Dear USF Community,
Thank you for all you have done to ensure that we had a safe and healthy fall 2022 start. We have been working closely with the president’s cabinet, deans, the Covid Management Team, our medical consultants, and other groups on campus. With their input, we write with an important update to our COVID-19 protocols and policies. We appreciate everyone's efforts as we adapt to developing public health guidance.
It is estimated that 95 percent of the population in the United States has some form of immunity or protection against COVID-19 due to vaccination, infection with a previous variant, or both. This immunity, combined with the wide availability of tests and treatments, has greatly reduced the risk of severe illness, hospitalization, and death from COVID-19 for many people. Cases continue to be low on campus and in San Francisco.
Face Coverings on Campus
Per our protocols, which are in line with newly updated CDC and SFDPH guidance, and due to local transmission levels being categorized as “low,” we are making indoor masking optional. This adjustment will take effect on Wednesday, Oct. 19. The deans of each school and college have discretion to continue to require masking in programs within their schools and college due to the exposure risk related to training and work in professional settings. Please refer to any communications from the dean's office. In addition, some faculty, librarians, and staff instructors may ask their students to continue wearing face coverings in classrooms. We ask that students please comply with faculty members' requests. Any questions or concerns about wearing face coverings in classrooms may be directed to the dean’s office of your school or college.
We will continue monitoring community infection levels and sharing any changes with the larger USF community. When levels are in the low range, masking will be optional. In the moderate range, masking will be recommended. When levels are in the high range, we will once again require indoor masking.
Please remember that people may choose to wear a mask, and that masking may be required in other places by local or state authorities. It is always best to continue to carry a mask with you at all times. All community members should continue to stay up-to-date with vaccinations and get tested if symptoms present.
Residential Guest Policy Update
When the adjustment to mask optional goes into effect on Wednesday, Oct. 19, Student Housing and the Office of Community Living will remove all residential guest policy restrictions currently in place. Residential guest policies will revert back to the pre-COVID guest policy, as outlined in section 2.1.I Guest and Visitation Policy of the Fogcutter Student Handbook. Further information regarding the Guest and Visitation Policy will be sent to all residential students prior to Wednesday, Oct. 19. Guest policies may be reevaluated throughout the semester, and should a mask mandate be reinstated, some or all of the existing residential guest policy restrictions may be reinstated.
As a member of the USF community, you should self-monitor for symptoms and not come to campus if you are symptomatic, even if you have a negative test. You no longer need to complete the daily online Dons Health Check. Although completion of the health check is no longer required or tied to your One Card, you should still monitor your symptoms and report positive COVID test results through the positive intake reporting form. You may also contact firstname.lastname@example.org and let them know you tested positive.
Fall Testing Schedule
COVID testing through GoHealth for students, faculty, and staff is available on Mondays from 1-3 p.m., Wednesdays from 1-3 p.m., and Thursdays from 9:30-11:30 a.m. in University Center 501. To register, please visit HPS COVID-19 Resources.
Students, faculty, and staff who are reporting symptoms and who identify as close contacts will receive instructions for testing from the COVID tracing team. Drop-in hours for symptomatic testing, close-contact testing, and end-of-isolation testing is offered on the fifth floor of University Center. Students with approved exemptions will continue to be required to test weekly at GoHealth testing and have received additional information.
Vaccines and Boosters
It is unclear the amount of protection that infection with previous variants provides against Omicron and its many subvariants. Vaccines have been demonstrated time and again to still have significant protection against severe disease, even against new variants. If you have had a previous infection, vaccines provide added immunity. In addition, they have been proven to be very safe. It is strongly recommended that everyone remain up to date with their vaccination as outlined by the CDC and California Department of Public Health. The new bivalve vaccine booster is different from prior boosters because it is effective against the new Omicron variants that are circulating.
Students need to submit their COVID-19 vaccine and/or booster records through Med+Proctor. Faculty and staff may update their information in Workday by following the upload instructions. Find a COVID-19 vaccine or booster clinic near you. On Friday, Oct. 28, there will be an additional COVID-19 booster and flu shot clinic from 8 a.m.–12 p.m. in UC 402/403. You may schedule an appointment here, and walk-ins are also welcome.
Please continue to self-monitor for symptoms, do not come to USF if you are not feeling well, and report any positive test results at email@example.com. Stay up-to-date on COVID guidance by visiting USF Together and by downloading the new USF mobile app.
An abridged version of USF’s contact tracing procedures is available on the testing and tracing page of USF Together.
We know that at times a member of our community may be made aware of a positive case prior to firstname.lastname@example.org being notified. If a member of the community discloses to you that they have tested positive for COVID, and they did not test at one of USF’s on-campus testing clinics, please refer them to email@example.com so we can work through our protocols and send the proper notifications. When a student tests positive and confirms which classes they have attended during their 48-hour infectious period, faculty members and fellow classmates will receive communication from a member of the COVID tracing team. Communication may be delayed depending on when the team receives the information about the positive result or whether someone had symptoms before testing positive. We can all do our part by not coming to campus if we are not feeling well.
Close Contacts and Positive Tests
In the event that you are informed that you are a close contact of a COVID-positive individual — whether or not that individual is a member of the USF community — please be informed of the following steps regardless of vaccination status:
- After being exposed to COVID-19 immediately begin to wear a well-fitted mask and monitor your symptoms.
- On or after the fifth day following exposure, you should get tested, even if you don’t develop symptoms. If symptoms develop sooner, test on day three.
- Always wear a well-fitted mask and contact firstname.lastname@example.org with any questions.
In the event that you test positive, please follow these steps:
- Complete the positive intake reporting form or contact email@example.com and let them know you tested positive.
- Isolate away from others who are not COVID-positive. Upon receiving your positive result, the COVID tracing team will do an intake to determine your length of isolation. They will provide guidance on isolation procedures and when you are eligible to test out of isolation. The isolation period is currently 10 days, with the ability to be released on or after your fifth day of isolation if you receive a negative test. You will also be provided information on your infectious window and how to notify those you have had close contact with.
- If you are a residential student, the housing office will be in touch with you to coordinate your isolation location and resources.
All visitors to USF are expected to follow our community guidelines. Visitors must complete symptom monitoring and avoid coming to campus if they do not feel well. To ensure clear communication of these guidelines, the group that is sponsoring a visitor or event (e.g., academic departments, admissions, athletics, development events, student housing, etc.) is responsible for ensuring that their visitors understand visitor expectations. Business units that host visitors are being asked to build these visitor expectations into their existing workflows. Vaccinated guests no longer need to show that they are up-to-date with vaccinations prior to coming to campus. If transmission levels change this may change.
Thank you for your continued cooperation and for all you are doing to keep our community safe and healthy.
Paul J. Fitzgerald, S.J.
Provost and Vice President, Academic Affairs