USC students can expect to show their student ID to get in the library and on campus during evening hours, but now students may need to show another “pass” in order to get to class.
USC Student Health is currently testing a COVID-19 symptom tracker with its employees, using a web-based survey called “Trojan Check,” in hopes of officially rolling out the system in the fall. Trojan Check is an effort to minimize the virus’ spread on USC’s campus. It works like this:
Students mark their symptoms and exposure daily. If they are not experiencing any symptoms or known exposure, the site will show a confirmation page with a QR code to confirm the individual is cleared to go on to campus. If the student marks symptoms like a sore throat or fever, the site would suggest that the student stay home and would not offer a cleared QR code for the individual to get on campus.
The data collected will allow USC Student Health to know which areas of campus are being exposed. Personal names will not be traced, as the data is de-identified for privacy concerns. However, the data will be collected in aggregate, meaning Student Health can see, for example, 15% of people in Dornsife are sick today and only 5% of people in Viterbi.
USC Chief Health Officer Sarah Van Orman explained the importance of having this information when the school reopens for the Fall semester.
“I could never go back in and say, ‘I trace it back to this person,’ but what it would allow me to do is to sort of keep an eye on where we might have people getting sick on campus,” said Van Orman.
Having students track their symptoms is in replacement for temperature checks, except for at a few higher-risk locations like the Student Health Center and the Department of Public Safety, which will have temperature check stations. Van Orman said temperature checks are not all that helpful, as a fever is only one of several known symptoms and puts the individual checking temperatures at risk of exposure.
While some may be concerned about the accuracy of self-reported information, Van Orman assured that the questions were carefully selected with the advice of Keck’s epidemiologists and infectious disease experts. Additionally, Van Orman encouraged students and faculty to err on the side of staying home.
“We are really trying to create an environment in the next several months where people, who have that feeling [of ‘am I getting sick?’], stay at home,” she said.
She acknowledged the adjustment this may take for students who typically attend class with mild sickness. In previous semesters, many professors have only allowed up to two sick days for students, as outlined class syllabi. However, a shift toward staying home when only vaguely sick is a very welcomed change of pace.
“The mentality has always been if I’m able to go to class I’m going to go unless I’m feeling super, super sick," said Miles Kay, a rising senior and mechanical engineering major. "Many professors do penalize not being in class whether that’s in-class assignments or pop quizzes.”
He is hopeful that professors will use their course evaluations from this past online semester to implement some changes. All classes will offer an online component as announced in President Carol Folt’s email to students on June 2.
Recognizing the advantages of in-person learning, Kay suggests that “rather than timed quizzes, some professors just open up [the quiz] for 24 hours or give a longer slot of time to alleviate some of the pressure of bad wifi or different time zones from those who can’t be in-person.”
Trojan Check is currently only being used by university employees. Updates will be reported as they are released.