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Schools, Universities Prepare For Possible Coronavirus Outbreaks

LOS ANGELES (CBSLA) — Schools across Southern California are taking precautions to prevent the spread of coronavirus, including the University of Southern California and Murrieta Valley High School.

On Friday, USC announced that it would replace in-person classes with online lectures for three days next week as part of its preparations for a possible outbreak of the coronavirus on campus.

In a letter sent to students and parents sent Friday, USC stated there are no cases of COVID-19 on its campus. However, "our university must be nimble and flexible in the event that we need to make any further changes to the semester. 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."

From March 11 through March 13, all testing, classes and seminars will occur online. Faculty have been directed to hold office hours online as well.

During this time, the university will still be fully functional in all other capacities, including student residential colleges, dining halls, offices, libraries, health centers, and recreation and athletics facilities.

The dates lead into the university's spring recess, which is March 15 through March 22.

The university re-iterated that this is only a test of digital infrastructure and not a response to any cases or concerns on campus. Classes are scheduled to resume normally when students and faculty return.

RELATED: Results Come Back Negative After 3 UCLA Students Tested For Coronavirus

In Riverside County, school officials announced that an employee at Murrieta Valley High School was sick and was being tested for coronavirus after recent travel to a country with a known outbreak.

In response, the school will be closed Monday and would remain closed until testing of the employee has been completed. During the closure, the school said the campus would be disinfected.

"The health and safety of our students is our first concern," Superintendent Pat Kelley said. "This decision was made is to ensure their health."

Public health officials said 71 students may have come into contact with the sick individual and were being told to self-quarantine to prevent others from becoming ill.

As the number of confirmed coronavirus cases in California continues to grow, Gov. Gavin Newsom declared a state of emergency on Wednesday in response to the outbreak.

"The State of California is deploying every level of government to help identify cases and slow the spread of this coronavirus," said Gov. Newsom. "This emergency proclamation will help the state further prepare our communities and our health care system in the event it spreads more broadly."

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