California State University, Sacramento

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Academic COVID-Related FAQs

On this page, we have compiled specific FAQs about COVID-related conditions affecting Fall 2021 teaching and learning. Additional information about the campus response to COVID for the Fall 2021 semester for students and employees may be found on the Return to Campus page.

What's New

Updated: Thursday, Sept 16, 2021.


Is everyone on campus vaccinated?

No, there is no way to achieve 100% vaccination status on a campus as big as ours, and people can be exempt from vaccination on medical or religious grounds. Moreover, those with an approved exemption are not considered vaccinated. It is best to assume someone you meet may be unvaccinated.

Did the September 13, 2021 deadline for certification apply to faculty?

The September 13th date is not mandatory for CFA-represented employees at this time. For the safety of all on campus, those who do voluntarily submit their information and claim an exception will be invited to participate in testing but this will be at their discretion. Once the meet-and-confer session over the impact has concluded, we will modify this process in a way that is consistent with the results of the meet-and-confer.

Will I know the vaccination status of the students in my classes?

No. Faculty are currently not informed of the status of other required vaccinations for students and we will follow the same process in this situation.

If a student has a positive COVID test, the Student Health Center will follow the same protocols that they do already for other infectious diseases that pose a significant public health risk (e.g. TB). A thorough risk assessment will be conducted and students, faculty, and staff will be notified if there is a risk of exposure. If so, they will be provided with guidance on how to respond.

Can an instructor ask students about their vaccination or exemption status?

No, instructors cannot ask if students are vaccinated or have an exemption, because that is personal information. They will submit that information to the University via their Student Center. It’s okay if students voluntarily disclose their status but asking them to do so could make them feel pressured to reveal what they wouldn’t otherwise disclose. It is up to a student’s discretion to reveal medical information or religious beliefs. Even though the overwhelming majority of students on campus will be vaccinated, it is best to assume someone you meet is unvaccinated for the safety of the entire campus community.

Must non-vaccinated students be accommodated in face-to-face classes?

In the first two weeks of the semester, we asked faculty to be flexible with students who were not fully vaccinated before September 13. At this point, all students on campus must have certified that they are vaccinated or have requested an exemption. If a student in a face-to-face class is not vaccinated or does not have an exemption, instructors do not need to provide alternatives for those students. Beginning September 14th, students who had not completed their certification were denied access to campus. Beginning September 28th, students who either have not completed their certification or who have attested that they will not need to access campus will be administratively dropped from face-to-face courses.

How do I get a medical or religious exemption?

You can find information about the Vaccine Verification Program by going to the Human Resources webpage. Be sure to go to the Employee Center in My Sac State to complete the “COVID-19 Vaccination Certification,” where you can attest to being exempt.

I am teaching virtually and won’t be coming to campus. Do I still need to be vaccinated?

For public health reasons, we encourage all students, staff and faculty to be vaccinated. However, if you won't be accessing campus for any reason, you can attest to that via the "COVID-19 Vaccination Certification" process described above. Keep in mind that lack of vaccination can’t be used as a rationale for remaining off campus. If there is an operational need for you to be on campus, you must be vaccinated, or have a medical or religious exemption. Operational needs may include attendance at meetings or other gatherings, accessing the library, your office or a campus lab to conduct research, and/or future teaching obligations. Until your operational needs change, you can attest to the following: “I confirm that at this time I will not be physically accessing or performing work at CSU facilities but understand that if this changes, I must certify that I am either current on my COVID-19 vaccination status or that I qualify for a medical or religious exemption.”


What should a student do if they test positive for COVID-19?

Students who are tested on campus will find out within about 15 minutes if they test positive and will receive instructions immediately on next steps. Students who are tested off campus should inform Student Health and Counseling Services by reporting a positive COVID-19 test via the reporting link on the SHCS website. Students should notify their instructors (and/or work supervisors) that they are out sick as they would do for any other illness.

What happens when a student tests positive for COVID-19?

Student Health and Counseling Services will provide oral and written instructions to the student, including a directive not to attend in-person classes until they receive permission to return. The student will also be told to self-isolate. SHCS will notify the residence halls if the student lives on campus. If they live off-campus guidance will be provided to reduce exposure to others. A student who needs additional care (e.g., medical, psychiatric, basic needs) will be told how to get it.

What if it’s me who tests positive for COVID-19?

Employees who test positive for COVID-19 are asked to notify Risk Management by filling out the positive case reporting form. You should then continue working with your health care provider for medical support until you receive clearance to return to campus. If necessary, you should notify your supervisor that you need to take sick leave as you would do normally for any other illness.

What if a colleague tests positive for COVID-19?

Your colleague will notify Risk Management by filling out the positive case reporting form, and Risk Management as well as Human Resources/OFA will work together on appropriate notifications depending on the situation.

Face Covering

Do instructors need to wear a face mask?

Yes. There are no exceptions to the face covering mandate for anyone in the campus community, and it is required by the Sacramento County. However, you may wish to consider the advice offered by the Director of Services to Students with Disabilities (SSWD) regarding the use of face shields to facilitate lip reading. For ordering face coverings and other safety supplies, please check out EHS's Safety Supply page.

What if students have a hard time hearing me when I speak with my face mask on?

Risk Management has transparent face covering options, and IRT has upgraded classrooms to include sound amplification. If you need further assistance with a microphone while teaching, contact IRT.

Will the University provide face coverings for students who forget to bring one to class?

Yes, Campus Safety Ambassadors stationed in buildings will be able to provide face coverings, and Risk Management can also provide them.

What do I do if a student refuses to wear a face covering in class?

First, try to explain to the student why it’s important to wear a face covering—consider this a teachable moment, and take the opportunity to be supportive while educating. If the student needs a face covering, try to offer one provided by a Campus Safety Ambassador. If this approach doesn’t work, the student’s behavior would be considered a disruption to the learning environment and therefore the Disruptive Student Behavior policy would apply. In these circumstances:

  • Inform the student that they are disrupting the learning environment because they aren’t following campus policy and they need to put on a face covering if they want to stay in class
  • If the student still refuses, you can dismiss the student from the class session OR class may be cancelled
  • Do not call campus or municipal police to ask that a student be removed from class; simply cancel the remainder of the class session
  • Notify the Student Conduct Officer of the failure to follow campus policy

When the campus face covering mandate ends, can an instructor require masking?

There are likely very good reasons an instructor would want everyone in their class to wear a face covering. They should begin by explaining why they want it and encourage everyone to wear a face covering.


Are physical distancing mandates in place?

No, physical distancing in classrooms is no longer required. Local and state agencies have lifted such restrictions.

Can I decide to change the modality of my class from in-person to virtual?

No, individual faculty can’t decide to depart from the modality published in the class schedule. Decisions to alter the modality of a class for which students have signed up (e.g., switching a face-to-face class to synchronous remote instruction) will be made by the President and the Provost based on recommendations from county, state, or systemwide leaders.

What if I find out that I, or someone in my class, has been exposed to COVID-19?

It depends on whether the exposure occurred during “close contact,” which is typically defined as being within 6 feet of someone who has tested positive for more than 15 minutes. Since there are so many variables involved when someone is exposed to the virus (e.g., whether vaccinated or not), see this flowchart for guidance.

What if a student in my in-person class has COVID-19, should I make my class virtual then?

Sacramento State’s Student Health and Counseling Services performs a risk assessment whenever they find out a student has contracted the virus. In the unlikely event they deem it necessary for the modality of a class to change, someone will let you know. There is no need for you as an instructor to make such a decision. Changing the course modality can be chaotic and difficult for students who have organized their schedules around what is posted in the class schedule, so please keep things as normal as possible.

What happens during a risk assessment?

Student Health and Counseling Services personnel are trained medical providers, so they consider the same kinds of things any medical professional would assess, such as where an exposure took place, how long it lasted, under what circumstances it occurred, and what community health standards are in place to govern the situation. They are skilled at these kinds of risk assessments, which they conduct for other potential exposures such as meningitis or tuberculosis.

What happens if I’m vaccinated but I’ve been exposed to COVID-19, should I continue teaching my class?

As this flowchart indicates, fully vaccinated and asymptomatic people who are exposed to the virus do not need to self-quarantine and can continue to work as normal. However, please check with your medical provider for guidance and follow-up.

What about my office hours?

Follow the University policy governing office hours, and further consider whether the modality of your office hours should mirror the modality of the course. That means if you are teaching an in-person class, your office hours would be face-to-face as well. Similarly, students in remote classes would be able to connect with you virtually. You might consider offering both in-person and virtual ways for students in all of your classes to connect with you, and you might also consider holding in-person office hours outside if it would make you and your students more comfortable.

Further Information

What if I have a question about my classes or students that hasn’t been addressed here?

You are welcome to pose academic questions to

What if I have a question about something else related to the campus response to COVID-19?

You are welcome to pose non-academic questions to

Where can I go for more information about the University response to COVID-19?

Here are some resources you can check out: