Fall 2021 Campus Reopening FAQ

To open safely this fall, USF is building upon current COVID-19 testing procedures, contact tracing protocols, and safety measures, including face coverings, physical distancing, hygiene practices, and vaccinations to name a few. Classes, residence halls, and dining facilities have been set up to best protect students, faculty, and staff using the above guidelines. This includes lowering the capacity of many of our classrooms and eliminating triples in our on-campus housing. While we cannot predict with certainty what USF will look like in the months ahead, we have made informed plans, are in regular communication with public health officials and other experts, and are prepared to adjust our plans and procedures as necessary based on the course of the pandemic and the availability of COVID-19 vaccines.

Yes. We are planning for fall using the current guidelines for in-person instructional delivery provided to schools by the San Francisco Department of Public Health (SFDPH). This approach to planning for fall in-person instruction, including continuing to follow current guidance on safety measures (physical distancing, face coverings, etc.), has been vetted by and is supported by SFDPH.

We have several tools that will help us remain safe and healthy while resuming the in-person campus experience. Classrooms have been reconfigured to meet physical distancing requirements and capacities for the rooms have been adjusted in our course scheduling systems. An expanded schedule has been created for fall 2021 to allow courses that would normally meet during congested times to meet earlier in the morning, later in the evenings, or on Saturdays. The temporary change to the schedule will allow us to both reduce foot traffic that would impact offices and provide more options for identifying space for in-person courses. Campus services necessary to meet this expanded schedule will also make key adjustments.

We have also invested in new hyflex (hybrid-flexible) classrooms, portable equipment, and faculty training initiatives. We will be able to accommodate cohort models in which different groups of students join classes in-person on specific days, while participating remotely (either synchronously or asynchronously) on other days. Several non-academic spaces have been converted to classrooms and we are also studying the possibility of conducting classes outside. Deans will be able to make adjustments to course modalities for pandemic-related reasons during the transitional fall 2021 semester. Finally, faculty, librarians, and staff who are unable to teach and work in-person for documented medical reasons will be able to request an accommodation through the Office of Human Resources.


Possibly. If the situation with COVID-19, including vaccines, changes, or if public health guidance requires a change to our fall plans, we will quickly adjust. We are committed to communicating our plans as early as possible to all members of our community. While we cannot predict with certainty what USF will look like in the months ahead, we have made informed plans, are in regular communication with public health officials and other experts, and are prepared to adjust our plans as necessary based on the course of the pandemic and the availability of COVID-19 vaccines. 


Deans are working with their faculty on options for students who must continue online, including offering remote sections of courses and the ability to join an in-person class remotely, also known as “hyflex” technology. 

Students: USF is considering current local and state vaccine restrictions, limitations, and the available guidance for traditionally aged college students. We are also monitoring vaccination availability for students. More information will be forthcoming.

Employees: At this point in time, the university does not plan to require its employees to be vaccinated for COVID-19. USF strongly encourages all who are able to get a vaccine to do so.

Regarding both employees and students: We will continue to consult with experts about mandating the vaccine and will share additional information in the coming months. Please also note that USF will follow all legal exemption requirements.


USF is targeting regular double occupancy in residence halls for academic year 2021–22. Triples will not be an option at this time to help ensure safety and maintain health and safety protocols, as outlined by the city and county public health officials.

There will be scheduled periodic testing of students, especially those living on-campus. In addition to testing, USF will rely upon students’ self-monitoring of symptoms to limit the transmission of the virus. Students will self-monitor and report the presence or absence of symptoms of COVID-19 every day, beginning on the first day of return to campus. Students will self-report symptoms through the Dons Health Check online survey. All students must remain at home or in a designated isolation space if they test positive for COVID-19. 

All students living in residence halls will be subject to mandatory testing at a schedule that has yet to be determined. The university is considering a number of options in regards to testing different segments of the USF community. All testing plans and protocols will comply with San Francisco Department of Public Health (SFDPH) guidance for institutions of higher education. Residential students who self-disclose symptoms will be sent an in-home test kit to take and be mailed by the university.


All students will need to follow current quarantine guidelines. Currently students coming from outside of the Bay Area are expected to quarantine for 10 days. This may change for Fall 2021. We will provide updates as they become available from public health authorities.


Despite the many steps USF is taking to prevent the transmission of the virus, the presence and transmission of COVID-19 on campus is likely, if not inevitable, during the ongoing pandemic. Therefore, the university has developed protocols for contact tracing, isolating people who contract COVID-19, and helping people who become exposed to COVID-19 to self-quarantine.

  • Students who are diagnosed with COVID-19 will be required to isolate. Students living on campus will isolate in a self-contained space designated by USF and students residing off campus will isolate off campus.
  • Students who are diagnosed with COVID-19 will be asked to provide information about other people with whom they have been in close contact during the time when they may have been infectious and able to transmit the virus.
  • Campus isolation or quarantine procedures will likely require students to move to a different residence for the isolation or quarantine period. USF will provide food meal drop off, and trash pickup, and health and wellness monitoring for students isolating or quarantining.