As California fully reopens its economy, USC is relaxing outdoor masking, physical distancing and Trojan Check requirements but waiting for additional guidance before further loosening restrictions, Chief Health Officer Dr. Sarah Van Orman said in a student media briefing Friday.
The University will issue new guidance in the next few weeks based on California Division of Occupational Safety and Health, state and county guidelines, Van Orman said. The CAL/OSHA guidelines are currently the strictest of the three, recommending that all employees continue wearing masks while the state recommends that only workers who are unvaccinated need to wear masks. As the University must follow all these requirements, much of the campus — particularly employees — will remain masked until further guidance.
“We’re subject to all of these requirements, so in essence, we have to follow the [guidelines] that are the strictest,” Van Orman said. “So prior to this, if the county were stricter, we would have to follow that.”.
As USC prepares guidelines for the summer and upcoming semester, Van Orman said that the University will continue to push vaccinations and encourages students to upload their proofs of vaccinations.
“There’s a lot we can do as a campus if we know that we have community immunity … The big push right now is we need everyone to get vaccinated if they’re not, and submit their vaccine status so that we can say confidently to people, ‘When you come to USC, 89.2% of people are vaccinated,’” Van Orman said.
In line with event capacity guidelines, the University announced that the Los Angeles Memorial Coliseum will fully reopen in the fall. While full capacity is permitted for indoor and outdoor events, “mega events,” which have capacities upwards of 5,000 people for indoor events and 10,000 people for outdoor events, may still require proof of vaccination or a recent negative coronavirus test, Van Orman said.
As University officials plan reopening guidelines with the new regulations in mind, USC is expected to return toward normalcy, recovering from a pandemic that killed hundreds of Los Angeles residents every day just a few months ago. Remembering countless conversations with employees and students who have lost family members, Van Orman feels relief but urges caution.
“I’m proud of the team here who’s really focused first and foremost on keeping people safe, keeping our employees and our students safe,” Van Orman said. “Now to think we’re going to be able to come back to normal — it’s really exciting. Get your vaccine, please get your vaccine.”