LOS ANGELES — Fall semester is still weeks away for most Los Angeles area universities, but both UC Los Angeles and the University of Southern California are dealing with a rise in COVID-19 cases.
What You Need To Know
- UCLA has had more than 150 students and staff test positive for the coronavirus since March
- County health officials are also investigating an outbreak of more than 40 cases at USC’s Greek Row
- UCLA campus feels more deserted than the average summer because of the social isolation
- One student reports that UCLA plans to increase tuition amid the pandemic
The graduate student housing complex where UCLA law student Sarah Handloser lives feels like a ghost town. The courtyard that used to be packed with other students has become an empty and quiet place for Handloser to play catch with her dog. This isn’t how she imagined spending the summer heading into her second year of law school.
“I have so many good memories from the fall here and it’s really sad to see it so empty,” Handloser said. “It’s a massive bummer to be on campus right now and I wish we were taking classes more on campus.”
Courses begin in just a few weeks away and the campus feels more deserted than the average summer. Only a small percentage of classes are scheduled as in-person when the semester begins.
UCLA has had more than 150 students and staff test positive for the coronavirus since March. About a third of those cases were just in the last month and a half.
“If cases keep increasing I worry about next year, next semester’s fate,” Handloser said.
Handloser is looking forward to classes starting again but said the remote learning via video conference has drawbacks, including making it difficult to connect with professors and other students. She added that the university is also scheduled to raise tuition amid the pandemic, a move she and her classmates are trying to fight with the chancellors.
“Increasing tuition at a time when everyone is struggling, everyone is working to make ends meet, is a little absurd,” Handloser said.
UCLA did not comment on the scheduled tuition increase but sent Spectrum News 1 a statement regarding its coronavirus cases:
“The university is working to ensure that it is in compliance with Los Angeles County Department of Health standards for safety, including requiring masks and physical distancing, adding sanitation stations and deep-cleaning buildings and commonly used areas. Among other safety and training measures, students, faculty and staff who plan to come to campus for any purpose are required to take a confidential survey each day and to monitor themselves for symptoms of the coronavirus.”
UCLA is not the only university trying to stem the pandemic’s toll on student life. County health officials are also investigating an outbreak of more than 40 cases at USC’s Greek Row, involving at least three fraternities. The outbreak may be linked to a large social gathering on July 4th.
“It’s upsetting but I’m not surprised,” Handloser said. “I hope everybody’s well, and you know, stay six feet apart, don’t throw parties.”
Handloser said she trusts her university to make the right decisions about safety. She just hopes her fellow classmates take those measures and social distancing seriously so that her third year of law school can finally feel normal again.