Updates to Campus Protocols for Students this Fall

Dear USF Students and Families,

The university community is eagerly anticipating the fall 2021 semester, when we once again will see USF brimming with vibrant campus life — in-person classes, on-campus events, athletics, and more. As we prepare for a return to mostly in-person activities, we continue to prioritize the health, safety, and well-being of our community and are carefully monitoring public health guidance. With a number of significant announcements from the city and state in the last few weeks, we are pleased to share updates to policies and protocols that will guide campus life this fall.

As you may know, the State of California recently announced a return to business as usual, including the elimination of the tier system and the lifting of most capacity and distancing restrictions. The City and County of San Francisco followed suit, eliminating capacity limits and almost all local restrictions on business operations. In addition, California has now aligned with new CDC face covering guidelines, in which vaccinated individuals do not need to wear face coverings indoors or outdoors. We are fortunate that San Francisco is able to ease restrictions due to the city’s high vaccination rate.

What does this mean for you and for all of us at USF? This message provides updates to campus policies on face coverings, physical distancing, course offerings, and more. We also encourage you to visit USF Together, the hub for COVID-19 guidance, news on reopening, and resources to stay safe and informed.

Face Coverings

The California Department of Public Health in June announced new guidance regarding face coverings, and USF is following that same guidance. Members of the USF community who are fully vaccinated no longer need to wear face coverings on campus, whether indoors or outdoors.

At the same time, we recognize that fully vaccinated individuals may continue to wear face coverings on campus for a myriad of reasons. We underscore the importance of respect for all, including for those who are vaccinated and choose not to wear a mask, those who wear masks regardless of vaccination status, and those with an exemption who are unvaccinated. Unvaccinated members of the USF community are required to wear face coverings while indoors on campus.

Please see the CDC’s current face covering guidance

Building Capacity and Physical Distancing

In alignment with the City and County of San Francisco and the State of California, there will be normal building capacity limits and no physical distancing restrictions as we return to campus this fall. This means that more classes will be in-person than originally planned, common spaces will be available for group gatherings, kitchen and laundry facilities in the residence halls will be open, and more.

Please visit USF Together for more information


  • Course Modalities: Due to the relaxation of physical distancing guidelines, some courses originally listed in the summer and fall schedules as hybrid or hyflex have been converted to completely in-person. Please be sure to double check the modality of your courses before classes begin. For courses that remain hybrid or hyflex, the instructor will communicate with students regarding the system for joining the course in-person versus remote. Please contact your instructor with all questions.
  • Pass (P) Grade Option: While the university operated in a primarily remote environment during the past year, it implemented a temporary expansion of the Pass (P) Grade Option for most degree programs, allowing students greater flexibility in electing either a Pass (P) grade or a letter grade. Now, as we return to primarily in-person instruction, the temporary expansion of the Pass (P) Grade Option is no longer available, effective summer 2021. USF has reverted to its usual undergraduate grade policy and graduate grade policy, which were in place prior to the COVID-19 pandemic. These policies allow students to enroll in specified courses on a “Pass-Fail” option basis.
  • Remote Classes from Campus: Students commuting to the Hilltop campus will have the ability to reserve space to take a remote course on campus when they have both in-person and remote classes on the same day. More information will be sent to students about this opportunity in a few weeks.

Staying Healthy Course Requirement

All students — with the exception of those enrolled in fully online programs — are required to complete a COVID-19 "Staying Healthy" EVERFI educational course. The course provides information about COVID-19, including strategies to protect yourself and others and help make our community as safe as possible. Students who are registered for the fall semester will receive an invitation from EVERFI to take the course.

The deadline to complete this course is Aug. 24. Students who are unable to complete the course by the deadline will be charged a $100 late fee. The fee will be removed from a student’s account upon completion of the course.

For more information on the course, please visit the Health Promotion Services COVID-19 webpage or contact hps@usfca.edu.


COVID-19 Vaccine Requirement

As announced in May, USF will require all undergraduate and graduate students, as well as all faculty and staff, to be fully vaccinated for COVID-19 for fall 2021. The requirement will go into effect at the start of the fall semester on Aug. 24 (and earlier for law students, who begin orientation and classes prior to Aug. 24). If you have received one or both doses of the COVID-19 vaccine, please submit the proof of vaccination through Med+Proctor. Thank you to all of our students who have already uploaded their information.

With proper documentation, USF will accept medical exemptions and religious and/or personal beliefs exemptions to the COVID-19 vaccine requirement. Medical exemption requires a letter from a health care provider stating that the vaccination is medically contraindicated. Proof of medical exemption can be submitted directly to Med+Proctor. Religious and/or personal beliefs exemptions will only be accepted for the COVID-19 vaccine (and not other USF-required immunizations). International students can reference the ISSS COVID-19 FAQ Health and Wellness page for current information on international vaccine and quarantine requirements. Exemptions can be submitted to USF Health Promotion Services using this form. Questions can be directed to hps@usfca.edu.

Please note: Degree completion for School of Nursing and Health Professions (SONHP) students may be slowed or stopped if they are unable and/or unwilling to be vaccinated, given the requirements of our clinical partners.

Quarantine Expectations

Unvaccinated students, students who are not fully vaccinated, and students who received a vaccine that is not listed by the World Health Organization who are arriving from outside of California, must complete a 10-day quarantine before they can come to campus. Off-campus students must quarantine off-campus. Residential students will receive additional information about the on-campus arrival quarantine plan.

Symptom Monitoring

All students, as well as faculty and staff and other community members, must complete symptom monitoring using the Dons Health Check daily when they are on campus or plan to come to campus. All members of the USF community must avoid coming to campus if they do not feel well.

Visitors to Campus

Visitors will be allowed on campus as they were pre-pandemic, including in the residence halls. 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. Visitors must wear face coverings if they are unvaccinated. Residential students will receive additional information.

Additional Guidelines

Students in specific programs may have additional guidelines in place (e.g. SONHP due to required clinical learning experiences; School of Law due to differing academic calendars and policies). If that is the case, students will receive that information directly from their school or program.

While we are pleased to be able to plan for the fall semester with relaxed COVID restrictions, we acknowledge that other nations and some U.S. states are still actively battling COVID-19 and we are still in a public health situation. USF will continue to follow state and local public health guidelines, and we will prioritize our students’ academic and campus experiences. We will update you if anything changes.

Thank you for your attention to these important updates. We look forward to seeing you at USF soon!


Tyrone H. Cannon, Interim Provost and Vice President, Academic Affairs
Julie Orio, Vice President, Student Life