FAQ: Everything you need to know about Sac State’s return to campus in fall 2021


Patrick Posuniak and Chrissy Martinez

It’s been over a year since all Sacramento State classes went remote due to the COVID-19 pandemic, many students are planning on returning to campus for the first time in the fall 2021 semester. The State Hornet compiled answers to frequently asked questions about the fall semester’s COVID-19 regulations, on-campus services and more. Graphic created in Canva.

Chrissy Martinez and Alec Ramey

It’s been over a year since all Sacramento State classes went remote due to the COVID-19 pandemic, many students are planning on returning to campus for the first time in the fall 2021 semester.

The State Hornet compiled answers to frequently asked questions about the fall semester’s COVID-19 regulations, on-campus services and more. This will be updated as Sac State releases more information about the upcoming semester.

A mask is handed to a student by a desk attendant at the Student Health and Counseling Services located in The WELL on March 12, 2020 at Sac State. COVID-19 regulations concerning face coverings and social distancing may change during the summer, however Sac State’s administration said they will continue encouraging students to wash hands frequently and use hand sanitizer to ensure good hygiene. (Ashton Byers)


Q: What are the COVID-19 regulations that Sac State students must follow? 

A: Sac State is subject to multiple layers of regulatory policies and public health guidelines. Currently, students must wear a face covering and be six feet apart on campus. 

“As a public university, we follow requirements and policies from the State of California, CAL/OSHA, the CSU System and our campus policies as approved by President Nelsen,” said Ed Mills, vice president of student affairs. 

Sac State’s COVID-19 guidelines, which comply with the State of California and CAL/OSHA as of May, recommend students, faculty and staff to complete daily health self-screening each time they come to campus. The guidelines also recommend to maintain six feet of distance from others, wear face coverings that cover the nose and mouth, wash hands frequently, to not come to Sac State if sick and sanitize hands and shared equipment. To learn more about the protocols, visit here

“We will have more specific information in summer about the types of public health guidelines we will be following in the fall,” Mills said. 

Q: Will students have to social distance? If so, how much?

A: Mills said Sac State does not have a final answer to this question yet for fall 2021. The decisions about physical distancing will be based on Sacramento’s public health guidelines as they evolve over summer. 

“As the guidelines continue to be updated, we will communicate with the campus community,” Mills said. 

Sac State’s Division of Occupational Safety and Health will meet toward the end of May to discuss potentially changing the social distancing guideline from six feet to three feet. 

At the moment, Mills said Sac State has been given the opportunity to plan for three feet apart in offices and classrooms for fall 2021. 

Q: Will students be required to wear masks? If so, will they be required to wear them in classrooms, at the food eateries, and/or outside on campus?

A: Mills said he believes the face covering guidelines will change over summer. 

“It is very likely that face coverings will continue to be required (e.g. in classes or buildings like the AIRC, Union and Library),” Mills said. “There may be fewer restrictions outside, but we don’t have definitive answers yet.”

The Centers for Disease Control announced new guidelines for fully vaccinated Americans on Thursday, stating fully vaccinated people can resume normal activities without wearing a mask or physically distancing, except where required by federal, state, local or business rules and regulations.

Q: Which eateries will return to campus in fall 2021? Can students eat on campus?

A: According to Angela Rader, director of marketing services at University Enterprises, Inc., the decision regarding the eateries that will return to campus is currently being assessed based on how many students are going to be on campus, though this does not apply to Dining Commons and Courtyard Market.

Rader does not believe there will be an answer to this until at least July.

Q: Will Sac State students’ hygiene be enforced? If so, how? 

A: Sac State community members will be encouraged to continue following guidelines such as handwashing and hand sanitizing, Mills said. The hygiene of students will not be enforced but face coverings will be.

“We will have hand sanitizing stations throughout the campus in the buildings near classrooms,” Mills said, adding that the university will supply soap in the bathrooms.  

Q: Can online classes be changed to an in-person modality before the fall semester? What is the deadline for course modalities to be chosen?
A: According to Steve Perez, provost and vice president of academic affairs, classes’ current modality schedule and the number of students allowed in a classroom at once is built with the current plans of three feet of physical distance. Perez believes that modalities could change if there is a change in the CDC’s social distancing recommendations for universities.

President Nelsen told The State Hornet that even as restrictions are loosened, he does not believe that class modalities are likely to change drastically for the fall. He added that a change in course modality would be proposed by the dean of a department and approved by the provost and himself. 

Cars parked in Sac State’s Parking Structure II. Due to COVID-19, university transportation and parking services will not increase parking permit prices and provide an option to purchase virtual parking permits. (Tracy Holmes)


Q: Will there be more parking available to students given the modalities have created different course schedules this semester?

A: All of the campus student parking areas will be open for the students returning back to campus, said Jeff Dierking, University Transportation and Parking Services (UTAPS) administrative services manager. 

Q: How is Sac State preparing for the increase in traffic?

A: UTAPS will be assisting with campus traffic and recommends students to plan ahead to allow for additional driving time. 

“We encourage students to download the Sacramento State mobile app and use the parking availability map feature to find available parking before traveling to campus,” Dierking said. He added that parking alternatives such as the light rail, regional transit and bicycling are encouraged. 

Q: How much do Sac State’s parking permits cost?

A: Permits for the semester are $178 and residence hall semester permits are $231.

Q: Will parking permits cost the same as pre-COVID-19 semesters?

A: Yes, parking permit prices have not changed due to COVID-19, Dierking said. 

Q: Is there anything else Sac State students should know about parking for fall 2021?

A: UTAPS transitioned to virtual permits in spring 2021. This allows for a contactless permit purchase option where a student’s license plate functions as a parking permit, Dierking said. 

“There is no need to wait for a permit to be delivered,” he said. 

Virtual permits may be purchased online at the parking portal and more information about the virtual permits can be found here

Q: Is Sac State changing its policy to require volunteers on campus to purchase parking permits when previously volunteer parking permits were free?

A: Dierking said after an audit to the parking permit programs, changes to the parking permit programs will begin August 1, 2021. 

These changes include waived-fee volunteer parking permits will be discontinued and volunteers will be purchased through departments at the student parking rate, Dierking said. 

“The purchase of volunteer permits can be done by department (through an All University Expense fund),” Dierking said. 

Dierking said UTAPS advised departments that they can still purchase volunteer permits and he expects the parking All University Expense (AUE) fund to cover these permits. 

Q: Who must pay for permits and who is exempt from paying for permits?

A: “All permits issued on campus follow Sections 42200 and 42201 of Title 5 of the California Code of Regulations,” Dierking said. 

Parking is set aside for automobiles by students, by employees of the campus and by the general public, according to the California Code of Regulations

Q: Are there any other changes being made to policies regarding parking at Sac State?

A: Dierking said UTAPS is not looking to change policies. 

“UTAPS is ensuring the departments have the ability to purchase the volunteer permits and funding sources available for these programs,” Dierking said. 

Q: Can Sac State students utilize regional transit for free in Sacramento?

A: Yes. Sac State students may still receive a commuter sleeve at no additional cost to ride regional transit, Dierking said. 

“Students now can request a commuter sleeve from our parking portal online and have them mailed to their address,” Dierking said. 

The early move-outs prompted by the coronavirus leave the Riverview Hall plaza empty aside from two people pushing a wheeled moving cart on March 18, 2020. Samuel Jones, executive director of University Housing Services, said he is working to get the Residence Halls back to full occupancy for fall 2021. (Magaly Muñoz)

Residence halls 

Q: How will the residence halls be affected by COVID-19 regulations for fall 2021?

A: Mills said he expects that for individuals who are vaccinated that the limitations and restrictions may be reduced during summer 2021. With more people getting vaccinated he expects the guidelines to change. 

Samuel Jones, executive director of University Housing Services, said he is working to get the residence halls back to full occupancy and housing will be following the CDC’s guidelines. 

“We typically house over 2,100 students in North Village,” Jones said. “As we bring Hornet Commons online in August with 1,100 beds, we expect the same occupancy.”

For more information about housing updates evolving around the pandemic, visit here.  

An empty view from above The WELL at Sacramento State Oct. 28, 2020. The WELL will re-open in August and will comply with the COVID-19 regulations required at that time. (Sara Nevis)

The WELL services

Q: Will The WELL return to in-person operations for fall 2021 such as the gym, and other services within The WELL?

A: Yes. In August, The WELL will re-open and Sac State will cease outdoor WELL events in Parking Structure 3 as well, Mills said. 

“The WELL will follow the COVID-19 safety guidelines that are in-place for our area at that time,” Mills said. 

More specific information about the types of public guidelines Sac State will be following in the fall will be released during the summer, Mills said, including guidelines for how many people can be inside The WELL and if The WELL will operate by appointment only. 

The WELL’s campus recreation programs and services are planning to resume indoor operations for the fall if there are not any major changes to the state of COVID-19 in Sacramento’s community, Jessica Swart, assistant director of member services and operations, said. 

Student Health and Counseling Services will continue operating both indoors and via telehealth in fall 2021, Swart said. 

Q: What regulations will be implemented at The WELL? 

A: Swart said The WELL’s recreation programs are currently planning to incorporate safety recommendations that are currently in place for the outdoor fitness program. 

“For example, requiring face coverings, limiting the capacity of our spaces, making sure that our equipment and spaces allow for social distancing,” Swart said. 

Q: How will the services be operated?

A: The WELL will be balancing both COVID-19 regulations and adapting to the remaining impacts of The WELL expansion project, which Swart said will affect existing and new spaces until the project finishes sometime during the fall. 

“Our building expansion project will be wrapping up this fall as well which is going to provide a significant increase in space, lockers, all gender showers, expanded fitness floor, new fitness studios,” Swart said. She also said that the SHCS will be expanding services and spaces for counseling, health education, athletic training and an urgent care clinic. 

Ronald Lutz, director of student health and counseling services, said most of the operational details are still being worked out administratively. 

Students walk across the library quad in May 2019. Sac State students unfamiliar with campus will have an opportunity to tour and get familiarized with the university in time before returning to school in fall 2021. (Shaun Holkko)


Q: Will there be tours for Sac State students that have never been on campus before?

A: Sac State Admissions and Outreach is working on a plan to gradually re-introduce in-person campus tours for Sac State students during summer 2021, Mills said. More details will be released on Sac State’s website when made available, Mills said. 

“We are also looking to offer students the opportunity to be vaccinated, receive a free box lunch and access some campus services (e.g. to turn in financial aid forms, etc.) as part of the tours,” Mills said, adding that the tours are still under development. 

Mills said tours will likely occur during June through August and anybody who wants to tour campus will be given the option to do so. 

For more information about tours and scheduling a virtual tour, visit here