USC announces campus openings as L.A. County shifts to red tier

University will “strongly encourage” but not require vaccinations for in-person fall 2021 return.

With COVID-19 cases declining in Los Angeles, USC is hopeful that students will transition back to in-person classes for the fall 2021 semester, Provost Charles Zukoski announced in an email to the USC community on March 23. The email detailed a series of expanded guidelines and updates for the summer, fall and remainder of the spring terms.

Classes will remain online for the rest of the spring 2021 semester, however, they are anticipated to move back in person for the fall.

“The expectation is that the vast majority of classes will be in person [during fall 2021] but that again depends on what the physical distancing rules are that the county gives us,” Zukoski said.

Zukoski also said the university is not requiring students to receive the COVID-19 vaccination to be on campus, but “strongly encourages it.”

For the rest of the spring term, students will have expanded access to on-campus research and intramural sports.

Research activity will be moved from 50% student capacity to 100% capacity while continuing to follow CDC guidelines like mask-wearing and physical distancing. Outdoor intramural sports are resuming next week for students near campus. Available sports will include outdoor basketball, football, soccer and cornhole.

Summer courses will see changes such as reopening residence halls and fitness centers, as well as laboratories at reduced capacity. USC expects to continue providing remote instruction for summer session I (May 19 to June 29), however, they are planning to resume some in-person classes for summer session II (June 30 - August 10).

“We are very excited about the opening up of the community and the campus, and we are looking forward to getting students back on campus and interacting with other students and faculty and staff,” Zukoski said. “That this is something that is just fabulously good for us all.”

USC will also extend the Pass/No Pass grading option for summer 2021 courses. The degree unit limit for Pass/No Pass has been raised from 24 to 32 units.

Regarding tuition, Zukoski said there will be a 2% tuition increase for the 2021-2022 academic year. The email says it is the lowest year-over-year increment since 1967, in line with inflation.

“We are doing that because that’s how we think it’s best to keep delivering quality education and keep up with our cost increases,” Zukoski said.

The university also announced that more than $400 million of its own funding will continue to go towards financial aid, which will benefit approximately two-thirds of undergraduate students.

The majority of this planning is tentative and is subject to change based on COVID-19 cases and developments. For that reason, university officials warn students to not let their guard down.

“While we are planning for this incredible wave of people getting back on campus and the joy associated with that, let’s get there by being cautious,” Zukoski said.