‘Disheartening’ news at UCLA: Online learning will continue next quarter

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With two months left in the fall quarter, UCLA has announced that remote learning will continue in the winter quarter while other UC campuses continue to assess plans for the new year.

The university will still allow exceptions for students who must attend hybrid courses — such as labs and studio art classes — but online instruction will remain in place when the next quarter starts on Jan. 4 and runs through March 19. Limited on-campus student housing will continue to accommodate students without alternative plans.

“I understand that this news will be disheartening to many of you, especially our new Bruins who are eager to experience life in Westwood. It is disappointing to me as well,” Executive Vice Chancellor and Provost Emily Carter said in a statement. “We were hopeful that we could expand instruction to include more in-person classes next quarter, but given the continued spread of COVID-19, and in line with strict county public health mandates, we must maintain a reduced population and limit person-to-person contact on campus.”

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Los Angeles County remains under the state’s most restrictive COVID-19 safety tier, which prohibits indoor lectures and student gatherings at colleges, albeit with some exceptions. Indoor capacity could increase to 25% or 100 people, whichever is less, if the county reaches Tier 2, also known as the red tier for substantial risk of spread. But so far, L.A. County has remained stagnant in Tier 1 due to a widespread number of cases per 100,000, largely driven by younger residents.

UCLA has reported more than 320 coronavirus cases among students and staff since March. Students who live off-campus in non-university-owned housing have comprised the bulk of infections within the student community. Several students who have tested positive live in on-campus housing or have visited the campus.

Similarly, USC has reported more than 500 cases since early July, due largely to off-campus activity.

USC has yet to make a decision on its plans for the spring semester. But officials on Monday reiterated that parties and large gatherings were prohibited and warned that students’ behavior over the Halloween weekend and an upcoming football game would be critical to USC’s plans for the next semester.

While most California colleges have avoided major surges seen in other states where universities initially reopened en masse, higher education institutions have still emerged as a hot spot for the virus.

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