USC plans in-person return for fall, increased access to facilities for spring

USC is planning for a full return to campus life for Fall 2021 including in-person classes and residential life, according to a Universitywide email sent by President Carol Folt Friday. Folt said that planning for protective measures such as a campus vaccination operation, testing program and physical distancing measures as well as classroom and outdoor facility reconfiguration is already underway.

“Given the decline in cases and the vaccine rollout, we are planning for a full return to campus for the Fall semester, with in-person classes and residential life,” Folt wrote.

The email cited a decline of more than 80% of new coronavirus cases from the mid-December peak along with the decrease of hospitalization cases. Los Angeles County recorded 2,873 new cases Thursday. As of Friday, more than 1.6 million vaccine doses have been administered. Vaccines are currently in short supply but are expected to improve over the next few weeks, according to the email.

While USC does not expect to get approval for in-person classes this semester, facilities such as the libraries, swimming pools, outdoor recreation areas and study canopies will be open at a reduced capacity. The USC bookstore opened this week for appointment shopping. 

The University is also currently developing plans for commencement and considering options such as using the Los Angeles Memorial Coliseum for an in-person event with limited guests along with an immersive virtual celebration. These plans include the class of 2020 and will be updated mid-March. 

“With conditions improving and vaccine distribution now being ramped up, many of us are feeling a sense of hope about this pandemic that we haven’t felt for a long time.” Folt wrote in the email. “We are cautiously optimistic and are doing everything to make sure our plans for a return are fully realized.”