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USC reverses robust fall reopening plans, asks students to stay home for online classes

USC students are being asked to stay home and continue their education online in the fall amid the coronavirus crisis. <span class="copyright">(Al Seib / Los Angeles Times)</span>
USC students are being asked to stay home and continue their education online in the fall amid the coronavirus crisis. (Al Seib / Los Angeles Times)

Amid the alarming surge in coronavirus spread, USC announced it will no longer bring all undergraduates back to campus for the fall semester and will move to mainly online classes, reversing an earlier decision to welcome students back for a hybrid model.

The decision, announced by Provost Charles Zukoski late Wednesday night, came the same day Gov. Gavin Newsom announced tougher restrictions on indoor activities. Zukoski recommended that students not return to campus for the semester and instead continue their education online.

“The once-in-a-century COVID-19 pandemic has altered every aspect of our lives — the way we interact, work, and socialize — and with each new permutation of the pandemic, we must find ways to thrive,” Zukoski wrote.

“Given the continuing safety restrictions and limited densities permissible on campus, our undergraduate students primarily or exclusively will be taking their courses online in the fall term,” he said. “On-campus housing and activities will be limited.”

Only 10 to 20% of courses during the fall semester will be conducted in person and on campus. These courses include certain labs, studios and performance classes and research studies that require hands-on work.

The new USC decision echoes UCLA’s plan for the fall to only offer 15 to 20% of courses on campus, and reflects how colleges throughout the state and nation are moving to severely limit in-person courses,

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Duke plans mass COVID-19 testing and mix of in-person and online classes this fall

Duke University is planning to bring students, faculty and staff back to campus in August with new safety precautions, including mass COVID-19 testing, adjusted classroom layouts and revised housing options in dorms and hotels.

The school also announced the plan for its student-athletes to return to campus, beginning with football players on July 12.

The news comes as state health officials say they are concerned about the recent increase in COVID-19 cases among younger adults.

“While the trends we see today are concerning,” Duke president Vince Price said in a statement, “we believe that the many safety precautions we are putting in place will allow us to responsibly continue along the path towards opening Duke’s fall 2020 semester on campus in August. We ask all members of the Duke community — students, parents, faculty and staff — to recognize and accept that we may need to change our plans based on public health and other considerations.”

Durham County has recorded 3,674 lab-confirmed cases of COVID-19, making it No. 3 among the state’s 100 counties. Only Mecklenburg (11,170) and Wake (5,060), the state’s most populous counties, have had more COVID-19 cases.

Durham’s ratio of cases per 10,000 residents is 116, compared to Mecklenburg’s 102 and Wake’s 46.

But the county has been able to slow the virus’ spread during June. On June 12, the seven-day average of new cases added per day was 84.2. With Tuesday’s update from the state’s Department of Health and Human Services, the daily average over the

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Students react to colleges’ reopening plans with mix of optimism, fear

Arriving on campus kick-starts a year of firsts for college freshmen, and Abbey Shea was excited about all of them. Her first introduction to new roommates who may become lifelong friends, first semester away from home, first foray into independence.

And then her Port Orange, Florida, high school postponed its graduation ceremony because of the coronavirus. Uncertainty set in, and Shea braced herself for “a new normal,” she said — a college experience far different from the social mecca she’d imagined. 

“I’m trying to open myself up more,” said Shea, 18, who selected Nova Southeastern University in Fort Lauderdale as much for its diverse student population as for academic reasons. Now, she worries pandemic-related rules will smother her interpersonal goals. “I know it’s not going to be the same.”

Though Nova, a private university, has yet to publish a comprehensive outline for the fall semester, the Florida State University System’s reopening plans, approved last week by its Board of Governors, might give Shea a glimpse of what to expect. 

With mask in hand, Abbey Shea says the reality of leaving her South Daytona, Florida, home to head off to Nova Southeastern University in Fort Lauderdale in the fall is not like what she'd dreamed through high school. “I know it’s not going to be the same.”
With mask in hand, Abbey Shea says the reality of leaving her South Daytona, Florida, home to head off to Nova Southeastern University in Fort Lauderdale in the fall is not like what she’d dreamed through high school. “I know it’s not going to be the same.”

The 12 state schools will reduce class sizes and offer fewer in-person courses, enforce social distancing and require faculty, staff and students to wear face masks. Campuses nationwide have announced similar intentions, even as

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Colleges’ fall 2020 coronavirus reopening plans, detailed

Michigan State University President Samuel Stanley says he knows the coronavirus will spread if students come back to campus in the fall.

While safety is “paramount,” managing the risk is a chance worth taking for MSU, he said.

“The one thing that’s going to be really important, then, is confidence in our students, faculty and staff and their willingness to abide by a number of the things we’re going to be asking them to do on campus,” Stanley said.

Like Stanley, most college administrators are mulling over how to restart their programs with no end in sight for the public health crisis.

According to the Chronicle of Higher Education, which is tracking more than 860 institutions’ plans, two-thirds of colleges are planning to welcome back students in person, while only 7% are planning to hold classes only online. Many other colleges have yet to make a decision.

Their approaches are as diverse as the roughly 3,000 four-year colleges and universities that span the United States.

Back to campus – with masks, one-way hallways

Stanley is among a majority of university presidents who aspire to welcome students back to campus in the fall. He said many students had difficulties with remote learning in the spring. Some lacked the resources at home to complete courses online. 

But Michigan State still plans to hold about half of its classes entirely online. Others will be taught via a hybrid format, with students doing some course sessions online and some in person, or in larger

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