UCLA, USC Move to Online Classes Over Coronavirus Concerns


LOS ANGELES (CNS) - UCLA will suspend all in-person classes “wherever possible” beginning today and continuing through April 10 in response to concerns about coronavirus, while USC will begin three days of online classes to test its “technical capabilities” in case it also scrubs in-person courses.

In an email sent to USC students Tuesday night, the university indicated that classes will also be conducted online the week of March 22, after spring break.

USC's initial move to online classes was announced following emergency declarations by the state and Los Angeles County.

“Our university must be nimble and flexible in the event that we need to make any further changes to the semester,” Charles F. Zukoski, provost and senior vice president for academic affairs, said in a statement last week. “We need to test our technical capabilities to ensure academic continuity in an online environment should there be a disruption.”

All classes will be online through Friday, but the university will remain fully functional, according to Zukoski. Dorms, dining halls, offices, libraries, health centers, and recreation and athletic facilities will be open as normal.

Officials at USC and UCLA stressed that there are no confirmed cases of the coronavirus, or COVID-19, at either campus.

UCLA Chancellor Gene Block wrote in a message to the campus community that “it is important for communities to look out for one another and to do what is best for our global and UCLA communities.”

Block said university officials have been coordinating with public health officials to develop “plans for every possible scenario.” As a result, beginning Wednesday, the university “will suspend in-person classes wherever possible and transition to online platforms through April 10, which is the end of the second week of Spring Quarter,” Block said.

Winter Quarter final exams will be administered remotely, with individual instructors communicating plans to students, Block said.

Block said the campus will remain open, but “we're transitioning over the next few days to cancel nonessential gatherings of more than 100 people.”

“I know this raises a lot of questions about courses, like performance courses, that are difficult to teach remotely and, for our staff who support campus operations, what their roles will look like,” Block wrote. “We understand there will be questions around many issues. Please be assured that answers and additional information will be forthcoming over the next few days.

“... I know these changes may cause some stress and uncertainty. Please bear with us while we manage this complicated transition.”

Block and UCLA Athletics also announced that attendance at all university athletic home games will be restricted to “essential personnel only,” including athletes, coaches, trainers, medical personnel, game officials, administrative staff and credentialed media. No spectators will be admitted.


Spectators who have pre-purchased tickets were urged to contact the Central Ticket Office.

“UCLA Athletics will continue to follow University of California and UCLA travel guidelines when it comes to team and personnel travel,” according to UCLA Athletics. “At this point in time, teams will continue to practice and compete, however, any student-athlete who does not feel comfortable traveling or participating in team activities will be excused from doing so.”

Block conceded that the coronavirus, or COVID-19, “is clearly going to disrupt and change our schedules, habits and lives for the foreseeable future.”

“This will not be a perfect transition, however, it will not change who we are and what we do. It will also never compromise UCLA's impact in our community and the broader world. How we react and work together in times like these help define who we are, and I have no doubt that the Bruin community will once again rise to the occasion as we transition to our second century.”

Attendance at all USC home athletic events Wednesday through March 29 will be limited to participating athletes, coaches, officials. Other essential personnel as designated by USC Athletics (team personnel, medical team, game management staff), athletes' families, media and USC recruits.

The restrictions also includes USC's open spring football practices, which begin Wednesday.

Fans who have purchased tickets to any affected competition can contact the USC Ticket Office at 213-740-GOSC (4672) with questions.

Three opponents who were scheduled to play at USC this week have canceled their trips to Los Angeles -- North Carolina State women's tennis (Friday), Harvard men's volleyball (Saturday) and Stony Brook women's lacrosse (Sunday).

The measures will be re-evaluated after March 29, according to USC Sports Information Director Tim Tessalone.

UC Irvine also plans to move to online-only courses beginning next week. Final exams will also be administered remotely.

“In limited cases, such as courses involving a lab, studio instruction or clinical experiences, instructors will need to make accommodations to meet the course requirements whether in person or via an alternative delivery mode,” according to a university statement.

Graduate students will switch to remote work “wherever possible.” Students living on the campus are being urged to return to off-campus residences and “if possible, to stay at home during the spring quarter.”

Like other UC campuses, UC Irvine will also cancel all campus events and gatherings of more than 100 participants, and athletic events will be held without spectators.

Whittier College will move to all online classes beginning March 23 and continuing until at least April 3.

Loyola Marymount University will conduct only online classes from March 16-31.

Photos: Getty Images

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