Information About COVID-19

Please continue to monitor this page for updates. The health and safety of faculty, staff and students are always the university’s top priority. USC Upstate senior leaders continue to follow guidance provided by the Centers for Disease Control (CDC) and the South Carolina Department of Health and Environmental Control (SCDHEC) regarding COVID-19.

COVID-19 Resources

May 26, 4:00 p.m.

Dear Campus Community,                                                           

After considerable deliberation among campus leaders, a review of the latest science and data available, and after many hours of thoughtful reflection, I am pleased to announce our plan for a return to campus this fall.

We are calling this comprehensive plan “Spartan Safe Start.” The plan is an adaptable approach to the upcoming semester that balances the need for a positive learning environment with the realities we all face during this ongoing COVID-19 pandemic. It is “safe” in that we have placed safety concerns at the forefront of our thinking. Safety will be our guiding principle in all we do to start the term. It is a “start” in the sense that classes will begin on time, August 20, with flexible course options and expanded online offerings.

On-campus coursework will begin in August, and we will follow an adaptable plan to increase or decrease our on-campus presence in response to various benchmarks. Those benchmarks will be developed over the summer by a COVID-19 Response Team led by Mary Bucher, APRN, our director of Health Services, and comprised of representatives from across campus. Director Bucher will also lead staff training on best health practices and protocols as our faculty and staff return to campus over the summer.

The approach we outline in “Spartan Safe Start” is akin to a “dimmer” switch that lets the room receive more or less light as circumstances warrant, instead of an on-off switch, and I think this draws a positive image of where we want to go. Students who prefer to continue to learn remotely will be encouraged to do so. Conversely, students who wish to return to campus will have options to consider.

Details of the plan follow, but I wanted to start by sharing a little bit about how we arrived at this point—the principles and data we have used, and will continue to employ, in making our decisions.

USC Upstate is a proud member of the University of South Carolina System. Each system institution is different in terms of size, programs and mission, and our decisions reflect qualities specific to USC Upstate’s unique student population. I am particularly sensitive to students who may feel uncomfortable returning to campus until they feel it is completely safe to do so. Likewise, I am sensitive to the needs of faculty and staff who want to know that we are prioritizing their health as well as the health of their loved ones.

At USC Upstate, our strength lies in our diversity. We share a commitment to foster an inclusive environment that affirms identity and embraces our university’s core values of wellness, equity, and civility. We know that COVID-19 is impacting some of our students and families deeply.

To the parents, grandparents, and families of our Upstate students, I want to share a special message: I hope these actions show we care deeply for your sons, daughters, nieces, nephews, brothers and sisters. We pledge to implement best practices and training to keep our students safe. It is one thing to say that safety is a priority, but in our plan it is the top priority.

This “Spartan Safe Start” plan also means that we will ask you to help us begin and end the fall semester in the right way. Please encourage your loved ones to continue to practice safe social distancing, and to follow campus guidelines when they are here. Please help us to help them. We will do all we can to be proactive in this plan, and we will need your help to be successful...

Read The Full "Spartan Safe Start" Plan 

May 6, 5:15 p.m.

University of South Carolina President Bob Caslen shared an update with the Columbia campus today regarding their projected plans for fall. Likewise, USC Upstate leadership has spent the last several weeks developing a plan for returning to our campus, one that serves our unique student population and community well.

The health and safety of our campus community is our top priority. As we continue to address COVID-19 and its impact on higher education across the nation, we are reviewing many plans and considering a number of measures in connection with a return to normal operations. As we continue to study data specific to the Upstate region, we will consider a number of measures, all of which can be adjusted as more data become available.

We have developed a plan that we are calling “Safe Start.” The next steps in our decision-making process will include an analysis of:

  • Potentially phasing in a return to campus and in-person teaching, including maintaining smaller class sizes;
  • Increasing the number of classes available online or through blended teaching;
  • Reduced density in on-campus housing;
  • Accommodating students who may need to be isolated due to COVID-19;
  • Investing in testing and equipment, working proactively to prevent spread of the virus and help ensure we can identify quickly students, faculty or staff who exhibit symptoms of illness;
  • Modifying our dining schedules and practices to reduce close contact among students and providing more options for “to-go” meals;
  • Preparing and sharing widely campaigns designed to educate the campus community about social distancing and other safety protocols.

We will continue to work closely with state and federal health organizations and plan to announce definitive plans in the next few weeks. Our goal is to provide an exceptional college experience despite the challenges this pandemic has posed, and we look forward to working with you over the summer to address any questions you may have.

Please look for a more formal announcement from us soon.

April 3, 12:30 p.m.

COVID-19 has presented us with unprecedented challenges this semester. And yet, because of the commitment of our dedicated faculty and staff, and the resiliency of our students, we were able to transition to virtual instruction so that the education of our students could continue. We know, however, that these unusual times have understandably created anxiety and uncertainty among our students, particularly concerning grades, and a number of students have expressed those concerns to us. We have heard them, and as a result, after careful thought and extensive discussions, USC Upstate has adopted the following grade policy for Spring 2020 classes. (This policy has also been adopted by the USC Columbia campus.)

  • All courses will be graded as originally planned according to grading criteria established by the instructor.
  • After grades are submitted at the end of the semester, undergraduates can choose, on a course-by-course basis, to request a pass/fail grade for the Spring 2020 semester.
  • The following scale will be used: Earned grades of A, B+, B, C+, and C will be replaced with S+ (Satisfactory +), earned grades of D+ and D will be replaced with S (Satisfactory), and an earned grade of F or FN will be replaced with U (Unsatisfactory).
  • If students select the S+/S/U grading scale for a course, points will not be factored into the GPA. Courses with S+ and S will count towards earned semester hours.
  • Courses graded with the S+/S/U scale will count as appropriate towards applicable curricular, major, continuation, and graduation requirements. For example, if a course requires a C or better in a prerequisite, students selecting this alternative grading scale would need an S+ in the prerequisite course.
  • The deadline to decide to replace a course letter grade with the S+/S/U is July 1, 2020.
  • This process will occur through the Registrar’s Office. A form will be available on the Registrar’s website for you to request that a letter grade be replaced with the S+/S/U scale.
  • Students also have the option to retake undergraduate courses in which they have earned an S+, S, or U during Spring 2020. Any undergraduate courses retaken under this provision will not count towards the number of courses currently allowed by the current grade forgiveness policy. In addition, students who were retaking a class for grade forgiveness in Spring 2020 can retake the class another semester, without penalty.
  • Spring 2020 classes that were completed prior to Spring break are not eligible for this option. Classes from previous semesters are not eligible.
  • High school dual enrollment students should be aware that S+/S/U grades may not count towards high school graduation requirements.

In most cases, we believe keeping their letter grade will be a student’s best option. However, students who are considering taking advantage of the pass/fail scale for their Spring 2020 classes are strongly encouraged to contact their academic advisor and our financial aid office prior to making a final decision as there are many factors to consider including a) financial aid, b) scholarships, c) athletic eligibility, d) professional program requirements, e) graduate school applications, and f) progression toward a degree implications for changing a course grade.

Specifically, according to our current guidance:

  • S+/S/U grades are excluded from GPA calculations for Palmetto Fellows and Hope/Life Scholars and for federal financial aid;
  • S+/S grades will count towards completion rates for federal financial aid;
  • Student-athletes should consult with their athletic advisor to ensure that choosing S+/S/U grades will not negatively impact NCAA progress-toward-degree requirements.

Additional guidance regarding the grading accommodations will be issued over the coming weeks from the Office of the Provost.

April 2, 1:30 p.m.

We hope this finds you and your family well. This is an extraordinary time. Please know that USC Upstate is dedicated to making this semester as positive an experience as possible, as we all work together to process the impacts of COVID-19 on our students and communities. As a public institution, USC Upstate is working closely with the state’s Commission on Higher Education to protect the investments of all students. Because the state’s public institutions will continue to provide educational and student services online, tuition and other academic/student service fees will not be refunded or credited. The CHE’s guidance focuses on auxiliary or self-supporting services that will no longer be provided to students who were asked to return to their homes to complete the semester online. CHE guidance includes the following notes:

  • Students who remain on campus for the remainder of the semester will not be eligible for refunded or credited services.
  • Refunds or credits for housing and meals will be prorated based on the number of days for which the service will not be provided to the student(s). Individual institutions will calculate the amount to be refunded or credited. Further, whether refund or credit, any remittance will first be applied to any remaining current charges.
  • Refunds or credits for eligible students will be processed by an institution at the earliest possible time based on a schedule determined by the institution.

Our teams are working as quickly as possible to determine appropriate refunds or credits. If you do not have direct deposit set up in SSC, please do that as soon as possible. This will help expedite the refund process. If you have specific questions, please contact

March 19, 5:30 p.m.

As we continue to monitor the impacts of COVID-19 on university campuses across the country, and in consultation with public health experts, it has become necessary to extend virtual learning for students at least through the remainder of the Spring semester. USC Upstate, along with all other UofSC System institutions, will teach and learn remotely through the completion of final exams in May.

Sadly, the May Commencement ceremonies must also be postponed across the UofSC System, including USC Upstate. Working closely with System President Bob Caslen, we are committed to exploring options for rescheduled, in-person ceremonies when it is safe to gather together to celebrate the achievements of the Class of 2020. Students, please know this change will not impact your degree completion status if you are scheduled to graduate in May.

Today, Governor McMaster issued another Executive Order to limit access to campus to essential, mission-critical employees only. This means that only university employees whose presence is necessary on campus to maintain continuity of our online educational offerings or to ensure the health and safety of the campus shall report to work, effective immediately. If you have any questions about whether to report to campus, please speak to your supervisor.

There are still many questions to answer. We will work as quickly as possible to keep you informed of developments. Students, please know:

  • If you were previously granted permission to remain on campus due to extenuating circumstances, you will be allowed to stay.
  • If you live in our residence halls, you will have an opportunity to retrieve your belongings at a time to be announced. Student Affairs leaders are developing a schedule for retrieval and will update you as soon as possible.
  • The state’s Commission on Higher Education is coordinating with colleges and universities in order to address housing and other service reimbursements to ensure student investments are protected.

March 16, 8:30 a.m.

In the interest of the health and wellbeing of our faculty, staff and students, we continue to monitor and take measured actions to mitigate the potential impacts of COVID-19 on our campus. Late yesterday, Governor McMaster issued an Executive Order concerning schools statewide through March 31. As a result, all public colleges and universities, including those in the UofSC System, will modify operations beginning today, Monday, March 16 through March 31.

A few critical highlights concerning our university operations during this period are detailed below:


  • As announced last week, we are transitioning from face-to-face instruction to virtual instruction starting today, Monday, March 16.
  • Regarding on-campus housing, students living in residence halls were requested not to return to campus yesterday as these areas are congregate settings and proper social distancing can be difficult to achieve, particularly for students with roommates. Students were provided instructions for retrieving essential belongings.
  • Housing and Residential Life staff are addressing individual requests from students who need to remain on campus. For those with no other housing options available, you must complete an Extenuating Circumstances Form to remain in on-campus housing.


  • Only essential employees as identified by their supervisors shall report to work on campus. Supervisors have identified and contacted employees who are expected to report to work on Monday, March 16. All other employees are directed to work from home March 16 – 31, also as directed by their supervisors.
  • Supervisors will contact their direct reports, advising of duties assigned during this period.
  • Any employee, regardless of status, who is in a high-risk-for-infection category should notify his or her supervisor and is directed to work from home.
  • Return to campus is permitted briefly on Monday, March 16 to gather essential belongings necessary to work from home. Coordinate this activity with your supervisor.
  • Every member of our community is asked to be flexible and creative as, together with your supervisor, you consider options for working remotely. Employees whose jobs do not normally lend themselves to telecommuting may be able to view training materials, document processes and procedures, or perform other meaningful work. This also applies to employees in temporary positions. 
  • Per CDC recommendations, the university will postpone or cancel all events of 50 people or more for the next several weeks.
  • All non-essential University travel is discontinued until further notice.

While we understand this is a trying time for many, please rest assured University Counseling Services and Health Services remain operational. If needed, students can contact Counseling Services at 864-503-5195. For faculty and staff, counseling resources are always available through our Employee Assistance Program.

Members of our campus community should continue to monitor the university website, email, and SpartAlerts for news and updates. More information about SpartAlert notifications may be found on the Public Safety pages of the university website.

March 15, 11:00 a.m. (UPDATED from 9 a.m.)

As the University monitors the impact of COVID-19 in South Carolina and makes additional plans, based on pandemic projections and potential widespread need for isolation in the coming two weeks we are implementing restrictions to campus housing. We are requesting that all on-campus residents do NOT return to housing if not already on campus. Students who were registered to remain on campus during Spring Break are requested to move to a permanent residence.

At this time, students without extenuating circumstances will not be authorized to reside in campus residence halls until further notice. This decision is based on advice from health care experts and is designed to protect the health and safety of our students and the community. Students living in close quarters can rapidly spread the coronavirus and significantly increase the chances of a major outbreak. We appreciate the patience and understanding of students and families as we respond to this rapidly emerging public health crisis. 

For students who have no other housing option available, please complete this Extenuating Circumstances Form. This is a new form must be completed and approved before living in the residence halls.

Students seeking to return to the residence halls to collect personal belongings (e.g., books, medication, etc.) will be permitted temporary access today, Sunday, March 15 until 8:00 p.m., and from 9:00 a.m. to 4:00 p.m. for the remainder of the week.

Palmetto House and Magnolia House residents must first check in at the front lobby desk prior to going to their room.

Food service will be made available for students with meal plans and extenuating circumstances

Update March 12

At this time, there are no confirmed cases of Coronavirus associated with USC Upstate. We will be suspending face-to-face instruction and transitioning to virtual instruction beginning Monday, March 16 until further notice. For full details, please see the latest message from the Chancellor. If you have questions, please call 864-503-5246.

We will continue to assess the situation as it evolves and will provide updates as warranted. Students should expect to hear from their professors regarding details about their classes. Staff should report to work as usual.