Los Angeles universities grapple with county ban on in-person classes


LOS ANGELES (NewsNation) — As is the case on college campuses across the country, it is a start like no other for more than 40,000 students at the University of Southern California.

Tuesday marks day two of classes at USC but few students are actually on campus. All classes are online.

USC junior Isabella Arege said it is an adjustment and she’d prefer in-person classes. She admits she moved back near campus to be with her friends even as all Trojans have been encouraged to fight on against coronavirus.

“I’m not that concerned that I’m gonna get it,” said Arege. “I feel like if I’m gonna get it it’ll happen. I’m not gonna sit at home and wait around.”

Many other USC students have also moved back though campus is essentially closed. Junior Abby Baumgartner said she moved back because of financial reasons.

“I had a lease so I’m just living in a house with a couple of my friends,” Baumgartner said. “Obviously, we’re not really allowed to go out but it’s nice to be with a couple people at least.”

It’s not clear how many students are there but no one is allowed on campus without proper clearance. And nearby, all fraternities and sororities are closed.

Despite precautions, student Connor Reyes thinks COVID-19 clusters could still happen.

“Because USC closed our on campus housing, a lot of freshmen who were looking forward to having the normal college experience decided to get apartments,” said Reyes. “They’re just taking advantage of the apartments, not enforcing the rules, kinda doing whatever they want.”

For now, L.A. County Department of Health is not allowing colleges and universities to offer in-person classes. The county mandate goes beyond the state limiting in campus activities due to a high rate of coronavirus transmissions among young people.

At University of California – Los Angeles there is hope the county may ease up restrictions by the time classes start on Sept. 28.

For all schools, the financial losses are significant with no major sporting events or revenue from housing or dining contracts.

With this week’s developments at schools across the country, USC students are not encouraged about offline instruction anytime soon.

“In the spring semester maybe hybrid if we’re lucky. By the looks of it, probably not,” said sophomore Kiana Steele.

According to the L.A. County Health Department, young people currently account for up to 30 percent of new infections. On Tuesday, the county reported more than a thousand new coronavirus cases and 64 deaths.

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