Update to COVID-19 Isolation Criteria and other Key Health Reminders (1/3/23)

The following message is for USC students, and was also shared with faculty, staff, and parents from

Sarah Van Orman, MD, MMM, FACHA; Chief Health Officer, USC Student Health; Division Chief for College Health, Keck School of Medicine of USC

David W. Wright, Senior Vice President for Administration

We are looking forward to seeing you all back for the spring semester and hope you have had a restful and happy winter break. As we prepare to greet one another in person again, please remember to take precautions regarding COVID-19 in our campus communities. 

Review the *NEW* information related to masking when returning to classes and work; travel from China (PRC, Hong Kong, Macau) and isolation criteria for students.

Los Angeles County is at the medium community transmission level.

• Test before gathering with others. Antigen kits for home use are available at the CSC desks in USC Housing, and at the Jefferson Lot and Pappas Quad Pop Testing (PCR test) sites.

• Mask in indoor spaces and in very crowded outdoor spaces. *NEW* RECOMMENDATION: The Los Angeles Dept. of Public Health is recommending that students returning to classes and employees returning to work should mask around others for 10 days when returning to classes and work.

• Stay home if you are sick. If you are experiencing symptoms, stay home, do not go to class, practices, or work, and arrange to test. If you test positive, complete the contact tracing form in these instructions. You must notify us if you test positive and have been on campus; using the contact tracing form in MySHR is the fastest way to relay the complete information that is needed. The instructions for USC students living in university-operated housing to request isolation accommodations are also contained in the form. Questions related to COVID-19 processes may be directed to covid19@usc.edu; 213-740-6291.

We strongly recommend wearing medical-grade masks or respirator masks (including surgical, N95, KN95, KF94) when indoors around others to reduce transmission and risk of infection. Masking is most effective when there is both a good fit (no gaps, covering the nose, mouth, chin) and good filtration. 

Wash your hands or use hand sanitizer to prevent transmission of illness; cover your cough or sneeze.


All students, faculty and staff are advised to test (1-2 days) prior to traveling to campus. You may use an antigen test (home kit) if that is most easily accessible resource for you. 

*NEW* CDC REQUIREMENT: For international students with travel originating from China (PRC), Hong Kong, and Macau, the CDC has announced a requirement for all air passengers with travel originating from these locations to have a negative COVID-19 test within 48 hours prior to departure. This requirement takes effect on January 5, 2023.


*NEW* CRITERIA FOR ISOLATION SPACE: For the spring semester, the university is updating its COVID-19 isolation processes.

  1. Students in university operated, communal-style on-campus housing (Birnkrant, Marks, New North, Pardee) are required to isolate at university-provided isolation locations if they are positive for COVID-19. Instructions for requesting isolation accommodations are contained in the MySHR contact tracing form in these instructions.
  2. Students in university operated, suite- or apartment-style university housing may request university-provided isolation. Instructions for requesting isolation accommodations are contained in the MySHR contact tracing form in these instructions.
  3. Students in off-campus, non-university housing (private leasing) are not provided university isolation accommodations.

Roommates and suitemates of positive individuals do not meet the criteria for isolation space. Students with high-risk medical conditions who have questions about potential COVID-19 exposure or infection in a roommate or housemate can contact USC Student Health using the Advice Nurse message option in MySHR. Student Health is also available by phone at 213-740-9355 (WELL).

Additional details may be found at coronavirus.usc.edu/health-safety-faqs. Questions related to COVID-19 processes may be directed to covid19@usc.edu; 213-740-6291.


For all individuals, it is strongly recommended that you have received the updated bivalent booster and seasonal flu vaccineThe new bivalent booster can protect against both the original virus that causes COVID-19 and Omicron BA.4 and BA.5 subvariants. The bivalent booster is also expected to provide protection against the newer BQ strains, which are subvariants of BA.5. Arrange to get your booster prior to coming to campus. If you cannot arrange a booster prior to arrival, please go to the USC Pharmacies (at UPC, vaccinations are now in King Hall) or visit other local retail pharmacies to receive your vaccine when you arrive for the spring semester.

Previously positive for COVID? Do not test for COVID-19 with a PCR test (including Pop Testing) if you have had COVID-19 within the past 90 days. You may use an antigen test if you have a new onset of symptoms to confirm a positive status. 


New to USC? If you are a new student starting your first term this spring semester, please follow all the instructions for completing health requirements, including required immunizations. The deadline to complete immunizations, and to make decisions about your student health insurance plan (including submitting a request for a waiver if you have a plan that meets the minimum requirements) is January 27, 2023. Students continuing from the fall do not need to re-waive for spring, you can submit your waiver annually each fall.

With the turning of winter to spring, comes anticipation of renewal. We look forward to all this semester will bring—fresh starts, new challenges that will guide our growth, and progress toward graduation. 

Welcome to Spring 2023, and Fight On!