USC announces phased approach to reopening campus

The Office of the Provost detailed several health measures the university is taking to ensure the safety of the community.

In an email to the community, Provost Charles Zukoski shared the steps the university plans to take to protect the well-being of students, staff, faculty and the surrounding community once the campus is reopened. 

The university has been working with LA County officials and local healthcare experts to guarantee the university is taking the appropriate precautions. USC is on Phase 2 of a four-phased plan to eventually make campus fully operational. In addition, each school has been asked to submit a plan for its own phased return that must adhere to the university’s guidelines and must be approved by the university.

Faculty and staff are still required to work remotely unless instructed otherwise. 

Faculty members on Thursday asked Zukowski via Zoom about how people who do not want to return to campus will be treated, according to someone who attended the meeting. People on the call shared with the provost their concerns that older and more vulnerable faculty members could face punishment or even firing if they preferred to stay home. 

The email stated that students, faculty and staff members will need to complete a Health, Hygiene and Safety training module on TrojanLearn before returning to campus. The module covers hygiene, distancing and illness reporting protocols and requires each person to sign “an attestation committing to follow the protocols the University is putting in place.” In addition, students, faculty and staff will have to complete a brief wellness assessment, known as a Trojan Check, before entering campus each day.

Any person returning to USC from another country will be required to quarantine for 14 days before returning to campus. Testing for COVID-19 will be provided for employees and students if they develop symptoms or are exposed to the virus. Employees, visitors and students who test positive will be required to notify the university for contact tracing. USC will track rates of infection online and notify groups who may need testing.

The university said it will provide lodging to students both on and off campus who become sick or exposed to the virus. Isolation lodging will also be available for faculty and staff who cannot quarantine safely at home.

USC is reconfiguring facilities to allow six feet of space between individuals and is planning to install barriers in any workspace that requires face-to-face interaction or less than six feet of distance between people. Many buildings will not be at full occupancy. 

The university will increase the amount of outside air in buildings when possible, and will run all centrally controlled heating and air conditioning two hours before and two hours after the building is inhabited.

In addition to its previous requirement of anyone on campus wearing a face covering, the university created an online portal for departments to provide students, faculty and staff with face coverings and Personal Protective Equipment.

The university will transition through each phase based on the spread of COVID-19 in Los Angeles and government guidelines.