Students encouraged to leave USC campuses

Students are encouraged to refrain from returning to USC through April 13 should they leave campus during spring break, following the University’s decision to extend remote instruction to April 14, Provost Charles Zukoski announced in a schoolwide email Wednesday. USC has announced this move alongside other universities around the country that continue to move online to mitigate the spread of coronavirus. 

USC asked students to leave University-owned housing for spring break and not return for the next month, Zukoski said in an interview with the Daily Trojan; however, the University has not yet announced an exact move-out date. USC will allow students to remain in their current living spaces after they notify USC Housing, the University said. This accommodation is intended for students who are unable to return home, including those who are affected by travel restrictions, and students experiencing homelessness.

“There are lots of caveats there that we have to work on because there are many students who have nowhere to go,” Zukoski told the Daily Trojan. “International students have nowhere to go, and so we will have dorms that are open.”

According to Zukoski, online instruction may be extended through the end of the semester. USC will continue to monitor the situation as it develops. 

“We’re encouraging all students — in fact, we’re telling all students who can leave — that we would like them out of the dorms,” Zukoski said in the interview. 

Apurvi Bhartia, a sophomore majoring in economics, said she wanted the administration to tell international students what to do in case they went home and were unable to return to the U.S.  

“I want the administration to specifically adjust what international students should do in this case,” Bhartia said. “Just not knowing what’s going to happen in the next one week, especially where [I am] going to live, and in case I’m going back and not coming [back].That means that I have to move out right now. Moving out right now means taking all my stuff and putting it in storage … I don’t even have flight tickets booked. I think the whole atmosphere is that of anxiety.”

This update follows Tuesday’s announcement that classes would remain online through March 29 following spring break — a period that has now been extended by two weeks. Students are currently undergoing a three-day trial meant to ease the transition to online classes. Faculty and administrators will evaluate the digital procedures over spring break and adjust accordingly.

The extended period of remote instruction is an attempt to slow the spread of coronavirus by reducing the number of people on campus who may transmit the illness, Zukoski said. 

“All of our decisions are intended to ensure the health and safety of our USC and broader community, especially in light of the World Health Organization’s announcement today classifying COVID-19 as a worldwide pandemic,” the email read. “Please note that these dates may be adjusted again as circumstances change and if so, we will do everything we can to give you as much notice as possible.”

Vicky Ma, a sophomore majoring in business administration, said the new policy was a good preventative measure, but unless USC found a way to monitor students, they would be unable to keep track of those who traveled to other places. 

“I think it’s a good way to protect students but it is kind of tricky, because [the] school won’t know who [will] go to other places and come back,” Ma said. “I think that’s a problem. I feel like they need to find a way to monitor the students.” 

Erin Moore, a professor of anthropology, said professors received the email announcing the extension of classes at the same time as the rest of the community. However, she said the University has kept the community updated by sending emails every hour regarding safety, training and coronavirus updates. 

“I, as a faculty member, get once an hour or more …  a new communiqué from the University,” Moore said. “I think as fast as they’re finding out information, they’re passing it on.”

The University is making adjustments as necessary as circumstances continue to change. USC said it will release more information in the next 24 hours.

Twesha Dikshit, Maria Eberhart, Lauren Mattice, Shaylee Navarro, Kate Sequeira and Sarah Yaacoub contributed to this report.

Editor’s note: This article was updated March 11 at 8:25 p.m. to clarify the circumstances under which students may remain on campus.

This article was updated to include interviews from faculty