Dear Trojan Community,
As many of you know, Los Angeles County has issued a revised health order, removing the indoor masking requirement that has been in place since July 17, 2021.
The amended regulations recognize how far we have come following the Delta and Omicron surges. According to the CDC, the level of cases and hospitalizations now place Los Angeles in the “low risk of transmission” category. This is consistent with the decrease in positive testing results for our campus populations, which has declined to less than 1 percent for both students and employees.
This new health order, coupled with the reduced level of public health risk, makes it possible for us to lift some of the university’s COVID-19 restrictions sooner than originally planned. Coming two years after the pandemic first disrupted our operations, this is welcome news and a testament to how far we have come as a campus community.
Beginning March 7, masking will no longer be required indoors in most locations on USC campuses. This includes classes, labs, offices, libraries, recreational facilities, dining facilities, and athletic facilities.
Local, state, and federal guidance requires continued masking in health care facilities (including patient care buildings and testing sites) and on public transportation (including USC shuttles). Masking may also be required in certain circumstances, like in the event of an outbreak on campus.
Trojan Check and Perimeter Control
On our University Park Campus, perimeter controls and Trojan Check will remain in place for the time being. The perimeter controls allow us to verify vaccination status or a recent test result as required by the City of Los Angeles to access certain facilities on our campuses, including dining halls, fitness centers, and restaurants. We will continue to require you to complete your wellness check every day that you come to campus.
Continued Commitment to Safety
Although we are following the CDC and Los Angeles County Department of Public Health in removing masking as a requirement, we want to be clear that masks will continue to be welcome on campus for all those who wish to continue taking extra precautions. According to the County’s guidelines, although masking is no longer required indoors, it remains strongly recommended.
The use of an N95 mask, in particular, provides a high level of personal protection to those who are concerned about their personal risk or risk to those around them. N95 masks are available to any faculty, staff, or student upon request and at no cost.
In addition, testing remains free and available to all students, faculty, and staff. Mandatory testing for the following groups remains in place:
- Unvaccinated or not fully vaccinated students, staff, and faculty must be tested every 72 hours in accordance with public health guidelines.
- Students who are vaccinated but have not received their booster vaccine when eligible test twice per week.
- Staff and faculty who are vaccinated but have not received their booster vaccine when eligible must test once per week.
While the symptoms of the Omicron variant have typically been milder, students, faculty, and staff who tested positive this spring have, by and large, experienced some symptoms. Therefore, staying home while sick and testing whenever you experience new symptoms and after exposure remain important ways to prevent spread.
Finally, in announcing its intention to loosen indoor masking rules, the Los Angeles County Department of Public Health noted the increased availability of therapeutics as a new, important tool to mitigate the worst outcomes of COVID-19.
These tools, in combination with the fact that 96 percent of our campus community is now fully vaccinated, give us confidence that we can begin to move forward safely.
Risk Reduction for Spring Break
Students, faculty, and staff who may be traveling over the spring recess week should use the Pop Testing services on our campuses prior to travel or attending gatherings.
Additionally, all students are encouraged to pick up a take-home antigen testing kit with instructions before returning to classes from spring recess. All students must complete an antigen test 24 hours before returning to campus and follow up with Pop Testing three to five days after travel. Faculty and staff who have traveled during the spring break period should also test three to five days after travel and consider using an antigen test before returning to campus.
If you are traveling, please remember that masking is required on public transportation (including at transportation hubs and on airplanes, buses, and trains), and that hand hygiene remains strongly recommended as an ongoing infection prevention measure.
We deeply appreciate all the acts of community support that you have shown, and the consideration you have given for all who have labored these long two years to keep our campuses safe. While today’s announcement will be welcome news for many, we recognize that loosening restrictions may trigger anxieties for some members of our campus community. You have our deeply felt gratitude for continuing to show kindness toward one another as we begin this transition.
Stay safe and well,
Charles F. Zukoski, Provost and Senior Vice President for Academic Affairs
David Wright, Senior Vice President, Administration