USC Backs Off Plan For Fall In-Person Classes, Citing Spike in COVID-19

LOS ANGELES (CNS) - Reversing course from an announcement made one month ago, USC officials now say undergraduate fall courses will primarily remain online during the fall semester.

“Public health guidelines continue to change, and Los Angeles County has yet to approve our plans for returning to full campus operations,'' according to a joint letter released Wednesday night by USC Provost Charles F. Zukoski and Senior Vice President of Administration David Wright. “Los Angeles is experiencing an alarming spike in coronavirus cases, making it clear we need to dramatically reduce our on-campus density and all indoor activities for the fall semester.''

On June 3, USC President Carol Folt announced that in-person classes would resume for the fall semester, with the university planning classes beginning Aug. 17 and ending before Thanksgiving, with no fall break. The university planned to implement a series of safety measures, including mandatory face coverings, daily symptom checks and physical markers to ensure social distancing.

But Zukoski and Wright said in their Wednesday letter that given rising coronavirus cases and stepped-up restrictions issued this week by Gov. Gavin Newsom restricting indoor business activities, the university has changed course.

“Given the continuing safety restrictions and limited densities permissible on campus, our undergraduate students primarily or exclusively will be taking their courses online in the fall term, and on-campus housing and activities will be limited,'' according to their announcement. “While not what we hoped, we are now recommending all undergraduates take their courses online, and reconsider living on or close to campus this semester. We are continuing with limited in-person, on-campus activity because we believe we can keep students, researchers, staff, and faculty safe with our low-density plan.''

A revised class scheduled is expected to be made available by next Wednesday, with the majority of undergraduate courses available solely online, but some offered in a “hybrid'' format of in-person and online sessions. Zukoski and Wright said 10% to 20% of classes will be conducted in-person.

“These will be primarily face-to-face labs, studios, performance, and other courses involving hands-on work, and independent research studies that require facilities and equipment only available on campus,'' according to the announcement. “Even these courses, for the most part, will also be available online this semester.''

Photo: Getty Images

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