February 19, 2021
Dear Trojan students and families,
I am writing to update you on Spring and Fall plans, but first let me take a moment to recognize the hardships that so many of you are experiencing due to frigid temperatures blanketing the country. Our thoughts are with our fellow Trojans, and we hope all of you are staying safe. As we look ahead, there is good news to report. Coming out of the holiday surge, we are seeing encouraging trends here in Los Angeles: new cases of COVID-19 are declining – down more than 80 percent from the mid-December peak – and hospitalization rates continue to decrease. While vaccines remain in short supply, this is predicted to improve over the next several weeks. As a result, LA County will soon be updating health guidelines that will allow the return of some activities to our campuses.
As you know, we have been actively advocating for increased campus access for our students. While we do not have approval, nor do we expect to receive it, for in-person classes this semester, we will be able to open our libraries at a reduced capacity, as well as our swimming pools, outdoor recreation areas, study canopies, and our bookstore opened this week for appointment shopping. We are working quickly and are aiming to be operational as soon as possible.
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. We are well into implementing plans that will embrace multiple 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.
Finally, we know everyone is anxious to hear about commencement. Over the past few months, we have been developing plans for multiple scenarios, including using the Los Angeles Memorial Coliseum for an in-person event with limited guests in addition to hosting an immersive virtual celebration. Please note our in-person planning includes the class of 2020.
Regardless if commencement is in person or virtual, we want you to be able to celebrate the day in your cap and gown. They are now available for rental or purchase at the bookstore. We continue to gather input from our community and health authorities on our planning and are taking into account the many variables and potential unknowns. I understand many of you have possible travel plans in the balance. Please keep in mind that if we can host an in-person commencement, capacity will be extremely limited. We will let you know where our discussions stand by 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. We are cautiously optimistic and are doing everything to make sure our plans for a return are fully realized. We will be posting regular updates on our We are SC site, so please be sure to check frequently. In the meantime, we urge you to continue taking every possible measure to ensure you remain safe and healthy in the coming months.
Carol L. Folt