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Fall Plan 2021

UC San Diego’s Fall Quarter began on Sept. 20. The majority of courses are being conducted in-person within indoor and outdoor classrooms.

Positive case rates on campus have remained consistently low compared to regional and national case rates. As a result, UC San Diego has been able to increase the number of students on campus.

University operations and safety guidelines are informed by daily data analysis of COVID-19 trends on- and off-campus. Multiple layers of defense are in place to promote health and wellness, in alignment with public health guidelines.

Campus Safety

Daily Screening

All UC San Diego employees and students who are coming to campus or any other physical UC San Diego location must complete and submit a daily self-screening for COVID-19 before arrival. Learn more on the Testing and Screening page.

Daily Symptom and Exposure Screening

All UC San Diego employees and students who are reporting to campus or any other physical UC San Diego location must conduct a daily self-screening for COVID-19 before arrival. You will receive a colored thumb after you complete the screening to signify if you are cleared to work and attend class on-campus, or if quarantine or testing is needed. Our notification system is currently being adjusted; below is a sample of what you will soon see.

Green Thumb icon
  • Allowed on campus
  • Follow campus safety guidelines
Yellow Thumb icon
  • Allowed on campus
  • Must mask outdoors
  • Must eat alone
  • Follow campus safety guidelines
Red Thumb icon
  • Not allowed on campus

Mask Policy

Indoor: everyone must mask

  • Regardless of vaccination status, all students, faculty and staff must wear a mask or face covering at all indoor locations at UC San Diego.
  • Masks may be removed if you are alone in an enclosed office with a closed door; you may also eat or drink in this enclosed setting (so long as you have not been exposed).

Outdoor: masking highly encouraged

  • All students, faculty and staff are encouraged, but not required, to wear masks outdoors while on campus. However, vaccinated students and campus employees who have been exposed to the SARS-CoV-2 virus are required to mask outdoors.
  • Attendees at outdoor campus events must wear a face mask if required by the event organizer.

Types of masks

The campus recommends the use of N-95 and KN-95 masks.

A face covering/face mask DOES NOT include a scarf, ski mask, balaclava, bandana, gaiter, turtleneck, collar, plastic face shield or single layer of fabric.

Read the full masking policy online.

Learn more about masking on the Campus Safety page.

Vaccination Requirement

All UC San Diego students, staff and faculty members must be fully vaccinated (two weeks after final dose), per University of California policy. Individuals are required to show proof of vaccination or have a medical exemption, a religious exception, a disability exception or a deferral. Requests for exceptions or deferral should be submitted as soon as possible to avoid the risk of non-compliance with the policy.

Free vaccinations are available for all students, faculty and staff at the Price Center Vaccination Clinic by appointment.

COVID-19 Testing Requirements

On-site students who are fully vaccinated: asymptomatic testing as needed. Students must test if they become symptomatic or if their residential building has a positive wastewater signal.

On-site students who are not fully vaccinated: ongoing twice-weekly testing required; students should also test if they become symptomatic or if their residential building has a positive wastewater signal.

Remote students who are not fully vaccinated: asymptomatic testing as needed. If coming to campus for any reason, required to test within 72 hours of arrival and on the day of arrival.

On-site and remote employees who are fully vaccinated: asymptomatic testing as needed; you must test if you become symptomatic or have used restroom facilities in a building with a positive wastewater signal

On-site employees who are not fully vaccinated: ongoing twice-weekly testing required.

Remote employees who are not fully vaccinated: weekly testing recommended. If coming to campus for any reason, required to test within 72 hours of arrival and on the day of arrival.

Testing Options

  • Self-administered test kits from 20 campus vending machines (no appointment needed)
  • Provider-observed, self-administered testing at Price Center (appointment needed)
  • Provider-administered testing via drive thru (appointment needed)

View all testing options and make an appointment.

Fall Instruction

Fall 2021 teaching is being held primarily in-person with normal classroom occupancy, with all individuals following the campus’ masking policy. Additional information for instructors on details about fall instruction can be found on the Academic Personnel Services COVID-19 Academic Affairs FAQs and Resources page.

Academic spaces have reopened for the fall quarter. These include libraries, the Teaching + Learning Commons, computer labs and other spaces.

Outdoor classrooms remain in use for classes with priority given to classes in which participants cannot be masked (e.g., language classes, certain theatre and music classes). 

We understand that some students may be unable to join us from abroad due to visa or travel restrictions. Remote instances of key gateway courses are available for these students. For those who need to make adjustments to their academic plans, academic advisors are available to help.

Students seeking health and/or ADA accommodations unrelated to the COVID-19 vaccination mandate may contact the Office for Students with Disabilities. Employees seeking health and/or ADA accommodations unrelated to the COVID-19 vaccination mandate should contact the Disability Counseling and Consulting division of Human Resources.

Learn more on the Academics page.

The Importance of a Pandemic-Resilient Syllabus:

We encourage instructors to design their courses with pandemic resilience in mind. UC San Diego continues to follow the pandemic data very closely and will do everything possible to help ensure that instruction is as safe as possible. This means that if conditions change and in-person instruction is no longer deemed as safe as it could be by public health officials, we will pivot immediately to remote teaching, as we did last year. Thus, having a flexible syllabus that can allow instructors to pivot quickly will save a lot of last-minute activity should the shift need to be made. The Teaching + Learning Commons is available as a resource to help explore further ways to flexibly structure your class.

Learn more about how to design a flexible syllabus.

See FAQs on Fall 2021 Instruction.

Student Housing

  • On-campus housing communities and dining facilities will remain open with enhanced precautionary measures to help protect the health and well-being of students, faculty and staff.
  • Triple-occupancy housing options have been eliminated to reduce housing density. We will have all undergraduate students living in doubles and singles for the fall quarter.
  • After move-in all students who reside on campus will be expected to participate in daily symptom and exposure screening. Unvaccinated students must complete ongoing COVID-19 testing twice a week, every 3-5 days. 
  • In the event a student living in on-campus housing tests positive at any time during the academic year, they will be moved to designated isolation housing, where basic needs will be met and food will be delivered to the unit. They will also receive care from Student Health Services. Graduate students living with family members may be able to isolate in their residence, if approved by Student Health Services.
  • If public health considerations cause the university to request students to vacate on-campus housing, students will not be charged for the unused portion of their housing and dining contracts.
  • All residential students, regardless of vaccination status, are required to test if there is a positive wastewater signal in their building.

Current Undergraduate Housing Phase

Undergraduate residential students are currently in Phase 2, which means students are no longer required to wear face coverings in their own residential unit (apartments or suites). This is an effort to create a living situation that resembles a “household.”

Please note:

Returning from Fall Break

After the fall break (Nov. 25-28), undergraduate housing will return to Phase 1, and all students must resume wearing face masks within their residential unit except within personal bedrooms or in the shower. In addition, all students, regardless of vaccination status, will need to test on arrival and on day 5. Tests can be completed using vending machine test kits.

Residents in Graduate and Family Housing who leave for fall or winter break must complete a SARS-CoV-2 test within 24 hours of their arrival on campus and again on days 5 as well as daily symptom monitoring. The goal is to identify and isolate any asymptomatic individuals who could unintentionally spread the virus. If you share a living space with someone who is not a family member you should also mask inside your apartment except for personal bedroom and shower until 7 days after returning and a day 5 test is negative.

Learn more on the HDH COVID-19 FAQ page.

Housing Details

  • For campus residents, all residence halls (suites) and apartment occupancy will be limited to one or two students per room. Visitors to residential units are not allowed, with the exception of care providers in graduate housing.
  • Single graduate students will also be housed in single bedrooms unless they have requested double occupancy.
  • All undergraduate residential common areas will be cleaned using a cleaning system that pairs an electrostatic sprayer with disinfectants and sanitizers.
  • All students who reside on campus will be required to participate in daily symptom and exposure screening. Students will need to register once before completing the daily student self-screening.
  • If public health considerations cause the university to request students to vacate on-campus housing, students will not be charged for the unused portion of their housing and dining contracts.

Housing Safety Rules

Students who live in UC San Diego-provided housing must comply with mandatory COVID-19 testing, daily symptom screening, and masking guidance; isolate if they receive a positive COVID-19 test result; follow quarantine guidance if they are exposed to COVID-19; as well as sequester if they are unvaccinated and participate in off-campus unmasked activities. Visit the UC San Diego Student Housing Safety Rules webpage for more information.

Isolation Housing and Quarantine

  • In the event a student living in on-campus housing tests positive for COVID-19 at any time during the academic year, they will be moved to designated off-campus isolation housing, where Student Health Services will provide care and ensure basic needs such as food delivery are met. Graduate students may choose to isolate themselves in their apartment with their family with consultation and approval from Student Health Services. Housing updates are available online.
  • Isolation housing is available for undergraduate and graduate students. Students will not be charged for isolation housing.
  • Meals (hot, cold and microwaveable) will be delivered to isolation housing once a day, charged to students’ dining meal plan or billed to their housing account.
  • Vaccinated students who are exposed to someone with COVID-19 will be required to quarantine for 7 days and test 3-5 days after exposure. They should wear a mask indoors, in residential common areas and in outdoor settings. They are able to attend class wearing a mask.
  • Unvaccinated students who are exposed to someone with COVID-19 will be required to quarantine for 7 days after exposure. Those who live on campus will be relocated to quarantine/isolation housing; those off-campus will remain at their residence with the option to move into isolation/quarantine housing.
    • All students who have been exposed must test 3 to 5 days after exposure and are not allowed to attend class or move about on campus.

Students can learn more on the Housing, Dining, Hospitality FAQ page.

Campus Dining

  • Campus eateries are open for indoor dining. There are no longer capacity limits.
  • Guests are required to wear masks.
  • Eating and drinking should be done outdoors or when enclosed in a private office, so long as you haven't been exposed.
  • Dining Services offers a mobile ordering platform, Triton2Go, where campus community members can place their orders in advance to help limit crowds and wait time.
  • Hand sanitizer dispensers are placed at the entrance of all dining facilities and markets.
  • All payments have moved to cashless transactions and near-field communication card readers for reduced contact at point of sale for students and employees.

Employees

Campus Staff Employees

In making plans for returning to on-site work, leaders and supervisors of campus staff employees should focus on supporting fall operations, while maintaining a reduced population on campus whenever appropriate.

Timelines for returning to on-site work, whether fully or as part of a hybrid work arrangement, are predicated upon UC San Diego’s mission as an organization and your unit's role in supporting that mission. Decisions regarding staff work modalities are made at the local or department levels in line with guidance from their vice chancellor.

If you have questions about your unit’s plans for returning to on-site work, contact the Return to Campus Support Desk at hr@ucsd.edu or 858-246-3570.

  • Required training for returning to on-site work: If you are working on site, whether fully or as part of a hybrid work schedule, you must complete COVID-19 prevention training, as required by the California Department of Public Health (CDPH) and Cal/OSHA. Please review details about this new training requirement on Blink, as you may need to take a COVID-19 Prevention course or a supplemental course.
  • Keep your work location status up to date: Update your information in the Work Location Status tool any time your work arrangement, including your work location and schedule, changes.

Resources for Employees, Managers and Supervisors

Learn more about Returning to On-Site Work, including:

Faculty and Researchers

Research groups no longer need to observe density restrictions limiting on-site personnel (such as the 50% cap previously in effect). All personnel must follow campus safety guidelines, including wearing a mask and completing the daily symptom screener. Faculty and PIs can learn more details about returning to campus on the Research Ramp-up website.

All on-site research activity requires an up-to-date research ramp-up plan, which will be reviewed by department chairs, deans, Environmental Health and Safety, and Research Affairs. If you already have an approved plan, do not submit a new plan; instead, send edits to researchrampup@ucsd.edu. If you are working alone in your office or in ensemble performing arts, you do not need a research ramp-up plan, but you do need to complete a Work Location Status form. Read more about on-site performing arts guidelines on the Research Ramp-up website.

Indoor business and lab meetings are permitted. Everyone must wear a mask for the duration of the meeting. No attendee is required to provide proof of vaccination status. Organizers should provide a remote meeting attendance option when hosting an in-person meeting.

Administrative staff who have been successfully working off-site should work with their supervisors about when/how they will return to on-site work; their return should be planned in accordance with the university’s Return to Campus process.

Plan Updates

Due to the dynamic public health situation, UC San Diego will remain flexible. As has been the case since the beginning of this unprecedented challenge, the University’s plans may change as the pandemic evolves and government and public health authorities respond. While the California reopening plan is executed and assessed at each phase, UC San Diego will notify campus community members of any changes to their learning and work situations as appropriate. In all decisions, the health and safety of students, employees and local communities will be paramount.