If you're a student at the University of Southern California, you might have to get used to Zoom.
As COVID-19 continues to torment most of the state of California, colleges across the state are preparing for virtual classes this fall. Recently, USC pivoted from their prior stance of expecting students on campus this fall, to now advising them to take their courses online.
USC provost Charles F. Zukowski and senior vice president David Wright released a letter on Wednesday stating as much:
"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, and on-campus housing and activities will be limited. While not what we hoped, we are now recommending all undergraduates take their courses online, and reconsider living on or close to campus this semester. We are continuing with limited in-person, on-campus activity because we believe we can keep students, researchers, staff, and faculty safe with our low-density plan."
The decision to go virtual for the fall semester could very well affect the Trojans' college football season. The Trojans are currently ranked No. 19 in the NCAA's preseason rankings and were expected to compete for the Pac 12 title this year.
Although the letter does not say definitively say that there will be no students on campus without exceptions, it would make the process of playing college football difficult if the rest of the student body was not allowed to be on campus.
Recently, USC started allowing student-athletes to return to campus prior to the release of the letter on Wednesday. Voluntary football workouts began last week even though the prospect of a college football season in 2020 seems bleak as of July 1.
The first two days of July saw record-breaking coronavirus cases surpassing over 50,000 positive cases on back-to-back days. Prior to July 1, the United States had never had more than 50,000 cases recorded in a single day.
However, despite the surging cases in California and Los Angeles County specifically, the USC Trojans athletic program has seemed stay clear of the virus so far. As of Wednesday, only one student-athlete had tested positive per the L.A. Times. That number is significantly less than the 37 positive cases on the reigning national champion Clemson Tigers football program, and the handful of positive cases in the Alabama and Oklahoma football programs.
Pac 12 Commissioner Larry Scott said on Thursday that there were still multiple options on the table, including moving the college football season to spring, but with the coronavirus surging across the country, it seems highly unlikely the college football season will begin in August as originally planned.
“I still want to be cautiously optimistic, but if there’s no change in society’s response and behavior, which results in a quick flattening of the curve and a decrease in the spread of the virus, that would lead to a much more pessimistic view about our campuses being able to open and our ability to play college sports."