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 look forward to 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 will be 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 will require 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, international 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 plans to offer 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.

We will return to a posture of assigning roommates, with no more than two residents per bedroom. Singles will be assigned as singles, while doubles, triples and quads will all be 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 outlined in a June 16 campus update, facial coverings are no longer required for fully-vaccinated individuals on campus. Students who are not fully vaccinated will be required to wear a facial covering in residence hall common areas, including lounges.


Consistent with CDC guidance, the university has lifted its six-foot distancing requirement for fully vaccinated individuals in campus settings, including our residence halls. This has positioned us to maintain a higher density of furniture and people in our residential lounge and common spaces than was the case during the 2020-2021 academic year, which will amplify the levels of in-person programming and social connectivity in our house communities.

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 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. While we aspire to make some adjustments to this expectation for the fall semester, we will be studying alternatives this summer and our strategy will be announced in August.

We do anticipate adjusting the “no visitor” policy for the fall 2021 semester. Our intention is to focus primarily on affording residential access to visitors and guests who have been vaccinated. For example, in light of the university’s vaccine requirement for students, we fully anticipate that our policy will allow a student in one residence hall to visit a friend in another residence hall. We will continue to study our visitor policy based on evolving conditions and plan to announce it in August.

The university has adopted an arrival testing requirement for students that mitigates the need for an arrival quarantine requirement. Details on the arrival testing requirement can be found on the university’s COVID-19 Updates website.


We are still in the process of confirming the details regarding fall 2021 semester move-in. In order to limit the number of people moving into the residence halls at any one time, students will select a pre-scheduled appointment time in which to conduct their move. Also, we will ask that no more than two visitors (such as parents or family members) assist a student with their move. Detailed information will be provided by the end of July and posted on the first-year move-in and upperclass move-in webpages.

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.

Looking ahead to the fall 2021 semester, we are prepared that we may still need to require residential students in certain circumstances to move to isolation/quarantine housing. The university’s expectations will be informed by evolving public health guidance, particularly related to whether vaccinated individuals who have been identified as a close contact need to move into IQ housing. Further information will be provided in August.

Under current conditions, isolation housing is required for any student who becomes symptomatic or tests positive for COVID-19 (without regard to vaccination status), and quarantine housing is required for any unvaccinated residential students who were in close contact with such a student during the previous 10 days. Isolation/quarantine (IQ) housing provides a private bedroom/bathroom living space which a student must remain in at all times during the IQ period, meaning all engagement with university coursework will be done via remote learning. Meals are delivered to the living space, and regular virtual support check-ins are provided by University Health Services and Student Affairs staff.

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 next year.