to perform the final filtration for the air being distributed in the building. Regardless of the system, filter changes have remained on schedule and result in a MERV 13 level of filtration in our buildings.

    Can exterior windows or doors be opened to increase fresh air?

    Only where buildings or spaces use natural air ventilation (unconditioned air). Examples include detached restrooms, storage rooms and mechanical equipment rooms. Exterior windows or doors to conditioned spaces must be kept closed in order to avoid condensation within the space that can promote mold growth as well as overburden the HVAC system due to temperature and humidity conditions beyond design parameters.

    Is ductwork being cleaned?

    No. Cleaning of ductwork is not a normal operation and maintenance procedure for FIU facilities. The continuous operation and preventive maintenance of the HVAC systems preclude the need to perform any ductwork cleaning. 

    Does FIU use Ultraviolet (UV) lights or any other technology in the HVAC system for treating air?

    Several central air handling units have UV light systems installed, however, they are designed to improve cleanliness of surface areas in the unit itself and not for the treatment of air flow. Unfortunately, the UV light intensity required for air flow treatment is significantly greater than what is needed for surface treatment. One disadvantage to UV light air treatment systems is that they rely on recirculation in order to disinfect the air in a building. In addition to investigating the feasibility of UV lights, FIU is researching other technologies such as bi-polar ionization, which neutralizes bacteria and viruses in the building’s space. Demand for air treatment technologies has drastically increased with costs increasing as a result of supply and demand. Regardless, FIU is committed to evaluating and choosing reliable and effective systems.


Personal responsibility

We look forward to welcoming you back to campus when it is safe to do so. Several things are required for your return:

  • completion of an online training program called Panthers Protecting Panthers (students can access the course here)
  • completion of FIU’s screening app, the P3 app, before coming to campus
  • use of a face covering, proper physical distancing and frequent hand washing 

Online training

FIU has developed an online training program, called Panthers Protecting Panthers, that consists of training modules to provide guidance on maintaining a safe workplace. The course is required to be completed by all faculty, staff and students since maintaining a healthy environment is everyone’s responsibility.

P3 app

The P3 app consists of a series of screening questions that must be answered by all faculty, staff and students who come to our campuses or academic locations. In order for the app to be effective, we all have to do our part and answer the screening questions with honesty and integrity. The results of this daily check-in will initiate testing protocol established by our workgroup on Guidelines for Screening, Testing, Tracing and Disinfection.

Learn more about P3


Face coverings

As part of the Panthers Protecting Panthers initiative, everyone who comes to one of FIU’s campuses or academic locations is required to wear a face covering. 

Students: We’re giving all FIU students enrolled in the Fall 2020 semester one free face covering. You can get yours via special vending machines at MMC, BBC and the Engineering Center.

Find a vending machine close to you (Please note -- You’ll need your FIU One Card to get your free face covering from the vending machine).

Faculty: All instructors who teach an in-person class are required to mask at all times during that class.

Faculty and Staff: If you are alone in your office and the door is closed, a face covering is not required. If, however, someone visits you in your office, all of you must wear a face covering. It is also recommended that hand sanitizer be available for everyone.

Contact tracing

Contact tracing for students and employees is an integral component of the university’s plan to keep our community healthy and well. This function will be conducted by the university’s own COVID-19 Prevention and Response Team. After interviewing employees and students who test positive for COVID-19, the team will contact the identified close campus contacts and advise them to obtain a COVID-19 test and quarantine themselves. The team will also contact the Facilities Department to clean and disinfect any affected buildings. The team will also be responsible for providing clearance documentation to students and employees who have recovered from COVID-19 infection.

Should you have any additional questions, please call the COVID Response Team (305) 348-1919



COVID-19

Symptoms

According to the Centers for Disease Control (CDC), older adults and people who have severe underlying medical conditions like heart or lung disease or diabetes seem to be at higher risk for developing more serious complications from COVID-19 illness, but anyone can have mild to severe symptoms anywhere from 2-14 days after exposure to the virus – or not at all if they are asymptomatic.

People with these symptoms may have COVID-19:

  • Fever or chills
  • Cough
  • Shortness of breath or difficulty breathing
  • Fatigue
  • Muscle or body aches
  • Headache
  • New loss of taste or smell
  • Sore throat
  • Congestion or runny nose
  • Nausea or vomiting
  • Diarrhea

This list does not include all possible symptoms.

Is it the flu or COVID-19?

Influenza (flu) and COVID-19 are both contagious respiratory illnesses, but they are caused by different viruses. While they share many of the same characteristics, there are some key differences between the two. It may be hard for you to tell whether you have the flu or COVID-19 based on symptoms alone, and testing may be needed to help confirm a diagnosis.

While more is learned every day, there is still a lot that is unknown about COVID-19 and the virus that causes it. The CDC has a list of symptoms that compares COVID-19 and the flu, given the best available information to date.

Returning to school or work

Per Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s guidelines, students and employees coming back to campus after a positive COVID-19 diagnosis must:

  • Wait at least 10 days from the day of the test or the onset of symptoms; AND
  • Have no fever for at least 24 hours (without using fever-reducing medications); AND
  • Have had all other symptoms improve


Get testing

If you need a COVID-19-related test, FIU can help.

  • Faculty & Staff

    Call FIU Health at 305-348-3627 to schedule an appointment. Tests are administered Monday through Friday at FIU Health’s MMC location beginning at 4 p.m. each day. Appointments must be made at least one day in advance.

    You can get the following tests at an FIU facility:

    • Nasal swab (RT-PCR) molecular test. Results in 24-48 hours. Patient’s insurance will be billed. If you have no insurance, the self-pay price is $100. (Offered at FIU Health MMC)
    • Antibody blood test. Results in 24-48 hours. Patient’s insurance will be billed. If you have no insurance, the self-pay price is $60. (Offered at FIU Health MMC)
  • Students

    Call the FIU Student Health Center at 305-348-2401 to make an appointment at MMC or 305-919-5620 to make an appointment at BBC. Appointments must be made at least one day in advance.

     You can get the following tests at an FIU facility:

    • Nasal swab (RT-PCR) molecular test. Results in 24-48 hours. Patient’s insurance will be billed. If you have no insurance, the self-pay price is $100. (Offered at FIU Student Health MMC and BBC)
    • Antibody blood test. Results in 24-48 hours. Patient’s insurance will be billed. If you have no insurance, the self-pay price is $60. (Offered at FIU Student Health MMC)

FIU is partnering with Miami-Dade County, Florida Department of Health, and Miami-Dade County Fair & Exposition to operate a COVID-19 drive-thru testing site. Free testing takes place from 9 a.m. to 3 p.m. daily by appointment only. The entrance to the site is located on S.W. 107th Avenue and 20th Street. Appointments must be made by calling 305-499-8767. The call center opens at 9 a.m. and takes appointments for the following day until all slots are filled. To qualify for testing, a person must be at least 5 years old. 

You may also be tested through your healthcare provider or other county sites.

Self-quarantine

Quarantine is used to keep someone who might have been exposed to COVID-19 away from others. Quarantine helps prevent spread of disease that can occur before a person knows they are sick or if they are infected with the virus without feeling symptoms. People in quarantine should stay home, separate themselves from others, monitor their health, and follow directions from their state or local health department.

Who needs to quarantine?

Anyone who has been in close contact with someone who has COVID-19. 

What counts as close contact?

  • You were within 6 feet of someone who has COVID-19 for a total of 15 minutes or more
  • You provided care at home to someone who is sick with COVID-19
  • You had direct physical contact with the person (touched, hugged, or kissed them)
  • You shared eating or drinking utensils
  • They sneezed, coughed, or somehow got respiratory droplets on you

Steps to take

Key steps to take while waiting for your test results

Stay home and monitor your health

  • Stay home for 14 days after your last contact with a person who has COVID-19
  • Watch for fever (100.4◦F), cough, shortness of breath, loss of smell and/or taste, or other symptoms of COVID-19
  • If possible, stay away others, especially people who are at higher risk for getting very sick from COVID-19. FIU strongly recommends staying away from others for the full 14 days, even if you test during this time and the results are negative, because the incubation period for the virus is 2-14 days.

Frequently asked questions