6/29: Fall 2020 Semester on USC Campuses: Health, Safety and Well-being

To: USC Students and Families

From: Sarah Van Orman, Chief Health Officer for USC Student Health
Winston B. Crisp, Vice President for Student Affairs

Date: June 29, 2020

Subject: Fall 2020 Semester on USC Campuses: Health, Safety and Well-being

We hope you are staying safe and well during this intense and universally challenging summer. Our teams are thinking of you every day as we plan for fall.

Our decisions for the fall semester require we remain nimble especially as COVID-19 cases in Southern California continue to rise. Reducing on-campus density in buildings, outdoors and during activities, will be needed to ensure your safety and to comply with L.A. County Department of Health guidelines. We will update you frequently. Here is what we know now about how our campus will look when classes resume in August.  


  • Physical distancing markers, reconfiguration of pedestrian traffic flow, and timed entrances for appointments to facilities will be used to prevent close contact between individuals. Signage and hand sanitizing stations will be prominent on campus.
  • Face coverings will be required on campus. In most cases, this means cloth face coverings, in specialized settings these may be more specialized masks (that will be supplied by the University). 
  • A daily symptom check, available online through trojancheck.usc.edu, will be required each time you enter any campus and daily for students residing in USC Housing. The Trojan Check system will generate an automatic scannable code (on your phone, or downloadable) that you will use to gain entry. 
  • Campus housing is being reconfigured for appropriate distancing between students residing on campus. All rooms will be single occupancy this year. Details will be available from USC Housing in the near future.
  • A contact tracing team of health professionals in USC Student Health has been working to identify, notify, trace and isolate positive cases since the emergence of cases in L.A. earlier this spring. The team is prepared to quickly identify exposed individuals and implement quarantine. 
  • Regular testing for COVID-19 will be part of our public health strategy. This includes clinical testing for symptomatic and exposed students, faculty and staff on campuses; as well as randomized community testing for virus prevalence to help determine “hot spots” among populations, locations and interactions (people, place and time).
  • Classes held in person will be limited in size so that students can maintain 6 feet of physical distance during instruction.  


  • Cases and outbreaks are expected to occur. All students should have honest and thoughtful conversations about their personal health and well-being with their families and/or personal support networks in order to decide whether any sort of campus-return is right for them.
  • Isolation and quarantine procedures will be available and required. When the inevitable cases of COVID-19 occur, individuals who are exposed will be required to quarantine for 14 days and those who are ill will be required to isolate for a minimum of 10 days and sometimes longer. While USC is prepared to provide support through dedicated accommodations and regular check-ins, quarantine and isolation may be difficult for many students. Students should consider this impact when deciding to return.  
  • Students with high risk medical conditions, such as underlying medical conditions (e.g., immunocompromised, pregnancy, diabetes, heart or lung conditions) should discuss their health with their current provider. Students should consider whether being in a campus environment in the city of Los Angeles is right for them this semester. If you decide to access campus this fall and have a chronic medical condition, contact USC Student Health; please make sure you have a continuity of care plan with campus providers. 


  • Most courses will be available through online instruction. Courses classified as in-person, hybrid, or online will be available for viewing through WebReg in the next couple of weeks. Faculty in all schools have been working all summer to create exciting opportunities for remote learning and engagement. You will be able to continue your progress toward degree while remaining geographically remote. Leaves of absence for continuing students will be available in specific circumstances; discuss this with your academic advisor for guidance.
  • Campus life will be different this fall. Safe, physically distanced outdoor activities, as well as some in-person dining and meetings will be permitted through University and L.A. County guidelines. We are currently working on a number of exciting extracurricular, professional, and cultural programs, initiatives and events to keep students engaged and thriving — intellectually, socially and emotionally. Through the USC Welcome Experience, students will make connections to peers through programs designed to support student needs and build relationships. More information will follow. 
  • Students will need to limit the number of close contact exposures and avoid congregating with many friends at a time. Person-to-person contact poses the greatest risk of spreading infection. Large social gatherings will be strictly prohibited. 


  • Complete your required immunizations in advance. For most students (non-health professions related) these requirements include measles, mumps, rubella, meningococcal disease and varicella (“chicken pox”). For many international students, a tuberculosis test is also required. Upload accompanying documents to usc.edu/myshr for early verification. Additional health information is explained in videos from USC Student Health.
  • NOTE: All travelers from international destinations are required by the L.A. County Dept. of Public Health to quarantine for 14 days upon arrival to the United States before arriving on campus or to campus housing. This requirement, combined with other U.S. government travel restrictions for non-U.S. citizens, pose difficulties for arrival and in-person attendance for our international students this semester; the University and academic programs will be sharing guidance on navigating this situation very soon.
  • Make a commitment to getting a flu shot. This fall season’s flu season is expected to coincide with COVID-19 cases. Reducing flu cases will relieve potential surge at health care centers and hospitals throughout the region and reduce the chance for required isolation in the event you become sick. Flu vaccines are generally available in late September/early October. 
  • Complete the “Health, Hygiene and Safety for Students” online training – launching July 1 through Trojanlean.usc.edu (requires flash-compatible browser) — and check University guidelines often as they may evolve over the course of the pandemic. Stay up to date by also checking your USC email regularly. 
  • Update your current address in OASISStudents will receive information based on their current location (whether in the Los Angeles region or elsewhere in the world). Please keep this information updated every semester. 
  • Create a support and resiliency plan. Make plans for regular check-ins with friends, family and your support networks. Be honest about how you are doing. Campus support resources are available through Campus ActivitiesStudent Equity and Inclusion ProgramsOffice of Religious and Spiritual LifeTrojans Care for Trojans; USC Student Health, Counseling and Mental Health Services (all providers are professional licensed clinicians and faculty in the Dept. of Psychiatry and Behavioral Sciences in the Keck School of Medicine of USC); and the many student support offices and programs in the academic schools and units. The virtual counseling outreach drop-in program, “Let’s Talk,” is available to all students regardless of location.


Compliance with public health measures is mandatory. To prevent widespread infections and possible campus closure, all students must play a role and take these measures seriously. Students who put others at risk by violating these expectations will be subject to action that may lead to removal from campus.

Coming to campus this fall is a community social contract, built on the trust and expectation that you and all other students, will make the health and safety of your fellow Trojans your top priority in all your actions – every member of our community, their families and loved ones, are counting on each of us to keep them safe as we interact on campus. 

We are stronger together when we keep each other safe. We are the USC Trojan Family, lifelong and worldwide, and we Fight On together and always.

The health, safety, and well-being of our community is the highest priority of the University of Southern California. Visit coronavirus.usc.edu for current information; send questions to covid19@usc.edu

To notify the University about a positive case of COVID-19 or exposure to a positive case, call 213-740-6291. To arrange for testing due to exposure or symptoms, call USC Student Health at 213-740-9355 (WELL).