President’s Update: Clemson on-track for return to campus instruction; all students to be tested for COVID-19

September 4, 2020

Dear Clemson Family:

One week from today, students will begin moving back to our main campus, and we are a little more than two weeks from the start of in-person classes and on-campus activities.

We are moving ahead as planned and are excited about having our students back, even during this challenging period.

We are currently finalizing plans to test all of our students — both before the start of in-person classes on Sept. 21 and throughout the fall semester.

On-campus residents still need to arrive on campus with a negative COVID-19 test result dated within 10 days of their arrival, and we will continue aggressive testing of off-campus students over the next two weeks — and all students throughout the semester. Details about locations and procedures for ongoing testing statewide will be shared with all students in the coming days.

As we move forward, we are keenly aware that we should prepare for an increase in COVID-19 cases among our students following our return to campus instruction and activities, as we have seen at other universities in recent weeks.

Delaying the start of in-person instruction until Sept. 21 provided the University valuable time to devise the necessary testing, contact tracing, quarantine/isolation and other protocols necessary to give us a good chance of success. It also has allowed us to learn from the experiences of peer institutions.

In order to help free up appropriate quarantine space it has become necessary to relocate a small number of students from their assigned on-campus residences to other locations on campus. Relocations will not involve first-year students, and we will be reaching out individually starting today to any affected students with details. All those who are affected will be notified with their options by end of the day Monday.

Once students return to our campuses, teaching will move to a hybrid model, with approximately two-thirds of our course sections containing an in-person component and all courses also being delivered online. Emphasis will be given to the needs of first-year students who will have a greater percentage of their courses delivered in-person. Students who wish to take all their courses online this semester can sign up here.

As I have said throughout the pandemic, the health and safety of our community is of paramount importance. We will not hesitate to adjust our mode of instruction again if the spread of the disease becomes such that it poses too great a threat to our students, employees or the community at large.

Widespread testing is a powerful tool in our effort to offer a residential educational experience, but testing alone won’t ensure our success. Remaining on campus for the remainder of the semester will require strong adherence to the safety protocols that have been developed and clearly communicated.

Each and every one of us owes it to our community to act selflessly in a manner that minimizes the risk of spreading the disease. Our expectations for students in this regard have been clearly spelled out in our Student Code of Conduct, and we are prepared to address flagrant violations of social distancing, gatherings and face-covering policies.

The past six months have been extremely challenging as we have worked to maintain a robust Clemson experience for our students in a safe manner, and I am deeply grateful to all our employees for their commitment, passion and love of this institution.

I also am appreciative of the patience that our students and their families have shown as we have worked through the thousands of details necessary to bring us all back to campus.

We will continue to communicate as we have further updates. In the meantime, I am excited to share the news that our COVID-19 resources web site has been significantly enhanced. I encourage you to visit the site for the latest information or send your questions to

I wish you all a safe and relaxing Labor Day weekend, and I especially urge our students to continue their responsible behavior. I can’t wait to see all of our students very soon.

Go Tigers!

Clemson University's 15th president, James P. Clements