Fall Semester Update from Provost Zukoski and David Wright

August 5, 2020

Greetings Trojan Community,

Last month, we announced we would deliver the vast majority of our Fall classes online, with only 10-20 percent of instruction held in-person or in a hybrid modality, due to the progression of COVID-19 cases in Los Angeles County, and we encouraged students to study from home in the fall semester. When we made that announcement, we expected that we would receive permission from state and county health officials to open in that manner. Unfortunately, with the start of classes less than two weeks away on August 17, we do not yet have clearance from the state or county to move forward with classroom instruction. Given the delay in receiving the required permission, we have made the difficult decision to begin the Fall semester with fully remote instruction with limited exceptions for clinical education.

Over the past few months, we have retrofitted our campus and put numerous safety protocols in place for the return of our students. As soon as public health regulations allow, we will be ready to pivot quickly to select in-person and hybrid instruction and other on-campus activities.

Those of you who are currently registered for in-person or hybrid classes will receive an update from your school or academic unit shortly.

In the meantime, we want to address several important points:

USC Housing: We have not received permission from Los Angeles County to resume residential life. We are currently working to support students who are at risk should they be unable to reside on campus. If you have a current contract or application for USC Housing and believe you are in such a situation, we ask that you contact our Residential Education team as soon as possible through this form. Please summarize your situation in two to three paragraphs, and our teams will do everything they reasonably can to work out a solution within two business days.

For all others, we ask that you delay your return to campus until the county has given permission for residential housing. We will continue to refund any and all fees for those who wish to cancel their fall housing contracts or applications and will provide more information when it is available. We are also continuing to seek permission to accommodate students with housing contracts who have in-person classes. Please note that current residents in USC student housing are not affected and may remain in place.

Private Off-Campus Leases: The University has met with landlords who own or manage properties around our campuses to discuss lease policies and encourage COVID-19 safety best practices. Collectively, these landlords own or manage more than 16,000 beds for our students, and while many of them have been receptive to working with the University on incorporating health and safety standards and best practices, most, unfortunately, have not expressed a willingness to be flexible with the terms of their leases. We have developed a series of FAQs that outline more details and resources.

Research activities: Research activities will remain in Phase 2 at their current level – 30 percent of capacity – with important guidelines in place to ensure health and safety.

Clinical education: Clinical education, too, will remain at current levels on our University Park and Health Sciences campuses.

We know the lack of certainty has been frustrating for many of you, as well as our own teams, who keep planning and then re-planning for the 2020 Fall semester. But from the start, we made the decision to stay flexible so we could offer an exciting, fulfilling experience this Fall, regardless of uncertain and changing health guidance. The truth is the pandemic is not going away any time soon, and we must adapt to the changing conditions and continue to hold the health and safety of our USC community paramount.

Over the summer we have worked diligently to prepare for your return to classes. Over 50 events are scheduled from now through the end of August, designed to engage students of many interests, backgrounds, passions, and tastes. These include the new student Welcome Experience, opportunities for transfer students, open houses at individual schools and centers, job skills workshops, and roundtable discussions.

As previously announced, students who require additional resources to successfully participate in classes, such as a laptop or internet hotspot, may be eligible for the University’s equipment rental program. You can apply for that support here.

Against a backdrop of global uncertainty brought on by the pandemic, the 8,000 classes being offered this semester will ensure you receive a world-class education that equips you with the skills and experience to succeed in a world that is likely to remain unpredictable and fast-changing for the foreseeable future.

Thank you again for your patience and flexibility. We will continue to update you frequently as the health guidance in California evolves.

Please visit we-are.usc.edu for more information on the Fall semester. For questions relating to COVID-19, email covid19@usc.edu or call 213-740-6291.

Stay safe and well,

Charles F. Zukoski, Provost and Senior Vice President for Academic Affairs

David Wright, Senior Vice President, Administration