Fall 2020: Covid-19 Testing Strategy and Health Protocols

A Message from Dr. Sarah Van Orman, Chief Health Officer, USC Student Health (7/27/20):

As we prepare to begin the Fall Semester, we wanted to share our COVID-19 testing strategy and other established health protocols for students who plan to return to campus. As the Provost indicated earlier this month, we are recommending all undergraduates take their courses online and reconsider living on or close to campus this semester. We are, however, planning to continue with limited in-person campus activity unless the upcoming guidance we are awaiting from the Governor prohibits it. We will update you as soon as we have more details.

Over the past few months, the university has developed comprehensive Covid-19 campus public health measures including daily wellness screening, testing, contact tracing, and procedures for isolating individuals who are ill and exposed. These measures were developed from all available scientific evidence and are fully compliant with guidelines from the Los Angeles Department of Public Health. USC will continually update its recommendations as needed based on emerging evidence and changing public health conditions.

Students are expected to comply with all required health measures.

Initial Covid-19 Student Test: Students permitted to live in USC Housing or who have an in-person class must present documentation of a COVID-19 test performed within 7 days before their first day on campus. Details on uploading documentation and information about on campus options for this Initial Covid-19 test will be posted to a Covid-19 testing instructions page (https://studenthealth.usc.edu/covid19-testing) on the USC Student Health website.

Ongoing Testing Protocols: USC has made arrangements to ensure appropriate and timely access to testing for all members of the USC community:

  • Immediate testing is available for any on-site employee or student who develops symptoms consistent with COVID-19 or who are exposed to COVID-19.
  • Aggressive testing of asymptomatic individuals in higher risk populations will continue throughout the fall semester based on public health guidelines and the emergence of cases. Our targeted efforts are designed for early identification and control of cases and outbreaks. This surveillance testing will include students living in USC Housing; notifications to schedule testing will be sent by email—students must check university email accounts for important USC information every day.
  • For students living in USC Housing, USC will provide isolation accommodations for students who test positive for COVID-19 and quarantine accommodations who are exposed to COVID-19. We also will offer space to those students living off-campus who cannot isolate and/or quarantine safely in their living situation.
  • Everyone is expected to follow health provider and LA Department of Public Health instructions for isolation and/or quarantine, and to provide information needed by contact tracing teams in order to limit spread of illness.
  • Health Care: USC Student Health will continue to provide both telehealth care, and in-person clinical care when required, including access to testing for COVID-19.
  • Daily symptom check: Verification of wellness through trojancheck.usc.edu, must be completed each day by all students living in USC housing and by those who live elsewhere and plan to access campus. Temperature screening is also required at selected campus locations.
  • Behavioral expectations: All students must wear face coverings, maintain 6 ft. physical distance from others, avoid gatherings, adhere to the “no guests” policy in university housing, and follow all university policies as instructed. These will be strictly enforced. Violators may lose access to campus and are subject to student disciplinary action.
  • Completion of “Hygiene, Health and Safety for Students”: This course is located in trojanlearn.usc.edu and must be completed before arrival on campus.
  • Influenza Vaccination: Seasonal influenza vaccination is strongly recommended. Vaccines will be available on campus in late September.
  • Immunization requirements: All requirements must be completed as stated, on schedule.*

* Students currently outside of California,or outside of the United States, are eligible for deadline postponements, modified fees, and insurance exemptions.

This fall, we must be driven by decisions based on science for the safety of our friends, colleagues and families.  Our self-discipline in adhering to safety measures will give us the quickest route to return to the full in-person community where we can all thrive together. As always, thank you for your patience as we continue to navigate this ongoing pandemic.

Stay safe and well.


Information for students and families weighing the risks of coming to campus are strongly advised to consider the factors as outlined in our COVID-19 informational video recording.

Visit coronavirus.usc.edu for current information; send questions to covid19@usc.edu. To notify the University about a positive case of COVID-19, call 213-740-6291. To arrange for testing due to exposure or symptoms, call USC Student Health at 213-740-9355 (WELL).