Just three weeks into the fall semester, the California State University system announced a plan to continue with virtual instruction through the spring for a majority of classes throughout the 23 campuses.
“In retrospect, making this consequential decision approximately three and one-half months before the start of the new academic year provided valuable time for thousands of faculty and staff to participate in professional development,” said CSU Chancellor Timothy White in the statement.
White said that while the fall semester has just begun, academic plans for the term that begins in January 2021 must soon be finalized. Campuses will begin to publish course offerings for the new year and will have to make the appropriate adjustments to meet student demands.
Another reason White gave is that Cal State Fullerton will seek authroization from the Western Association of Schools and Colleges, the body that oversees the university accreditation process in the Western region of the United States, for virtual courses at the end of December.
In order to comply, campuses will need to commit to their January academic plans by the end of October.
“The chancellor's office was taking a leadership and saying we need to plan especially for our accreditation because we can't risk having students take classes that don't actually lead to their degree,” said Ellen Treanor, chief communications officer at Cal State Fullerton.
White said this decision allows faculty, staff and students to prepare in advance for the virtual semester.
White also highlighted that the CSU has a greater understanding of COVID-19 than they did back in May. Despite cases and hospitalizations stabilizing recently throughout California, the CSUs remain concerned about the numbers and the lack of a widely available vaccine existing anytime soon.
Treanor said that White’s plan provides variability as to how each campus can implement the plan depending on how cases are doing at the campus and its county, given a drastic rise in positive cases at campuses like San Diego State and Chico State.
On Tuesday, Orange County moved into the substantial spread tier of the state’s four-stage blueprint system for coronavirus cases in each county, while Los Angeles County is in the widespread tier of positive cases. If things continue to improve, Treanor said that CSUF could potentially offer classes of up to 200 people and have labs operating at near or full capacity.
She said that even though the administration wants students and faculty to come back to campus, this gives more time to plan out the winter and spring semesters, as the fall semester wraps up its first month.
“I don't think it's really what the students want. And I really don't think it's what the faculty want,” Treanor said. “But it's, I mean, we're stuck with this across the country, across the world.”
Karina Gutierrez contributed to this article.
A previous version of this article stated the Western Association of Schools and Colleges will seek accreditation from Cal State Fullerton. Cal State Fullerton will seek accreditation from the Western Association of Schools and Colleges. We at Daily Titan apologize for our error.