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Amid coronavirus concerns, USC will test online classes next week

USC
USC will conduct all classes online for three days next week to test the ability to operate remotely in the face of the coronavirus.
(Brian van der Brug / Los Angeles Times)

USC said Friday it would conduct lectures and seminars online rather than in classrooms for three days next week to test the ability to operate remotely should the coronavirus spread and force the campus to suspend in-person contact.

While there are no coronavirus cases at USC, the university said in a statement Friday the test was among “precautionary measures to ensure that we are prepared for any potential disruptions to teaching and learning at USC.”

“Our university must be nimble and flexible in the event that we need to make any further changes to the semester,” said Provost Charles F. Zukoski in a letter to the campus Friday. “We have about 7,000 lecture classes this spring. We need to test our technical capabilities to ensure academic continuity in an online environment should there be a disruption.”

The test will occur March 11-13. During that time, the university will be operating normally with all services and events running as usual.

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“I emphasize that this is a test of our capabilities,” Zukoski said in his letter. “The university is fully functional. Student residential colleges, dining halls, offices, libraries, health centers, and recreation and athletics facilities are open. Campus events are scheduled to take place as planned. Employees are expected to be at work.”

The move comes as other universities are dealing with the spread of coronavirus.

Three UCLA students who were under self-isolation due to possible coronavirus exposure each tested negative for the virus, Chancellor Gene D. Block said in a statement Friday night.

The University of Washington announced Friday it was moving all instruction online for the next two weeks, keeping more than 50,000 students out of classrooms as the death toll from COVID-19 in that region continued to rise.

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L.A. County confirmed two additional cases of the new coronavirus Friday, bringing the total to 13.

The new cases still don’t point to community spread in Los Angeles County, L.A. County Department of Public Health Director Barbara Ferrer said.

She estimated that 50 people in the county have been tested for COVID-19 and emphasized that more tests are coming back negative than positive.


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