COVID-19 FAQ for USC Viterbi Researchers

Last updated: July 16, 2021 8:52am

Find other FAQ and related info pages on our COVID-19 Response 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 5.  Phase 5 means that most restrictions have been lifted and that full operations of research can take place. 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:  Please check with your PhD advisor.

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


If you are vaccinated

• Effective immediately, masks will no longer be required for anyone who is fully vaccinated and whose vaccination record has been submitted to the MySHR system. This brings USC into alignment with workplace guidance from the California Division of Occupational Safety and Health.*

• Masks still need to be worn on public transit, in healthcare settings, and other environments outlined by the California Department of Public Health. This includes all USC shuttle buses and Keck Medicine of USC facilities.

• All employees and students accessing campus must continue daily symptom self-checks on TrojanCheck.

*In alignment with the LA County Department of Public Health Public Health Officer Order announced July 15th, USC is now requiring masking indoors for all individuals in campus facilities, including vaccinated and unvaccinated individuals, to protect yourself and others from transmission.

If you are not vaccinated

• You must continue to wear masks indoors on all USC campuses.

• Exceptions include when you are alone in a private office with the door closed or while eating or drinking (6-foot social distancing must be maintained while unmasked).

• Faculty, staff, and students who are unvaccinated will be required to continue regular testing (once per week for faculty, staff, and graduate students, and twice per week for undergraduates) and daily symptom self-checks on TrojanCheck when accessing campus.

• You may be unable to participate in some activities and events that require fully vaccinated status for attendance.  Compliance is required by July 15.

• Compliance with the university’s COVID-19 vaccine policy is mandatory, and you are required to update your vaccination status in MySHR by July 15.

• You should also know that, after August 1, we will only accept vaccination exemptions for recognized and approved medical or religious reasons. If you plan to seek such an exemption, please fill out the appropriate religious or medical exemption form and submit it to MySHR. Please allow 14 days for your request to be reviewed.
As previously noted, HR partners will monitor compliance and work with unit leadership to reach out to those who do not update their records by the deadline. If your vaccination status is unknown, you will be categorized as unvaccinated and must adhere to all requirements for unvaccinated individuals.

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

•  Adhere to the University guidelines (refer to the answer listed above).

• 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.

•  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.

Q: Will parking continue to be free for researchers?

A: New parking permits will be required for ALL campus constituents effective July 1, 2021. University parking will also begin charging for permits again on that date.  Please refer to the USC Parking page here for additional information.

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

A: Researchers working on campus must comply with COVID testing policy. Participation in the university’s surveillance testing program is required for unvaccinated individuals. Fully vaccinated faculty and staff are not required to test weekly. 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 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 (

Published on June 8th, 2020

Last updated on September 15th, 2021