March 24, 2020
Dear Trojan Community,
You and your families are in our hearts and minds every day as we continue to adjust to the changing world caused by the COVID-19 pandemic.
Yesterday, we welcomed our students back to the start of classes following spring recess—virtually, for the first time ever. It’s a big job to get 7000 classes of all types online in less than two weeks. We thank everyone for doing their best to accomplish this under trying circumstances. We know how difficult it is to work from home with children climbing into your laps and spilled coffee around your computers in the kitchen; to study and take notes from Zoom lectures in rooms where others are talking or watching TV; and to worry about the health and welfare of family far away and the financial impact on your and their lives.
We appreciate how our students are adjusting to conditions they never imagined, missing friends and communities, dealing with disappointments and delayed or cancelled learning experiences. We are deeply grateful to the employees still doing essential work on our campuses, and to our healthcare workers and those maintaining our buildings, hospitals and clinics—putting themselves on the front line to help others, right now as we write to you.
And we are inspired by your courage and resilience to fight on. These are anxious and practically difficult times, especially for those of you in greatest need and at the greatest risk. Thank you, Trojan Family—together, we will weather this storm and emerge as strong as ever when the crisis has eased.
Everything is very dynamic now. Every day brings new information, challenges and surprises, with the spread of the virus, government decisions, and economic and social impacts. So every day we have to update our planning for near and longer term needs. Our new actions are based on this evolving situation and the issues we know are top of mind for you.
We know it can be easy to miss an important message (e.g., the deadline for students to choose pass/fail or a letter grade has been extended), so please check our COVID-19 website as often as possible. We will keep you updated as soon as we have information to share.
- Employees: Thank you for your dedication and patience in these difficult times.
- There are no changes in conditions for all employees, working in essential on-site jobs, or working from home.
- For employees, including Aramark and union staff, for whom at-home work is not possible, we are extending the period of administrative paid leave to four weeks (or the equivalent) through April 12. You do not have to use any of your accrued vacation or other types of leave, until after this date.
- All student workers, including those with federal work study grants, will be paid through the end of the semester. For more information, visit the Student Workers section of the Employee FAQ.
- Our HR partners will provide more details in the coming days.
- Residents in residential housing: Thank you for your cooperation over the weekend, letting us know who among the nearly 10,000 students who live in our housing needs to remain on campus.
- a. While most residents had already returned home during recess, nearly 1400 students need to continue to live on campus. We have restricted guests and social gatherings to protect their health and that of others in our community.
- b. We know you have questions, especially about retrieving your personal belongings (which we are keeping safe and secure) and about pro-rated refunds for room and board (which we will provide). There are other pressing issues we must get to first and return to these as quickly as possible.
- Commencement: Thank you for letting us know how much you appreciated that we are postponing but not eliminating all the in-person Commencement 2020 activities. We loved hearing from you. We know how much this means to our graduates, parents, faculty, and staff, and we will do all we can to plan a joyful on-campus celebration. We are creating FAQs regarding commencement, including answers to questions about regalia purchase and rentals, that we will post later this week.
- Academic matters: Thank you to our faculty and staff for working so hard to launch the first day of online classes following Spring Recess. The provost and the deans are following this closely. Please email firstname.lastname@example.org with any concerns, so that we can direct them to the people who can best respond to you.
- Parents: Thank you for supporting our students and for the sacrifices you have made. We know you are facing concerns and disappointments in these disruptive times. We hope you will read the updates as we post them; we will post answers as soon as we have them.
- Community outreach: Thank you for the many inquiries and suggestions you have made about the best way USC can support our community. Here are just a few current examples to reassure you that USC is doing its utmost to help. We are providing temporary housing for our healthcare workers through USC’s Care for the Caregiver program and are identifying more on- and off- campus space for the front line heroes who cannot return home. We are working to secure needed personal protective equipment (PPE) for our hospital workers and patients. And, in our neighborhoods, USC is donating fresh food and produce to local food drives near both campuses. We are providing 400 breakfasts and lunches each day to children aged three to five who are enrolled in USC’s Head Start programs, and connecting thousands of local small businesses to COVID-19 business continuity resources. The doctors of Keck Medicine’s innovative Street Medicine program also continue delivering healthcare to our vulnerable homeless population. This is a just snapshot of Trojan efforts to date, with much more to come.
QUESTIONS AND INFORMATION: We have a dedicated team of people working to answer thousands of emails and calls. We understand how worrisome and difficult this is for everyone, and everyone has different needs and challenges.
To streamline communications, our COVID-19 website will show new actions and guidance in red font, under specific topics. This new information will remain in red for 48 hours and then change to black. This way you will immediately see the latest updates. Please do check the COVID-19 site regularly.
IN CLOSING: Thank you again for your patience, your understanding, and your strength and resilience. We are confident that the Trojan Family will get through these challenges stronger than ever, with the grace and courage Trojans bring to the most difficult of challenges.
With heartfelt appreciation,
Carol L. Folt
President’s Senior Leadership Team
Provost’s Leadership Team