May 13, 2020 12:30 PM

Virus will keep nation's largest public university system closed this fall

Posted May 13, 2020 12:30 PM

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Classes will continue online for all 23 campuses in the California State University system this fall.
Classes will continue online for all 23 campuses in the California State University system this fall.

LONG BEACH, CA. —The California State University, the largest system of four-year higher education in the country, with 23 campuses, 53,000 faculty and staff and 482,000 students announced Tuesday will continue with online classes this fall.

According to a media release, Chancellor Tim White said, “This approach to virtual planning is necessary for many reasons. First and foremost is the health, safety and welfare of our students, faculty and staff, and the evolving data surrounding the progression of COVID-19 – current and as forecast throughout the 2020-21 academic year.

This planning approach is necessary because a course that might begin in a face-to-face modality would likely have to be switched to a virtual format during the term if a serious second wave of the pandemic occurs, as forecast. Virtual planning is necessary because it might not be possible for some students, faculty and staff to safely travel to campus. 

Said another way, this virtual planning approach preserves as many options for as many students as possible.

Consequently, our planning approach will result in CSU courses primarily being delivered virtually for the fall 2020 term, with limited exceptions for in-person teaching, learning and research activities that cannot be delivered virtually, are indispensable to the university's core mission and can be conducted within rigorous standards of safety and welfare. There will be hybrid approaches and there will be variability across the 23 campuses due to specific context and circumstances.

Some possible examples of potential exceptions  - and only when there are sufficient resources available and protocols in place to assure that rigorous health and safety requirements are in place - include clinical classes with training mannequins for our nursing students such that we keep students on track for licensure and entry into the state's healthcare workforce; essential physical and life science laboratory classes enabling degree completion and entry into the energy and bioscience fields; access to kilns and other unique facilities to enable students in the performing and creative arts to explore and express the depth, breadth and beauty of humanity; hands-on experience with unique instrumentation and senior capstone projects for engineering, architecture and agriculture students; and access to the blue-water hands-on interactive simulator for boat and ship handling, to provide students with knowledge, understanding and skills necessary for the maritime industry and required for licensure by the US Coast Guard and UN International Maritime Organization.

The granting of limited exceptions to permit in-person activities will continue to be informed by thoughtful consultation with academic senates, associated students, staff councils and union leadership, and will be based on compelling educational and research needs, while continuing to meet safety benchmarks. Any exceptions may be permitted only in the continued presence of the aforementioned rigorous safety measures and training, and only in consideration of resource availability and other matters of local context, and be in accordance with the guidance of local and state public health agencies, the repopulation directives of governmental authorities along with other relevant regulatory agencies.

This combination, really a myriad of factors, will result in variability across the 23 campuses due to specific context and circumstances, but predominately there will be limited in-person experiential learning and research occurring on campuses for the fall 2020 term. On some campuses and in some academic disciplines course offerings are likely to be exclusively virtual."