COVID-19 FAQ for USC Viterbi Researchers

Last updated: April 15, 2021 2:25pm

Find other FAQ and related info pages on our COVID-19 Response Page

Link to USC Research Restart FAQ page

Link to USC COVID-19 Research Continuity Guidelines and Resources

Additional FAQS:

Q: Where is Viterbi currently at in terms of reopening research?

A: Viterbi is following university guidelines which requires a phased reopening of research.  As part of this, we are currently at phase 3 while continuing to adhere to physical distancing, PPE, and testing guidelines.   Community and field‐based research is now allowed if it goes through approval. Researchers are still urged to go to campus only for necessary work and continue to do work remotely when possible. Details of all the planned phases can be found here.

Q: How do I know that I am supposed to return to on-campus research?

A:  While campus is reopening, not all labs are returning to on-campus research.  This is a lab (or group) specific question. Please check with your PhD advisor.

Q: What steps do I need to take to get back to on-campus research? 

A:  Once you and your PhD advisor have agreed that you will be returning to campus in Phase 3, you have:

1. Complete the mandatory Health, Hygiene and Safety Training course offered on Trojanlearn.  The appropriate module for PhD students is Health, Hygiene and Safety for Research Students.  For post-docs, research staff and faculty, the appropriate module is Health, Hygiene and Safety for Research Employees.

2.  Use the Trojan Check Web App each time you want to visit the campus.  This page provides resources for both of these steps.  Technical issues with TrojanCheck itself – including accidental or incorrect submissions – should be directed to the ITS Service Desk @ (213) 740-5555 or

3.  Upload your COVID 19 Vaccination documents if you have been vaccinated

4.  Required COVID-19 testing

5.  Completion of symptom check systems (Trojan Check), and

6.  Compliance with student conduct expectations and policies

7.  When you are on campus, follow the guidelines described in the Health, Hygiene and Safety Training module, and the ones listed below (in response to the next question).

Q: What safety measures are necessary for on-campus research?

A:  The University is also taking steps to maximize the health and safety of our campus communities for the time when we are able to increase campus density.  The university is still adhering to physical distancing guidelines when in public, requesting stay at home orders for vulnerable populations, requiring PPE and face masks, as well as continuing to limit non-essential visitors or volunteers from accessing campus. As noted, in the Trojanlearn module researchers are still required to:

  • Adhere to physical distancing (6 feet required), and PPE guidelines (face masks all the time).
  • Adhere to the University guidelines on check-in/out and symptom reporting.
  • Stay at home if you are exposed to a sick family member or housemate.
  • Disinfect frequently touched objects and surfaces in your labs such as workstations, keyboards, handrails, doorknobs, counters, tables, and other equipment, and appliances.
  • Adhere  to University signage.
  • Know who the  COVID-19 coordinator for your lab is.
  • Know and follow your lab schedule.
  • Check on the adequate supply of hand sanitizers, disinfecting solution, disposable tissues and no-touch disposal containers in your lab. Contact Gloria Wan, Viterbi Facilities, ( /(213) 740‑4175)) in case more supplies are needed.
  • Check on the adequate supply of PPEs. Contact Gloria Wan, Viterbi Facilities, ( /(213) 740‑4175)) in case more supplied are needed.
  • Know what your workspace is and do not enter the workspace of others.
  • Follow etiquette standards in restrooms and common interaction areas (e.g., one person per standard restroom or elevator at any one time).
  • Minimize eating and drinking on campus (consider consuming these outside).

Q: What if I am in the “high risk” category for COVID-19, or live with a family member in this category? What should I do?

A: CDC has defined high-risk categories for COVID-19 (

If you belong to these categories, or live with a family member who does, contact your PhD advisor or Andy Chen, the Director of Doctoral Programs (, to plan how you can continue to work without coming to campus. Remember, you do not have to disclose which high risk  category you belong to; rather just say that you belong to one.

Q: I am not in the “high risk” category for COVID-19, but do not feel comfortable about coming back to campus. What should I do?

A: You are encouraged to have a discussion with your PhD advisor. Alternatively, you may contact Andy Chen, the Director of Doctoral Programs ( The department, school and University will work with you to come up with a solution.

Q: Will parking continue to be free for researchers?

A: Parking will continue to be free until the end of the Spring semester.  USC transportation is working on tier level parking passes and more details will be announced


Q: Is COVID-19 testing required and are they available on campus?

A: Yes, beginning January 15th, 2021, Graduate and professional students, faculty, and staff who come onto our campuses will be required to test once weekly. These required tests will be provided by the University at no cost to our current students, faculty and staff. You can find detailed information about the tests at:

Q: I have been tested positive for COVID-19, do I have to report to someone at USC?

A: Yes. Please contact USC COVID-19 hotline at 213-740-6291 or They will ask you about your USC related activities so that they can initiate contact-tracing.

Q: What happens if someone in my lab has tested positive for Covid-19?

A: The lab will be asked to close temporarily until it is determined safe to return.  The university will use contact tracing and contact all individuals who could have come in touch with the infected individual. These individuals will be given instructions on what to do. This will include things like self-isolating and getting tested.

Q: Will the school provide us the required Personal Protective Equipment (PPE)?

A: Yes. PPEs will be delivered to your research group by your department.  Please reach out to your department contact (see table below) or your advisor.

Department Contact(s)

AME: Jorge Castilla

ASTE: Marlyn Lat

BME: Karen Johnson

CEE: Jake Kirchner or Jeleel Osunkunle

CS: Steve Schrader

ECE-EEP: Kim Reid

ECE-EES: Ted Low

ISE: Shelly Lewis or Roxanna Carter

MFD: Monina Letargo

CNI: John Curulli

Q: Will there be checks to make sure that researchers are adhering to COVID-19 safety protocols?

A:Yes. Every building where research is going on has been assigned a covid-19 building monitor who will make random visits to the building and labs and will ensure compliance. If labs are found to be non-compliant this will be reported to the Dean’s office, EHS and the other University officials.

Also, in case you observe someone not adhering to guidelines please report to your PhD advisor. If you prefer to remain anonymous, you may report their concern by calling the USC Help and Hotline at (213) 740-2500 or (800) 348-7454; or by filing a report over the web (

Q: Is COVID-19 related healthcare covered by health insurance?

A: Please check the USC Covid Health Insurance FAQ for information related to health care coverage for students.

Q: Has there been any updates in regards to RA/TAs being able to work remotely abroad?

A:Unfortunately, USC still cannot pay GRAs or TAs stipends to students who are abroad.  Students who are thinking of traveling internationally should keep this in mind and seek guidance from our VASE staff at


For any additional questions, please contact Andy Chen, the Director of Doctoral Programs (