We look forward to seeing our students back on our campuses. Although this beginning of 2022 coincides with a challenging phase of the COVID-19 pandemic, we are marshaling all our resources to make this a successful semester. Each of you — our students, faculty, and staff — has shown tremendous strength and resilience, and we are grateful to be part of a wonderful community rich in friendship and kindness. Given the distinct challenges of the Omicron variant, USC will add four additional days of remote learning, and we now plan to resume in-person instruction Monday, January 24. Our plan – similar to that of other universities in Southern California – is based on both the available resources and unique challenges here in Los Angeles.
Per these revised guidelines for workplaces, individuals on USC campus premises in locations where masking is required are now required to wear medical grade masks, which at minimum are surgical masks and may also include higher grade respirator masks (N95, KN95, or KF94). Campus premises where PPE is required include indoor common spaces, public areas, classrooms, libraries, offices, and laboratories (unless higher grade PPE is already specified). Faculty, staff, and students in clinical settings should follow guidance for health care settings as determined by the facility. If you are an employee who has been directed by USC Environmental Health and Safety to wear (and previously fit-tested for) a respirator mask as PPE for occupational safety, continue to wear this level of protection.
Peak access times for MySHR (to schedule testing) is expected to be highest on Monday, January 3 (and again on Monday, January 10 & Tuesday, January 18), from the morning through the afternoon. High access volume may result in system unavailability for some users. Accessing MySHR during the weekend, and evenings after 6 PM are recommended. If you have tested positive during Winter Break with results from outside of USC, please upload a photo or scan of the results into MySHR (in “upload documents”) and complete the contact tracing form. Uploading your positive result, or a photo of your home testing kit result, AND completing the contact tracing form will automatically exempt you from surveillance testing for 90 days once it is reviewed by our staff. This ensures your Trojan Check will permit you access to campus.
We hope you are enjoying a restorative Winter Break. As we prepare for the new year and the 2022 Spring semester, we are sharing some specific details regarding health and safety campus protocols around COVID-19. The University is requiring booster doses for all students, faculty, and staff. The recent emergence of the Omicron variant further emphasizes the importance of vaccination, boosters, and prevention efforts needed to protect against COVID-19. See previous important messages regarding test positivity in the surge operations message of Dec 23, 2021 and the Spring semester update of Dec. 24, 2021. Pre-travel: Students are required to test for COVID-19 prior to leaving their Winter Break location, it is recommended that you test 48 hours prior to leaving. Upload your results into MySHR. If you test positive, you should remain in your current location and isolate for ten (10) days; complete the contact tracing form in MySHR.
Current CDC data on COVID-19 has demonstrated that individuals who are unvaccinated have a six-times greater risk of illness than vaccinated counterparts; and have a 11-times greater risk of death. Within the USC community, unvaccinated individuals have a 2-4 times greater risk of infection. Unfortunately, since late October, positivity rates have increased each week in both LA County and in the campus populations.
Last week, (week 10 since move-in) there were 69 positive cases, (0.21% positivity rate among students, 0.62% among faculty and staff).
9/28—As we enter the influenza season, the University has renewed the decision to require influenza vaccines for all USC students, faculty, and staff for the 2021-2022 influenza season. The deadline for completion is November 1, 2021. As a reminder, please continue to use recommended hygiene practices: wash your hands, follow masking guidelines, and if you are sick, please stay home.
Recently, the FDA and CDC have also made key announcements on COVID-19 booster shots for the Pfizer (Comirnaty) COVID-19 vaccine. Information for USC students in our campus communities about both these vaccines is outlined in this message..
As of this week, USC Student Health is re-introducing nasal swab as a method for collecting samples for COVID-19 testing. Nasal swab appointments are available through MySHR (Monday-Friday until 3:30 PM) at Jefferson Lot and Pardee Marks locations. Please refer to the Pop Testing Hours and Locations page for updated information.
Thank you to our community — 27,000 tests were administered this past week, and there was less than 0.5% positivity among students — much lower than in the general population (3.52% is the current positivity rate for Los Angeles County). Your participation in our vaccine program, reaching above 91% for fully vaccinated among students, faculty, and staff, has also made the opening of the fall semester safer for everyone.
As you are preparing for the first week of the fall semester classes starting on August 23, please read the following reminders. FOR ALL STUDENTS: Your Trojan Check will require that you have completed a COVID-19 test within the past 7 days in order to enter campus.
Information about pre-arrival testing; post-arrival testing, Immuchella, and more for students coming to the USC campuses.
The university has launched a new version of our mandatory “Hygiene Health and Safety” training for students (HHS student edition, which includes information relevant to student employees) and for faculty and staff (HHS employee edition). Please take 10-15 minutes to complete this online module in Trojan Learn. Again, this is required for all students, faculty, and university staff. Beginning August 15, your Trojan Check compliance will require completion of this new course (even if you have previously taken an earlier version) in order to provide valid entry to campuses. Please complete this course before that date. Trojan Check is required every day you come to campus.