On Friday, February 19, President Carol Folt of the University of Southern California (USC) announced that the university is planning a full return to campus for the fall 2021 semester. That return will include in-person classes and residential life.
President Folt cited the decline in Covid cases and the vaccine rollout as the reasons for her optimism about the coming academic year. Covid cases, she notes, have fallen by as much as 80 percent since they peaked last December. And although the vaccine rollout has been slow, the USC President sees reason to hope that vaccine supplies will increase in the coming months. The university had tried to reopen twice before and each time had to retract their plans
In her letter to the USC community, Folt underscores that the return to campus will be punctuated with a host of protective measures including,
a campus vaccination operation currently underway, which will be able to vaccinate 1,200 people a week when supply is more readily available; a testing program running twice weekly for undergraduates and weekly for all others accessing campus; and physical distancing measures along with classroom and outdoor facility reconfiguration to ensure the safe return of students, faculty, and staff.Dr. Carol Folt, president University of Southern CaliforniaS
She added that it is unlikely that USC will return to in-person classes this semester, but the university hopes that the county will allow them to open some facilities like libraries and outdoor recreation areas.
President Folt ended her note to the Trojan community by promising to keep them updated about plans for commencement and plans for reopening. She concludes on this hopeful note, “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.”
So while next year will not look 100 percent normal, there is, at long last, a glimmer of hope that post-pandemic normalcy is on the agenda. Hopefully, USC is the first of many universities to announce a return to in-person classes and residential life. We hope that this is the harbinger of things to come. It’s been a very long year.