USC will resume in-person classes this fall, according to a statement from USC President Carol Folt Tuesday. This upcoming semester will start on Aug. 17, a week earlier than originally scheduled.
The fall semester will conclude before Thanksgiving break in effort to minimize the spread of coronavirus amidst the start of the flu season. Many other universities, including Michigan State University and Notre Dame, have also elected to end their fall semester before the Thanksgiving holiday.
“Please understand that these plans remain contingent on several factors, including the continued spread of COVID-19, and the health orders from state and local authorities,” Folt stated in the email. “So, things could change, but we are excited to move forward and to have [the students] back.”
Almost all classes will contain an online component. This allows flexibility for faculty and students who choose not to return to campus—and leaves room for a full transition to online learning should California stay-at-home orders be reinstated. About 250 general use classrooms have been upgraded to permit “simultaneous lecture capture and teaching via Zoom,” according to the statement.
Students who choose to return to USC this fall will be required to wear a face covering while on campus. Plans to comply with physical distancing requirements for classrooms, offices and other campus locations such as on-campus residential halls locations are in the works as well. On-campus dining locations will expand its take-out options and the amount of people in a room will be reduced. The university is also developing required training sessions for faculty, students and staff to complete at home before returning.
The email also said failure to follow the health and safety requirements will result in disciplinary actions.
Locations that will be affected include classrooms, offices and other campus areas such as residential halls and on-campus dining halls.
All of USC’s Welcome Experience programs, such as Welcome Week, will begin Aug. 10 remotely for incoming students. There may be some smaller in-person activities hosted.
“Even in this difficult situation, we are committed to building educational experiences that are engaging and of exceptional quality,” the email stated. “A successful and safe academic year will only be possible if each of us looks out for the health of our fellow Trojans and community neighbors and partners.”
Folt did not provide insight about when and if sports can make a return. The Pac-12 and NCAA allow for in-person voluntary return to workouts on June 15, but USC has not yet made a decision about when Trojan athletes can return to campus.