The California State University system announced on Wednesday that it is anticipating a return to primarily in-person instruction for the 2021 fall semester.
As the developments in vaccines for COVID-19 gain notable traction, the CSU is anticipating a return to normalcy. Dr. Anthony Fauci, the nation's top disease expert, said he expects a vaccine to be widely available to the public sometime between April and June.
CSU officials continue to evaluate COVID-19 statistics. As of now, nothing has been officially decided, but the CSU is in the process of preparing plans to move forward.
“It's critical that we provide as much advance notice as possible to students and their families, as we have done previously in announcing our moves toward primarily virtual instruction," said CSU Chancellor Timothy White. “While we are currently going through a very difficult surge in the pandemic, there is light at the end of the tunnel with the promising progress on vaccines."
Scientific advancements have given CSU officials optimism for the upcoming academic year; although, they believe it is too soon to make a call for the 2021 summer session. The CSU’s steadfast action regarding the pandemic this year has put them in a position to plan accordingly, according to the CSU’s press release.
“We are approaching planning for the 2021 fall term with the goal of having the majority of our on-campus experiences returning," said CSU Chancellor-select Joseph Castro.
In the statement, the CSU also promoted transfer applications for the upcoming academic year, expecting to bring back normalcy to the 23 campuses across California.
Cal State Fullerton President Fram Virjee told the Daily Titan that CSUF was one of the first universities in the nation to announce a primarily virtual fall 2020 semester to help flatten the curve and allow faculty, staff, and students to prepare.
“Today, despite being in the throes of a national surge of the virus, we are seeing glimmers of hope for the future, and we at Cal State Fullerton are excited and hopeful to return to campus for primarily in-person instruction beginning with the Fall 2021 semester,” Virjee said.
Vincent Vigil, the associate vice president for Student Affairs and dean of students, said that CSUF will continue to follow state and county guidelines before proceeding with in-person instruction regardless of the CSU announcement.
Ellen Treanor, the chief communications officer for CSUF, said in an email to the Daily Titan, that she is thrilled about the news and remains optimistic about the possible return to campus next fall.
“As a member of the Reentry Leadership Team, this is the first really great news (other than the vaccine) we have had in a long time,” she said. “We know the path of the virus is unpredictable. We are holding our twin stars of health and safety and unimpeded degree completion. We recognize the trust student place in CSUF and will do everything we can to help students be successful.”
Janica Torres, Associated Students’ chief diversity inclusion officer, said she is thrilled about the announcement, but remains cautiously optimistic.
Torres said she works with various departments on campus to discuss a returning process and anticipates a transition period when students return to campus.
“There’s definitely going to be a cultural shift. A time of adjustment, a time for grace. We haven’t actually sat down to figure out what that’s going to look like,” Torres said. “I think everyone is excited about the news and not the implications and the work that's going to go into it.”
Treanor said that CSUF will rely on guidance from the CSU chancellor's office and the Orange County Health Agency when making an official decision.
“The entire landscape of U.S. society will be altered by the vaccine. The best case is we are back on campus with vibrant student life,” Treanor said.