USC, which will resume in-person classes in August, announced Monday some of the safety guidelines it plans to implement to help prevent the spread of coronavirus on campus.
USC Chief Health Officer Sarah Van Orman and Student Affairs Vice President Winston B. Crisp sent a letter addressed to students and families that shared details about how health, safety and wellbeing will be maintained during the fall semester, which starts Aug. 17 — a week earlier than originally planned — and ends before Thanksgiving, with no fall break.
“Our decisions for the fall semester require we remain nimble especially as COVID-19 cases in Southern California continue to rise,” they wrote, later stating: “Students should consider whether being in a campus environment in the city of Los Angeles is right for them this semester.”
The following health measures are planned for the fall:
— daily symptom checks, to be completed online through trojancheck.usc.edu and required for anyone entering campus, including daily checks for students residing in USC Housing;
— reconfigured campus housing with all rooms to be single occupancy;
— physical distancing markers, reconfiguration of pedestrian traffic flow, and timed entrances for appointments to facilities;
— hand sanitizing stations;
— required face coverings;
— a contact tracing team of health professionals in USC Student Health to identify, notify, trace and isolate positive cases;
— regular testing for COVID-19, includes clinical testing for symptomatic and exposed students, faculty and staff on campuses as well as randomized community testing; and
— limited class sizes to maintain physical distance.
University officials said they expect cases and outbreaks to occur, and they are asking that all students have “honest and thoughtful conversations about their personal health and wellbeing” with their families and personal support networks to decide whether returning to campus life is right for them.
Students with high-risk medical conditions, such as underlying medical conditions, also should discuss their health with their current provider, according to the university.
“When the inevitable cases of COVID-19 occur, individuals who are exposed will be required to quarantine for 14 days and those who are ill will be required to isolate for a minimum of 10 days and sometimes longer,” USC officials stated. “While USC is prepared to provide support through dedicated accommodations and regular check-ins, quarantine and isolation may be difficult for many students. Students should consider this impact when deciding to return.”
Students also will be asked to complete a “Health, Hygiene and Safety” online training and show proof of their required immunizations, as well as a tuberculosis test for international students, and commit to getting a flu shot in the fall.
Most courses at USC will be available online, others may be classified as in-person or a hybrid, with university officials stating that remote learning will allow students to continue their progress toward a degree while remaining geographically remote.
“Campus life will be different this fall,” officials wrote. “Students will need to limit the number of close contact exposures and avoid congregating with many friends at a time. Person-to-person contact poses the greatest risk of spreading infection. Large social gatherings will be strictly prohibited.”
USC is mandating compliance with public health measures for all on campus.
“To prevent widespread infections and possible campus closure, all students must play a role and take these measures seriously,” the university stated. “Students who put others at risk by violating these expectations will be subject to action that may lead to removal from campus. Coming to campus this fall is a community social contract, built on the trust and expectation that you and all other students, will make the health and safety of your fellow Trojans your top priority in all your actions — every member of our community, their families and loved ones, are counting on each of us to keep them safe as we interact on campus.”