8/19- USC Fall 2021 Semester Update

August 19, 2021

Dear Community Partners,

We hope this letter finds you and your loved ones safe and well. After nearly a year and a half, USC begins in-person academic instruction on Monday, August 23 with most students, staff, and faculty returning to the University Park campus. This return follows significant efforts to provide a safe environment for living, working, and studying.

Our commitment is to continue working closely with all our community members to ensure the safety of everyone on our campuses and in our neighborhoods. Campus safety measures have been and will continue to be informed by the guidance and advice from public health experts, including the U.S. Centers for Disease Control, L.A. County Department of Public Health, the state Division of Occupational Safety and Health, and USC’s team of medical professionals. 

Below you will find a brief update on USC’s current plans for the Fall semester and more information about our efforts. You can always follow updates on our COVID-19 Resource Center and the We Are SC site and direct general questions to our COVID-19 hotline: (213) 740-6291 or covid19@usc.edu. Please know that we will continue to assess and adjust should the public health situation change. 

Vaccine Policy Enforcement & Increased Frequency of Testing:USC policy requires all students, faculty, and staff to be vaccinated for COVID-19 or submit a request for a medical or religious exemption. Any unvaccinated persons will be subject to required regular testing (once per week for faculty, staff, and graduate students; twice per week for undergraduates). In addition, we are reinstituting regular testing of our student community, regardless of vaccination status, until further notice. More than 90% of our staff and faculty and 92% of domestic undergrad and graduate students are already vaccinated. If you or your loved one needs a vaccine, please sign up here to find a location near you.

Masking Rules & Physical Distancing:  In compliance with the revised L.A. County Department of Public Health order, everyone on campus must wear a mask indoors and at large outdoor events, regardless of vaccination status. Everyone on campus will be encouraged to maintain good hand hygiene, physically distance 6 ft. or more when possible, and eat outdoors when dining with others, if possible.

Trojan Check Wellness Assessment: All individuals — students, faculty, staff, and visitors – are required to complete the Trojan Check wellness assessment before entering campus. If you plan to visit the campus, please complete your symptom check via the Trojan Check website or download the app from the Apple or Google store. In addition, all USC students and employees must also complete COVID-19 health, hygiene, and safety training.

USC Code of Conduct and Community Standards: We know that the return of students, faculty, and staff to campus and the community requires a renewed commitment to being good, respectful neighbors. We are committed to the USC Code of Ethics and its underlying principles which are tightly woven into the fabric of our community. USC Student Affairs takes this very seriously, especially with off-campus housing and student activities.  Should you have any concerns or questions, please contact Steve Wesson, Managing Director, Community Outreach and Village Ombudsman at swesson@usc.edu.

USC Game Day Changes at the L.A. Memorial Coliseum:  USC football’s first home game kicks off on Saturday, September 4, at 2 pm versus San Jose State University. To further ensure a safe on-campus environment on game days, USC is enacting several changes for home games in the Coliseum for the 2021 season, including mandating masks, opening campus six hours before kickoff, and requiring reservations for all on-campus tailgates. USC will continue to monitor COVID-19 public health guidelines for the football season and all student athletics. For more information about on-campus game day activities, please visit gameday.usc.edu.  


USC continues to collaborate with our community partners as we recover from the COVID-19 pandemic. Our partnerships with community leaders – like you – have been critical in our recent efforts which include: USC’s pharmacists and nurses helped administer over 1.3 million COVID-19 vaccines and the university continues to partner with public health agencies and community organizations to support vaccine distribution in our community.

USC created the Office of Business Diversity and Economic Opportunity(BDEO) to expand opportunities and resources for small businesses owned by minorities, women, and veterans. The BDEO will ensure minority-owned businesses are enabled and empowered to compete for contracts with the University and other major public and private entities. Through the Trojan Shop Local initiative, USC encourages students, faculty, and staff to buy and support diverse local businesses in our campus neighborhoods.

USC led a co-design process aimed at strengthening trust between the university, DPS, and the broader community and making security more equitable. The Department of Public Safety Community Advisory Board (CAB) report represents 10 months of research and analysis, coupled with the findings of a collaborative process that engaged more than 700 students, faculty, staff members, neighbors, and current and former law enforcement officers in a series of town halls, workshops, and meetings. The university is already working on implementing the CAB’s recommendations.

The USC Good Neighbors Campaign, supported by the generous contributions of staff and faculty, awarded $1.3 million to community programs combating COVID-19.  The grants support local nonprofits and programs focused on food and housing insecurity, improving health outcomes, and closing the digital divide for remote learning students. The USC School for Early Childhood Education (Head Start), one of USC’s longest-running neighborhood programs, continued to provide nutritious meals to our most vulnerable children and families in the community.  Families may access healthy meals, Mondays through Fridays, at three Head Start locations.

USC and the City of L.A. have partnered to develop a plan to grow an urban forest in the communities of Lincoln Heights, El Sereno, and Ramona Gardens. Under this new blueprint, tree planting could double the shade on the Eastside. USC is proud of this Fall’s incoming class. Diversity and academic achievement distinguish our newest Trojans, including a record one-in-five (20%) are first-generation college students.  LAUSD’s Foshay Learning Center, near the University Park Campus, continues to serve as the university’s top feeder school for the incoming freshman class. Public high schools comprised 10 of the top 11 high schools that received the highest number of admissions offers. This was also a historic year for the USC Neighborhood Academic Initiative (NAI) – 100% of high school graduates attending college this Fall and a record 63 accepted to USC tuition-free.We know there is much work ahead to recover from the pandemic and build a shared vision for a brighter, more inclusive, and equitable future for the region.

I invite you to sign up for our community newsletter to learn more about our local programs and partnership opportunities here. We look forward to working closely with you to strengthen our communities. Please do not hesitate to reach out should you have any questions or suggestions.


Samuel Garrison

Senior Vice President

USC University Relations