For Students

More information on Occidental’s planning for Fall 2021, organized by topic.

Updated 8/9/21

Fall 2021

Our return to in-person instruction is based on a variety of measures to support you and your safety, starting with our mandatory vaccination policy. Our policy also requires strict testing protocols for unvaccinated individuals with valid exemptions. In addition, we just completed an accelerated inspection and upgrade program for all campus air circulation systems to ensure we have safely ventilated buildings, and we are following Los Angeles County guidelines requiring mask-wearing while inside by everyone, regardless of vaccination status. As we have throughout the pandemic, we will continue to monitor the latest scientific findings, follow the guidance of public health officials, and adjust our policies as conditions require.

Visit the Returning to Campus page for information and dedicated programming specific to both first-years and sophomores arriving on campus for the first time. On-campus housing will be provided to all first-year and rising sophomore students, and full housing info for all students is available at the REHS website.

The U.S. State Department recently announced that international students may obtain a “National Interest Exception” to the international travel ban, which will make it possible for our international students to return to campus. Unvaccinated individuals arriving from overseas have been given instructions on quarantining upon arrival and access to the Johnson and Johnson vaccine. Vaccinated individuals arriving from abroad will be tested 3-5 days after arrival and asked to follow strict masking policies until receiving a negative test result.

Read the latest updates on the reopening of athletic facilities. The Academic Commons is partially reopened to students.

Health & Safety

A return to on-campus life does not by any measure mean abandoning the best-practice safety measures that we have come to rely on. We do expect our testing program, even for those who are fully vaccinated, to remain in place this fall. And we will continue to follow the guidance of public health officials as they apply to college campuses. In order to protect our campus community, those living or working on campus must abide by our health and safety requirements. This includes wearing face masks in public at all times, practicing physical distancing, and using a College-sponsored monitoring app for daily temperature and symptom checks.

Read the latest COVID testing policy information for campus.

Consistent with our current policy, all cases of COVID-19 as well as campus testing data this fall will be shared with the community. The Office of Parent Engagement will notify parents of steps taken to ensure the community is protected, including contact tracing, isolation and quarantine protocols, and testing procedures.


Welcoming all students back to campus this fall means that courses will be taught primarily in person, although some virtual innovations introduced over the past year may continue to supplement and enhance the student experience. The return to in-person instruction includes all types of classes, including those we simply could not offer remotely over the past year. Ongoing consultation with faculty about course delivery will continue as we work out all the practical details of safely returning to in-person instruction across the range of academic disciplines.

Student Life

With proof of vaccination required of all students, residence hall occupancy and staffing will return to pre-pandemic levels in Fall 2021. In addition to planning an Orientation and support structures designed for new first-year students, we also recognize that our rising sophomore class has not been on campus and will require dedicated new student programming. As such, we are planning a Welcome Experience for the Class of 2024, as well as assistance with roommate matching. For juniors, the waiver allowing them to live off-campus without petitioning will remain in place for the 2021-22 year. We expect that the full range of student activities also will resume. And, as all students will be returning to campus this fall, we feel very optimistic that we will be participating in varsity athletics again.

Student Compact

The College has developed a COVID-19 Student Compact that supplements the 2020-2021 Code of Student Conduct. The Compact provides guidance to students and community members of the expectations students are to follow as it pertains to the COVID-19 pandemic. The Compact was developed in collaboration from several offices at the College: Office of Student Conduct, Emmons Wellness Center, Residential Education and Housing Services, Dean of Students Office, Athletics, and Campus Safety. Additionally, student representatives from the Resident Advisor program and Honor Board were involved in this process.