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Dear Santa Clara University Community, 

We write with an update on our plans for learning and living on campus beginning in January. Months into the pandemic, we miss seeing one another—the everyday interactions and chance encounters on campus—and we are eager to return to normalcy and our beautiful campus. Despite the challenges, our community’s resilience, hope-filled spirit, and care for each other have never been clearer as we finalize our plans for winter 2021.  

On October 14, Santa Clara County moved into a less-restrictive phase of California’s tiered COVID-19 blueprint for reopening—from red to orange. This is good news: in our state, county, and city, we are seeing progress in keeping COVID-19 outbreaks to levels that enable more options for gatherings, dining, and some in-person instruction. Thank you for being part of that progress and for your continued vigilance to keep our community safe. 

After consulting with CDC guidelines, state requirements, county authorities and our own COVID-19 public-health experts, we have determined that for the winter quarter (which begins January 4) we will offer a limited number of in-person undergraduate classes and limited-capacity on-campus housing for students—much like we initially had hoped to do for our fall term. One key factor to our decision is the availability and turnaround time for testing, which has improved significantly in recent months, allowing us to implement a robust testing program to contain the virus’ spread. Moreover, test positive rates and hospitalization rates are trending more favorably than in the summer. 

Information on academics, housing, testing, and tuition/fees follows. As plans are finalized in the coming days, we will provide details. 

Even as we move to welcome more of our students back to campus, we must be mindful of the possibility of a COVID-19 resurgence in the winter locally and across the country. That means: 

  • In-person classes will be optional. Any student or any professor may choose to teach or learn 100% online. 
  • If a significant outbreak occurs, we must all be prepared to quickly pivot to 100% online and a possible “lockdown” of the limited social activities planned on campus.
  • All COVID-19 health and safety protocols will continue to be strictly enforced, including careful and consistent on- and off- campus disease prevention (avoiding gatherings, using face coverings, reporting positive cases if tested elsewhere, practicing good hand hygiene, staying six feet apart). 

Tuition and Fees

To assist our students and their families with planning, and acknowledging the economic challenges facing so many, all tuition and fees will remain the same for winter quarter; that is, we will again delay the proposed tuition increase budgeted for the present academic year.  Those in on-campus housing, who will be assigned single-occupancy living spaces for safety reasons, will nonetheless be billed at the lower double-occupancy rate applicable to their residence hall. If you and your family have experienced financial hardship, please contact or (408) 551-1000 to explore relief funding.  

Academic Update 

Faculty members have been asked to provide a list of classes they intend to offer in a hybrid format in winter. At this time, we expect a limited number of classes to be offered in person or hybrid. More details will come in an email from the office of the provost after October 26, when CourseAvail opens and eCampus will be updated with detailed class schedule and modality information.

Graduate students will hear directly from their deans and programs by October 29.  

Extensive preparations are being made to prioritize our community’s health and safety when face-to-face classes resume. Buildings are being updated with signage to ensure distancing; all classrooms are outfitted with cleaning supplies; plexiglass dividers where appropriate; socially distanced seating; higher-grade air filtration systems in a growing number of buildings; and more. In addition, frequent cleaning and disinfection will be done particularly in facilities and buildings that will open up in January (more information will be forthcoming).

Academic Calendar

Before any in-person classes begin, students who will be living on campus need to undergo a testing regimen and isolation period of seven days (currently required by our county). To accommodate those requirements, upon return to campus, all classes will be taught online for the first two weeks of the quarter. The limited number of in-person classes will begin January 19. Spring Break remains on the calendar but all travel outside of the county is discouraged (more information will be forthcoming). 

On-Campus Housing 

Beginning in January, we will offer on-campus housing for up to approximately 1,500 undergraduate students. To promote a safer residential environment, we will implement single-occupancy housing accommodations in residence halls and University Villas. The neighborhood units will not be occupied during the winter/spring terms. These capacity reductions reflect the best practices for preventing outbreaks among on-campus resident students. In addition, reduced density enables us to reserve space for isolation and quarantine needs. 

At the end of next week, the Housing Office will email students with additional information including details on prioritization and instructions to apply for University housing for winter and spring 2021. To keep everyone safe, move-in times and dates will be scheduled and staggered. Residence Life staff will offer community-building opportunities for residents that conform with local health orders. The Get Connected portal continues to be the go-to location to learn more about how students can get connected and engaged as we welcome students to a very different residential experience on-campus.  

Mandatory Frequent Testing

Robust testing along with contact tracing and supported isolation and quarantine for on-campus students will be vital components to keep our campus safe and protected from coronavirus outbreaks. In winter, we will ramp up to required weekly testing of all on-campus students as well as off-campus students who use campus facilities such as classrooms, the library, labs, etc. Students who live off-campus who don’t have hybrid classes are encouraged to come to weekly testing. In addition, everyone’s adherence to the Bronco Pact will be critical to ensuring everyone’s safety. This commitment includes mandatory symptom checks, participation in contact tracing and tracking (we now have 10 full-time trained contact tracers), and reporting of positive cases (even those without symptoms), to 408-554-5100. These protocols are key to stopping outbreaks that can reverse our hard-earned progress in reopening campus. 

In the coming weeks, we will share more details, including another round of mass testing before students in the area travel home at the end of the fall term. For your reference, the Testing Protocol website is being regularly updated as well as our testing dashboard.

Athletics Update

Athletics continues to work closely with Santa Clara County Health Department, the University, NCAA, and the West Coast Conference (WCC) to ensure the safe return of our athletic programs for the winter term. Strict health and safety protocols are being followed by coaches and our student athletes for testing, housing, team practices, games, and travel. As of now, spectators are not allowed at athletic events held in Santa Clara County. 



Amid all of this planning and preparation, we realize you may have questions. To give students and their families further updates and answer questions, please watch for an invitation next week to join us along with other University leaders for a Bronco parent/family webinar at the end of the month. In the meantime, please continue to visit the PreparedSCU website or email for any general inquiries

While grounded in reality and evolving circumstances, we also have our gaze fixed to the future and we do so with hope. We choose hope because we know at Santa Clara we can draw on deep wells of creativity and talent in our community, and deep wells of persistence and hard work, faith and kindness present here among us. We will be better and stronger because of how we met this moment together, with generosity and clarity of conviction, and always rooted in our mission.  

Take care and God bless.


Lisa A. Kloppenberg
Provost and Vice President for Academic Affairs

Kevin F. O’Brien, S.J.


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