USC is extending its period of online classes to Tuesday, April 14 in light of concerns over COVID-19, the university wrote in a statement Wednesday night.
This update came after the USC community was informed Tuesday that classes would continue to be taught through remote instruction after spring break through March 30. Students were originally encouraged not to return to campus after the break.
The latest announcement stated that students who are planning to leave the campus during spring break “may not be allowed to return until at least Monday, April 13.”
“All of our decisions are intended to ensure the health and safety of our USC and broader community, especially in light of the World Health Organization’s announcement today classifying COVID-19 as a worldwide pandemic," the email read.
Provost Charles Zukoski said in an interview with Annenberg Media that the decisions are meant to protect students, faculty, staff and the community from the spread of the coronavirus.
“What we are worrying about is students who are going to leave and go to all parts of the country, if not abroad. We are concerned about bringing them back to campus,” he said. “We are asking the students not to come back until we understand this public health crisis in more detail.”
Zukoski said the university will be open and functional, but no courses, including labs, will be taught in person.
“All of the courses at the undergraduate-level and almost of all graduate-level will be delivered online,” he said. “We are worried about the density of the people and the mechanism of spreading the disease.”
Zukoski said the university recognizes the challenge that many students, especially international students, can not go home. USC will send another email in 24 hours that includes more information about the process for students who have no place to go to stay in on-campus housing, according to the provost.
“You essentially need to apply to stay. You need to let us know you can’t go anywhere,” he said. “There will be dorm, and there will be food. We just have to figure those details out. We have not figured them out yet.”
Zukoski confirmed that the campus will be open and people can still visit during the remote instruction period.
For students who currently live on campus, only those who go through the application process will be allowed to freely enter and leave their dorm during this period of online classes. The example Zukoski provided to explain the functions of the process was that if “you are living on campus and you want to go to Santa Monica for like a day,” then students would be able to return to USC.
Two hours after this story was published, the Provost’s office reached out to Annenberg Media to clarify the process. Students do not actually need to submit a full application to remain in campus housing, the office said. Instead, they just need to let the university know that they are staying in USC housing. The Provost’s office said students won’t be asked to leave their dorms or be blocked from returning to on-campus housing. In simpler terms, the university viewpoint is that if students leave for Spring Break, officials want them to stay away and take their classes online.
“Please note that these dates may be adjusted again as circumstances change and if so, we will do everything we can to give you as much notice as possible,” the university email read.
The Provost Office said more details will be included in a university-wide memo that will be sent Thursday.
Update on 10:06 p.m. March 11, 2020: The story has been updated with the Provost Office’s clarification about staying on-campus housing during the remote class time.