Hybrid / Online Option for USC Students and Faculty Fall 2021

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Hybrid / Online Option for USC Students and Faculty Fall 2021

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Concerned USC Students, Employees, and Community Members started this petition to USC President Carol Folt

We, the students, at least 581 faculty and staff, and community members of the University of Southern California, are concerned about returning to full capacity in-person classes due to the Delta variant's increased viral load that is similar amongst both vaccinated and unvaccinated individuals. With such a contagious variant dominating the pandemic and the increased possibility of mutation should people continue to spread it, many of us do not feel comfortable returning to campus.

It is in the best interest of the University, Trojan Family, and community to offer a hybrid model such as that which has been successfully executed within LAUSD. If a large public school district can achieve this sort of success with thousands of children, there is no excuse for an experienced and resourceful institution like USC (which already has classrooms and lecture halls equipped to record and broadcast instruction).

As Dr. Van Orman revealed during the USG Student Health Town Hall that the University expects at least a few thousand cases amongst students alone, it is astounding that universal accommodations have not already been created.

Schools within the University have already proven this possible: both the Marshall School of Business and the Viterbi School of Engineering are already offering a hybrid model to give students the ability to attend in person or online. It's time for all schools to do the same for all students.

We are not asking for a fully online model, as many faculty wish to return in person, and a great number of students have signed binding leases. Students and faculty who wish to be in person may continue to do so.

However, not offering an online option is forcing members of our Trojan Family to jeopardize the health of themselves or their loved ones. We ask that the University allow faculty and staff the flexibility originally promised and give students the option to complete their degree without unnecessary interruption or distress. For more information about faculty/staff concerns, check out their Instagram.

Many concerns are being discussed both within our social circles and on forums online such as the USC Reddit. Some of those include:

  1. Full capacity class sizes indoors
  2. No online option for international students incapable of or uncomfortable with returning, suspending their studies indefinitely (not including Marshall and Viterbi courses)
  3. Lack of universal accommodations for (immunocompromised) students medically unable to attend in-person classes due to the pandemic
  4. Faculty, staff, and students and/or their household members (spouses, children, parents, siblings) who are at a higher risk of death or severe illness from infection
  5. The possibility of missing class due to exposure (for students unwilling or unable to be vaccinated) or infection (for all students) negatively affecting academic performance
  6. Fellow Trojans not adhering to COVID prevention protocol and faculty not enforcing or not being empowered to enforce it
  7. The mental health of Trojans who will experience anxiety or worsen other mental illnesses (like depression, OCD, etc.) due to fear of infection

It's also common for those that feel this discomfort to be part of disadvantaged communities. Whether they and/or their relatives served as essential workers throughout the pandemic or are members of particularly impacted communities, many Trojans are concerned for the mental and physical well-being of those who face trauma from their or their community's experiences or increased vulnerability to infection.

Watching helplessly as our privileged institution ignores the outcries of its most vulnerable, we have decided to stand together and demand online accommodation, both for students and instructors. No one should be forced into environments of probable exposure if they are incapable of conducting their necessary University assigned tasks without putting themselves or their loved ones in harm's way.

It is dangerous when true adherence to the prevention of spreading COVID to vulnerable individuals is not supported by those ranking highest within an organization. The best thing we can do to prevent this from causing a dangerous increase of cases within our Trojan Family, and by extension, the community we occupy, is to provide an online option to accommodate all students regardless of circumstances and empower in-person faculty with the ability to strongly enforce COVID prevention.

0 have signed. Let’s get to 2,500!
At 2,500 signatures, this petition is more likely to get picked up by local news!