USC announced new guidelines, protocols and considerations for the return to campus this fall in an email to the university Monday. USC Student Health acknowledged that there will be cases and outbreaks and the focus is on limiting and tracking exposure.
“Cases and outbreaks are expected to occur,” the email stated. “All students should have honest and thoughtful conversations about their personal health and well-being with their families and/or personal support networks in order to decide whether any sort of campus-return is right for them.”
The university said the greatest risk of transmission is prolonged person-to-person exposure. Due to that concern, all rooms in USC Housing will be limited to single occupancy.
The decision for single occupancy rooms was also made in consideration of quarantine requirements.
“It’s likely that if anyone gets sick on that floor we’re going to consider the entire kind of ‘bathroom group’ exposed,” Van Orman said in an interview last week.
Bathroom groups are made up of those who share the same bathroom, which in residential halls is often residents living on the same floor. By reducing the number of students living on a floor, the University cuts in half the size of the group that needs to quarantine.
“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,” the email stated.
In-person classes will be limited in size to accommodate a six feet distance between each student. The decision was made with the guidance of L.A. County.
“Right now we believe the [L.A. County] guideline [for gatherings] is going to be 100,” Van Orman said. However, “the reality is if you look at most of our instructional spaces, it’s not going to be 100 people… even our largest of our lecture halls are probably closer to 30 or 40 [students] with physical distancing.”
According to USC’s facts and figures for the 2019-20 academic calendar, international students make up just over a quarter of USC’s student population. Anyone traveling to campus from outside the U.S. will be required to self-quarantine for at least 14 days.
USC stated that large social gatherings will be strictly prohibited. Further guidelines regarding the university’s plans for events and programs will be released soon.
“We are currently working on a number of exciting extracurricular, professional, and cultural programs, initiatives and events to keep students engaged and thriving — intellectually, socially and emotionally,” the email read.
All decisions made by the University are in accordance with the L.A. County guidelines and are subject to evolve.