Dear USF Students and Families,
I know you — and your families — are managing many issues related to the pandemic and the Omicron variant. With the stress and worry this brings, I am grateful for your flexibility and attention as the university continues to share updates through regular messaging and on USF Together regarding how USF is proceeding.
We have learned a tremendous amount from the fall about how to operate in a pandemic environment and keep our community as safe as possible. With vaccination rates as high as USF’s, a vaccination and booster mandate in place, and a demonstrated track record of implementing testing, mask-wearing, quarantining, contact tracing, and prudent facilities management, USF is prepared to provide a safe space for teaching and learning starting next week.
We have learned from listening to students, faculty, staff, and families throughout the pandemic that in-person learning is the preferred modality and is one of USF’s distinctive strengths. We have also seen the mental health toll the pandemic has taken on students. Interacting with faculty and staff and learning beside peers in person is vital to the learning experience at USF and one that we have heard our students are eager to continue.
Please be assured that we continue to monitor public health guidance carefully and are engaging with our medical consultants on a daily basis.
Unless students have heard differently from their instructor or dean, or have a previously registered remote class, spring semester classes beginning the week of Jan. 24 will be in person.
The university is following protocols outlined by the California Department of Public Health and the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention in conjunction with ongoing discussions with health and medical consultants, including reentry and surveillance testing, masking, contact tracing, quarantine and isolation protocols, and prudent facilities management to keep our on-campus community as safe as possible. Student Life is providing N95 masks to unvaccinated faculty, students, and staff who have approved exemptions and KN95 and surgical masks will also be provided as supplies allow. We continue to reduce density by limiting in-person meetings and events, and holding faculty and staff meetings and office hours remotely.
A Few Reminders:
Dons Health Check and Building Access
All students need their USF OneCard or mobile OneCard (available for iOS and Android) to access campus buildings. We remind you to complete the Dons Health Check daily symptom monitoring and do not come to campus if you are not feeling well. If you do not complete the Dons Health Check survey, you will not be able to access buildings on campus.
We also recommend everyone carry with them a photo or hard copy of their vaccination record and/or a digital vaccination record in order to participate in indoor events that require proof of vaccination in San Francisco, including some events taking place on campus.
Mandatory Vaccination Policy
All students, faculty, librarians, and staff are required to be vaccinated and have a booster (when eligible). This policy is resulting in a nearly fully vaccinated population on our campuses:
- At this point in time, 96.1 percent of continuing students who are currently registered for one or more in-person classes are vaccinated and students continue to upload their documentation. 79.4 percent of new spring 2022 admits are currently vaccinated. Additional students are uploading their documentation daily.
- In total to date, 95.1 percent of students are vaccinated. We expect to meet or exceed our fall vaccination numbers of 96.8 percent.
- To date, 97 percent of faculty, staff, and librarians have attested to being fully vaccinated.
Booster Mandate for Students
To prepare for the start of the semester on Jan. 24, the university implemented a booster mandate for all USF students who do not currently have an approved vaccine exemption. The mandate requires that all eligible, fully vaccinated students receive a COVID-19 booster and provide documentation of it to Med+Proctor by today, Friday, Jan. 21. Individuals are eligible for a booster six months after receiving the final dose of the Moderna vaccine, five months after receiving the final dose of the Pfizer vaccine, and two months after receiving the Johnson & Johnson vaccine. This information has already been shared with students, and the latest CDC guidance on boosters is available on the CDC website.
USF will host three booster clinics at the beginning of the spring semester. These clinics are open to faculty, staff, and students. They will take place on the following dates:
- Saturday, Jan. 22, 10 a.m. – 3 p.m., UC 402/403
- Thursday, Feb. 3, 12 – 2 p.m., UC 502/504
- Thursday, Feb. 10, 12 – 2 p.m., UC 502/504
Thank you to those students who have already uploaded their booster information.
Pre-Arrival Testing Expectations
Prior to the holiday break, all USF students received information regarding quarantine and testing requirements. All students, regardless of vaccination status, are required to provide a negative COVID test result one to two days prior to returning to campus. The test can be done with a home test or a PCR or rapid antigen test from a clinic or at one of USF's on campus testing sites. As a reminder, on-campus COVID testing appointments are available this week through our provider, GoHealth. You must register online in advance. If you are getting a test with GoHealth you will need to have a copy of your insurance card and a photo ID and will speak with a medical doctor prior to the test. If you have been referred to UC 5th floor for a test please bring your university ID. Building access is tied to this requirement. Students at additional campuses have or will receive additional testing information directly from their campuses. Test results, including a photo of your self-administered at-home test, should be uploaded into Med+Proctor. Failure to submit a test result may result in not being allowed to move into campus housing or attend in-person classes. Should you receive a positive test result prior to returning you must complete your isolation at the location in which your test was taken. For questions, contact email@example.com.
For Residential Students: Students residing in campus housing will be required to provide a negative test result or confirmation of a positive covid test within the past 90 days to be approved to move into the residence halls for spring 2022. Residential students have been given ongoing information from Student Housing regarding return to campus expectations as well as updates on policies adjustments for spring 2022. Any additional information will be shared with students to their campus email and through the Student Housing portal.
On-Campus COVID-19 Testing
When classes resume on Jan. 24, on-campus COVID testing will be available every Wednesday and Thursday for faculty, staff, and students. To register, please visit HPS COVID-19 Resources. Students with approved exemptions and employees who have not uploaded proof of vaccination will continue to be required to test and have received additional information. Students, faculty, and staff reporting symptoms during the spring semester will receive instructions for testing from the COVID Tracing Team. Limited drop-in hours on the fifth floor of the University Center will also be available outside of these testing sites. Further information will be shared as these dates and times are finalized.
When you return to campus, we highly recommend that you upgrade your mask to the best available protection. Please see the latest guidance from the California Department of Public Health, Choosing your Mask, which recommends, at minimum, a triple-layer cloth mask made of tightly-woven fabric and well fitted to the face with a nose wire, followed by a well-fitted surgical mask or a surgical mask along with a cloth mask. The highest level of protection comes from KN95, N95, and KF94 masks. All masks should be well-fitting, and must fully cover your mouth and nose.
Contact Tracing Procedures and Quarantine Guidelines
As a reminder, USF has established detailed procedures for COVID-19 contact tracing and testing. Specific procedures have been established for employees, and for residential and non-residential students. An abridged version of these procedures is available on the testing and tracing page of USF Together, and the full, detailed procedures can be found in the COVID-19 Response Protocol section. For questions, please contact firstname.lastname@example.org.
USF is aligning with the latest update to isolation and quarantine guidelines from the San Francisco Department of Public Health.
Food at Events
As communicated earlier, USF will continue the policy implemented in fall 2021 of not permitting food and beverage at indoor events. Food and beverage will continue to be served outside only. USF will reexamine this policy throughout the semester and communicate any changes.
Health and Safety Reminders
Please review the following practices to protect your health and well-being, and the health and well-being of the community:
- Continue to monitor for symptoms. You must submit your daily Dons Health Check or submit symptoms directly to email@example.com. If you are not coming to campus, you are not required to submit daily symptom checks, but please contact firstname.lastname@example.org if you need information.
- Wash your hands often for at least 20 seconds.
- Wear face coverings while indoors, and outdoors when distancing cannot be maintained.
- Limit large group settings whenever possible.
- Stay home when sick or not feeling well.
- Utilize hand sanitizer often, including from the stands located throughout campus.
- Thank you for your understanding and cooperation as we continue to navigate this complex and evolving situation. Thank you for living our mission and doing your part to keep our community as safe as possible. Your flexibility in the face of change is appreciated.
Vice President of Student Life