USC planning to reopen COVID-closed campus classes in fall

LOS ANGELES (AP) — The University of Southern California expects to reopen campuses this fall, joining the state’s major public universities in planning to resume on-campus life that was curtailed by the coronavirus outbreak.

“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,” USC President Carol L. Folt wrote in a online letter to students and their families Friday. “We are cautiously optimistic and are doing everything to make sure our plans for a return are fully realized.”

Folt noted that the number of new COVID-19 cases locally has dropped sharply.

USC and other universities nationwide were forced to switch to online learning last March because of the pandemic.

Last month, the University of California announced plans to return to primarily in-person instruction at its 10 campuses this fall. California State University has plans to resume in-person classes at its 23 campuses if conditions permit.

In her message, Folt said USC is working on safety plans for a fall reopening. They include a campus vaccination program that could handle 1,200 shots per week when the supply becomes available, along with testing programs and social distancing measures.

Folt said the school didn’t expect to receive permission from Los Angeles County health officials to reopen in-person classes for the spring semester but did expect updated health guidelines allowing it to reopen libraries, swimming pools and outdoor recreation areas on a limited scale. The bookstore opened this week on an appointment-only basis.

Folt also said plans were being discussed for a possible in-person spring graduation ceremony with limited guests, but nothing has been finalized. The ceremony would also cover the class of 2020.

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