Message to the USC Community
From: Charles F. Zukoski, Provost and Senior Vice President for Academic Affairs
March 13, 2020
Thank you for your resilience and understanding as we adapt to this unprecedented and continually unfolding situation. We are a vibrant, global community with connections all over the world, and your health and safety are paramount. All of the decisions we are making, and will continue to make in the coming days, are focused on your well-being.
Although we have no reported cases of COVID-19 at USC, we have the responsibility to encourage social distancing as a means of preventing the spread of illness. We are taking appropriate steps to mitigate transmission and we are monitoring the rapidly changing circumstances to be responsive to them, and these steps are outlined in this memo.
Throughout this disruptive period, we remain committed to our academic mission and research enterprise. Conducting classes remotely is a different experience for many of us and there will be ongoing adjustments that we need to make. I am grateful to see how well our faculty, students and staff have responded to this challenge and transitioned to online instruction. USC has much experience in delivering online education of quality and excellence, and we will build on this experience as we go forward.
We are currently still planning to resume in-person classes on Tuesday, April 14. With online instruction in place, we are also moving forward with work from home options for staff from March 16 through Monday, April 13. However, this is a public health crisis that is evolving rapidly and we may need to alter these dates in the coming days or weeks based on guidance from health and government officials. While we still hope to gather at the end of the semester to celebrate commencement, we will continue to provide frequent updates on all these matters.
Please check your email frequently and refer to our coronavirus website for the latest updates and official messages. For questions, please contact our COVID-19 hotline: 213-740-6291, or email: firstname.lastname@example.org.
Teams from across the university have been working tirelessly with speed and dedication to develop policies that protect you and enable continuity of our mission. Information follows below. Thank you again.
For undergraduate instruction
- Academic progress will continue, courses will be completed, and students currently on track to graduate this term will be able to graduate this term if they complete their courses satisfactorily as usual.
- All classes have transitioned to online instruction and are being conducted remotely through Monday, April 13.
- As of now, we plan to resume in-person classes on Tuesday, April 14.
- We will notify you as soon as possible should these dates change. We appreciate your being flexible; please check for frequent updates and date changes.
- We have a 24/7 helpline available for our students, parents, faculty and staff to answer questions and if needed, connect them to the appropriate department: 213-740-6291.
For master’s, professional, and Ph.D. students
- Academic progress will continue, courses will be completed, and students on track to graduate will be able to graduate this term if they complete their work satisfactorily as usual.
- All lectures and seminars will be conducted remotely through Monday, April 13.
- Graduate students who are working in research labs and on other research projects as a requirement for their degree may continue to do so as long as appropriate social distancing and good hygiene can be maintained. This is in accordance with professional standards and practices. Some buildings will not be open to the public during this time, but will be accessible to you with your key-card.
- Please check with your supervisor and department chair or dean, as appropriate.
- The health sciences schools’ missions will continue uninterrupted. Given that portions of the learning environment are in clinical, hands-on settings, we plan on proceeding with clinical activities. Information about clinical experiences will be handled separately by the schools, and details will be provided in separate communications by the deans. Heightened protocols will be implemented, aimed at ensuring the safety of our students, patients, faculty and staff.
- For all research-related questions, please refer to Novel Coronavirus (COVID-19) Research-Related Updates from the Office of Research.
For international students
- The decision whether to return to your home country is a personal one and should be considered carefully, in consultation with family when possible. We want you to be where you will feel most comfortable in the coming weeks.
- If you choose to return to your home country, check in with the Office of International Services beforehand at 213-740-2666 or email@example.com to discuss your visa status.
- In the event you cannot return to USC from your home country, your academic program will assess your options. We are committed to supporting your academic progress.
- Any international students who need to remain in their on-campus housing will continue to receive appropriate accommodations, dining, student health and safety services.
- Please keep in mind that international travel is in a fluid state, and new travel restrictions could arise at any moment.
For staff and student workers
- Throughout the rapid advance of this situation, the Human Resources team has worked on building comprehensive work from home guidelines from the ground up.
- With online instruction for our students now in place, we will move forward with work from home options for staff from Monday, March 16 through Monday, April 13. Our HR Partners are equipped with guidelines, policies and ongoing education that inform a consistent university approach to best serve our employees.
- For those staff and student workers whose work cannot be performed from home, the university will allow a minimum of two weeks (10 days) of paid administrative leave, which will be re-evaluated as the situation continues to evolve.
- We will continue addressing pressing employee questions and will consistently update the employee FAQ on the USC COVID-19 website.
- Thank you to our faculty for responding so quickly to getting our classes online. Please take the next week to hone your skills in delivering your courses and office hours online. The Center for Excellence in Teaching has resources to help.
- We also ask that you keep in contact with your students as your plans for assignments change.
- Research and mentoring of Ph.D. students can continue and should be conducted remotely when possible.
- You also will continue to be able to work in your campus office/lab/studio even as many of these facilities will be closed to the public due to the need for social distancing. These buildings will continue to be serviced.
- Faculty should address questions to their chair and dean as appropriate.
- In the interest of public health, students are expected to vacate on-campus housing starting with Spring Recess, on Saturday, March 14, and not to return until Monday, April 13. This will mitigate potential transmission of the virus by those who may have been exposed either while traveling or at home.
- Any student who is unable to leave USC Housing will be allowed to remain on campus following a notification to firstname.lastname@example.org.
- Students should take all necessary items for studying with them, as well as any other items that they may need while away. Belongings may be left in locked dorm rooms, and students do not need to move all of their things out at this time.
- If a student remains on campus, security, food and health services will be provided. The fitness centers will not be open. The guest policy for USC Housing will be suspended until April 14, and only students who live in an assigned building will be able to access their respective buildings. Please check campus websites such as USC Hospitality and USC Libraries for any potential changes to operating hours or services.
- We are developing a plan for the period following Spring Recess. The university plans to issue a pro-rata refund or credit for housing and dining fees but we have not yet worked out the details or the process. We will announce further details later this semester and appreciate your patience as we develop the process and guidelines.
- All university-sponsored, on and off campus events that are scheduled through April 12 will be cancelled or postponed.
- The Pac-12 (as well as other Power 5 conferences) have announced the cancellation of all athletics competitions until further notice, and the NCAA announced the cancellation of all winter and spring championships.
- The USC Athletics department has suspended all practices, camps and clinics, as well as all on and off campus recruiting and recruiting-related travel, until further notice.
- The Athletics department will continue communicating directly with student athletes in the coming days and weeks.
- All other sports and fitness facilities are closed to the general public until further notice.
- We have asked study abroad students in CDC Level 3 countries to return home. Any USC students abroad in any location may return voluntarily at any time, and we will work with those students to minimize the disruption of their degree progress.
- All domestic and international university-related, non-essential travel for students, faculty, and staff – except for the purpose of students returning home – is suspended until April 12.
cc: Office of the President
President’s Senior Leadership Team
Provost’s Leadership Team