Welcome Back Guidance and Update

Message to USC Faculty and Staff

From: Charles F. Zukoski, Provost and Senior Vice President for Academic Affairs; Felicia A. Washington, Senior Vice President of Human Resources

Dear Colleagues,

On August 14, our students will begin to arrive on campus, move into their housing, and prepare for the start of classes. We are welcoming them back knowing we have worked hard to provide a safe environment for living, working, and studying. We are resuming our in-person academic mission, and we are grateful to you for adjusting to meet the needs of our community. Our students are excited and ready to come back to USC.

We would not ask our students, faculty, or staff to return if we did not have confidence that we have put the proper protocols and safeguards in place. These measures have been and will continue to be informed by 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.

You have helped the university tremendously during an extraordinary time. We sincerely thank you and are eager to reconnect with you. In just the past few days, we have seen more of each other and the excitement of being back and the promise of what we can achieve together is exhilarating. Some of you have expressed concern about this latest development and the decision to return to campus full time. The simple truth is we need all hands on deck with 44,000 students returning to campus, including two classes of students who will be on campus for the first time. It is our responsibility to ensure that we make this a successful semester by offering the highest level of support possible. Over the next month and throughout the semester, we will reassess and adapt as the situation warrants.

None of us expected to be navigating the ever-evolving reality of the pandemic. Patience, flexibility, and consideration will be essential for all of us as we transition back to campus life and work.

The information below is provided to assist you with the return. The points are key to the safety and success of our return. Please read them carefully. We all need to respect and follow these protocols so we can remain open and return to our academic mission safely.

  • Vaccine Policy Enforcement: Effective August 16, you cannot come to campus if you are not compliant with USC’s vaccine policy. Strict enforcement of vaccine policies in communities has proven highly effective at preventing serious symptoms. If you have questions about how to comply with the policy, email covid19@usc.edu. There is still time to get vaccinated, and we can’t protect each other without your help.
  • Masking: In compliance with the LA County Department of Public Health order, everyone must wear a mask indoors, regardless of vaccination status. Indoor masking will help us protect ourselves from transmission and will remain in effect until further notice. It has been shown that the spread of the virus is minimal indoors when all are following safety protocols such as masking. Please exercise safe distancing when you eat meals and gather with colleagues. We also strongly encourage facial coverings in crowded outdoor settings.
  • TrojanCheck at Perimeter Access Points: You should expect to have your TrojanCheck verified each day before you enter campus. Thank you to all currently involved in reestablishing staffed gates at campus entry points on UPC and other specific areas like the fitness centers, student housing, and other buildings on both campuses. Your TrojanCheck may also be verified before entering buildings.
  • Increased Frequency of Testing: We are reinstituting regular testing of our student community, regardless of vaccination status, until further notice. In addition, we will require regular testing for all on-site faculty and staff who are unvaccinated because they have an approved medical or religious exemption.
  • Outdoor Venues and Events: We have installed outdoor canopies across UPC to allow for additional study and other activities. We are working on new guidelines for events based on public health guidelines and will share those separately.
  • Air Quality, Cleaning Protocols, and Isolation Support: We have prepared the campus to minimize risk. Each classroom and indoor space has new, heightened air quality standards consistent with health guidelines established by the American Society of Heating, Refrigerating and Air-Conditioning Engineers (ASHRAE). In addition, we have stringent cleaning protocols for classrooms and offices.

With the return of thousands of students, we are prepared for a possible uptick in cases two or three weeks into the semester. We have increased isolation support for these students. We ask that you prepare to support students to continue their studies if they need to isolate.

We hope this information will assure you that we are ready, and that the time is right to work together to pursue our in-person mission of academic excellence. We have a responsibility to protect each other and our students while doing so. Let’s inspire each other to be our best selves – our students are counting on us to create an exciting, productive, and safe semester.

On Thursday, August 12, at 1:00 p.m., the university will host a webinar for faculty and staff to provide further detail on the above measures. We invite you to register and submit any additional questions or concerns you may have.

We welcome you back and appreciate your dedication and patience.


Charles F. Zukoski, Provost and Senior Vice President for Academic Affairs

Felicia A. Washington, Senior Vice President of Human Resources

cc: Office of the President
Academic Deans
President’s Senior Leadership Team
Provost’s Leadership Team
Academic Senate
Staff Assembly
GSG President
USG President