In-Person Classes at USC to Resume in August


USC will resume in-person classes beginning in August according to a letter posted by the USC President, Carol Folt.

Folt says the new fall semester for students will begin Aug. 17 - one week earlier than previously scheduled - and run through Thanksgiving. Social-distancing protocols will be in place on campus as part of the university's efforts to protect students during the COVID-19 pandemic.

"To support this schedule, we will not have a fall break in 2020,'' Folt said in the letter.

"Please understand that these plans remain contingent on several factors, including the continued spread of COVID-19, and the health orders from state and local authorities. So, things could change.''

The decision to resume classes in August came after university officials consulted a wide-array of experts and colleagues, faculty, students, staff, alumni and donors to help understand the issues facing students when they return to campus.

"Our health and safety procedures will be guided by the L.A. County Department of Health, and our own internal Health Policy leadership team, and will be focused on safeguarding individuals and the community,'' Folt said.

A "Trojans Return" website will be set up over the next few weeks to help keep students abreast of the most pertinent information.

Among the steps taken by USC to protect students include:

  • Almost every in-person class will also be offered online to provide more flexibility to students and faculty;
  • A number of different types of courses; some will have a mixture of online and in-person modalities, such as online large lectures, in-person discussions and labs; some may be fully in-person such as dance; and others could be fully online;
  • Students who may not be able to attend in-person classes will be given the online support needed to continue their coursework online and remotely;
  • Resources have been deployed in schools and in the Center for Excellence in Teaching to enable faculty to re-imagine and implement their courses in the physically distanced environment and online, including upgrading approximately 250 general-use classrooms to enable simultaneous lectures and teaching via Zoom;
  • Orientation programs and activities to begin the week of Aug. 10 and conducted online for all new incoming students and if possible, with some smaller, in-person events;
  • Information about move-in dates housing and registration will follow soon;
  • Graduate and professional programs are developing calendars to meet their specific needs, which may differ from central university-wide orientations and programming;
  • Classrooms, offices and other campus spaces are being reconfigured to accommodate physical-distancing requirements;
  • Residence halls and on-campus dining facilities will be modified to reduce density and contact; take-out dining options will be expanded, and the number of students to a room will be reduced;
  • Traffic flow and pedestrian walkways will be marked to limit congestion;
  • Cleaning and sanitation of buildings, classes and public spaces will be done frequently and according to strict protocols and health and safety guidelines;
  • The testing and contact tracing protocols being followed on campus will be expanded and enhanced during the fall semester to include returning staff, faculty and students;
  • The wearing of face coverings and physical distancing is mandatory;
  • Failure to follow these requirements and any others determined necessary to protect the health, safety and well-being of the entire community will lead to disciplinary actions.
  • USC Athletics will follow the guidance of government officials, Pac-12, NCAA and the university on when and how athletes can return to campus;
  • The Pac-12 Conference has allowed for voluntary in-person athletic workouts for all sports to begin June 15; however, each school will determine how this works on its campus; no decisions have been made at USC.

"For the plan to succeed, our entire community must be part of the solution,'' Folt said. "Trojans caring for Trojans and for our neighbors.

"Each member of our community will be asked to agree in writing to follow campus and public health policies and guidelines, if they wish to return to campus activities.

"We are also developing required educational training sessions for our faculty, students, and staff to take at home before returning to campus," Folt added. "I am confident that with the participation of you all, we will be able to return safely.''

Should there be a surge of coronavirus infections before the planned return in August, the university will provide more information in the coming weeks, Folt said.

Photo: Getty Images

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