Carnegie Mellon University

CMU Housing COVID-19 Planning

Fall 2021 Housing Plans & Considerations

The planned approach for housing in academic year 2021-2022 is an optimistic one, with conditions much closer to what our residents experienced prior to the pandemic. The following FAQs about fall 2021 are based on what we currently know and can presume. As conditions evolve, we will evaluate and update our plans and communicate periodic updates on this website and via direct email communication with residential students planning to live in our house communities.

We are activating and utilizing our spaces at a higher density, which will allow us to best engender the social connectivity that our houses have always been known for. As outlined in the FAQs that follow, we are positioned to offer opportunities, services and programs that best leverage our staff and facility resources, while maintaining our commitment to safety.

Consistent with scientific evidence on the importance of vaccine adoption to control spread of the virus, to the extent permissible by law, Carnegie Mellon University has required all enrolled students, including residential students, to be vaccinated for COVID-19, effective this fall semester. 

More information about this requirement, requirements for unvaccinated students, approved vaccines, exemptions to the vaccine requirement and vaccine documentation can be found on the CMU COVID-19 Updates website.

Residential students who arrive on campus out of compliance with the university requirement will be permitted to move into their housing assignment. However, these students will be required to adhere to mitigation strategies (such as wearing facial coverings, maintaining physical distancing, and participating in weekly testing) as they take steps toward meeting the requirement. The university is offering several on-campus vaccine clinics proximate to move-in to assist these students. Residential students who willfully remain out-of-compliance with the university vaccination requirement may be removed from housing and/or administratively suspended.


We have adopted a posture of assigning roommates, with no more than two residents per bedroom. Singles are assigned as singles, while doubles, triples and quads are all assigned as doubles.

We encourage roommates to discuss with each other their individual needs and requests for living together in as safe and healthy a manner as possible. While the university will never share a student’s vaccination information with another student, we do ask students to consider voluntarily sharing that information with their roommates. Should any difficulties related to living arrangements arise between roommates, please seek assistance from the Housefellow for the relevant community.

As of August 15, the university is reinstating the requirement for everyone to wear facial coverings (sufficient to cover the nose and mouth) at all times, regardless of vaccination status. This requirement applies to all common community spaces within all of university housing.  While this requirement does not extend to private bedrooms when occupied only by one or both roommates, we encourage roommates to discuss with each other their individual needs and requests for living together in as safe and healthy a manner as possible, which may include roommates mutually agreeing to wear facial coverings. Should any difficulties related to living arrangements arise between roommates, please seek assistance from the Housefellow for the relevant community.

The university has reinstated the requirement for everyone to wear facial coverings (sufficient to cover the nose and mouth) on campus at all times, regardless of vaccination status. While this expectation is in effect, physical distancing is required only for unvaccinated community members who have removed their facial covering for the purposes of eating/drinking or working outdoors. However, all community members are strongly encouraged to be mindful of physical distancing, particularly in situations where they are appropriately unmasked. (Note: this item will be updated when the facial covering requirement is adjusted or eliminated.)

In light of our mitigation strategies, we are able to maintain a higher density of furniture and people in our residential lounge/common spaces and have generally restored capacities to pre-pandemic levels.

All amenity spaces in our residence halls will be accessible and operational for the fall semester. Expectations for the use of shared kitchens, practice rooms, fitness rooms and recreation amenities will be provided by RAs in conjunction with move-in.

In the spring 2021 semester, we assigned groups of no more than four residents to a set of fixtures in community bathrooms in order to enable our contact tracing efforts. For the fall 2021 semester, this approach has been discontinued in lieu of other mitigation strategies (including the student vaccination requirement).

Consistent with the university’s visitor protocol, visitors and guests are allowed in the residence halls so long as it is done in a manner that is consistent with both the visitor protocol and the university housing policy on guests and visitors.

Students are not required to complete an arrival quarantine before coming to campus for the fall semester. 

In order to limit the number of people moving into the residence halls at any one time, students have selected a pre-scheduled appointment time in which to conduct their move. Also, we ask that no more than two visitors (such as parents or family members) assist a student with their move. Detailed information is provided on the first-year move-in and upperclass move-in webpages.

All students (including residential students) must complete two Tartan Tests within their first two weeks on campus. Thereafter, only those residential students who are not fully vaccinated will be required to participate in weekly testing. Details can be found on the Tartan Testing webpage.

Detailed information can be found on the isolation and quarantine housing webpage.

While we do not currently expect such issues to emerge in a manner that would significantly disrupt our plans, we have developed a number of contingency strategies to be responsive to circumstances that could possibly arise. Should we be forced to enact any such measures, our goal will be to do what we reasonably can to avoid adverse impact on the engaging in-person experience we aspire to offer for our students living in university housing this year.