9/2: COVID-19 Community Update, September 2020

September 2, 2020

Dear Neighbors,

With our fall semester now underway, we write to share updates so that you are fully briefed on the steps USC is taking to create a safe environment on and around our campuses. 

As you know, our semester has begun remotely, with limited exceptions for clinical education. The majority of our staff and faculty continue to work remotely and on-campus housing is operating at considerably reduced capacity. Given the current spread of the pandemic in the Los Angeles area, this situation is unlikely to change in the foreseeable future. 

With some students returning to private off-campus housing, we are aware that student gatherings have taken place in violation of public health orders and the expectations we have clearly set for our students.  USC understands that the issue of student noncompliance is of utmost importance to our neighbors and I want to assure you that it is also of utmost importance to university leadership. 

To that end, we have reiterated to students in a number of recent communications that if safety guidelines are not followed, they will be subject to disciplinary sanctions. We have also informed student organizations that they will lose their recognition if safety guidelines are ignored. 

In addition, the USC Department of Public Safety (DPS) will now have at its disposal, after consultation with the City of Los Angeles, additional enforcement mechanisms for large gatherings, including charging participants with a misdemeanor under California Penal Code 372/373, which prohibits maintaining a public nuisance and/or Los Angeles Municipal Code 41.58.1, which prohibits large and unruly gatherings. We are also in constant contact and coordination with the Los Angeles County Department of Public Health.

USC has been in regular communication with private landlords to help them procure COVID-19 cleaning supplies and personal protective equipment (PPE).  In addition, we are in regular contact with the owners/operators of properties where DPS has been called to respond to complaints of parties and gatherings. As part of this outreach, we have stressed the seriousness of enforcing social distancing and PPE compliance, and I’m happy to report that the great majority of landlords we have spoken to have been receptive.

To further mitigate community spread, the university is providing quarantine and isolation space at the USC Hotel for students and employees who are exposed to or test positive for COVID-19. 

The vast majority of our students understand the seriousness of this issue and are taking responsible precautions to behave responsibly and be respectful of our neighbors. They represent the best of USC’s values. However, as you know, it only takes a small number of people acting outside of the rules to create an unsafe environment. We will stay vigilant on behalf of public health.

To report community concerns about USC and COVID-19, please contact covid19@usc.edu or call our COVID-19 hotline at 213-740-6291. You can also reach out to my office directly, or email me at sam.garrison@usc.edu, if there’s a specific issue you would like to discuss. 

I also want to remind you that access to the University Park Campus (UPC) will remain limited to certain vehicle and pedestrian entrances while access to the Health Sciences Campus (HSC), access will continue to be controlled at the building level. We ask visitors to both campuses to complete their daily symptom check online via TrojanCheck before arriving. Paper versions of TrojanCheck are available for those who require them. On our campuses, members of our Care Crew will be on hand to help enforce physical distancing and PPE compliance.

As a reminder, you can always find up-to-date information on our Fall 2020 website at we-are.usc.edu. The site is updated regularly and includes a section for our neighbors under the ‘Community’ tab at the top of the page. 

USC is committed to partnering with you, and with all the members of our community, to prioritize the safety of everyone on our campuses and in our neighborhoods. In the meantime, we will continue to keep you updated on any major changes.


Samuel Garrison
Interim Senior Vice President
University Relations