Provost says CSUF plans to start fall semester virtually

(Daily Titan)

Cal State Fullerton plans to enter the fall semester virtually, said Provost Pamella Oliver during a town hall meeting for faculty and staff on Monday.

Oliver said that this decision is subject to change, depending on how the situation surrounding COVID-19 progresses, but as of now, CSUF plans to start the fall semester virtually and gradually transition back to in-person classes.

“I wish that I could give you a definite answer and tell you this is exactly what we’re going to do, because I certainly would like to have some definite answers. But, what I do know is that our plan is to enter virtually, and then to also have in mind what would we do to enter gradually and to have flexibility as we do it,” Oliver said.

Oliver said there are groups that will immediately begin working on the plans for next semester to ensure adequate physical and social distancing.

Spikes in cases of COVID-19 after reentry are possible, in which case the university would switch back to virtual instruction, Oliver said.

David Forgues, the vice president of Human Resources, Diversity and Inclusion, said the campus will be looking to the chancellor’s office and the Orange County Health Agency for guidance, as well as the state government and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. He noted the indicators to watch for that California Gov. Gavin Newsom detailed last week.

“Based on these indicators, we are not yet even days away or weeks away from reopening,” Forgues said.

Forgues said that when CSUF does reopen, it will look very different. Face coverings, gloves and other personal protective equipment will likely be required or highly encouraged. Workplaces will likely be reconfigured to adhere to social distancing, and faculty and staff may switch to rotational scheduling or staggered work days or hours. 

Forgues also mentioned the likelihood of continued telecommuting.

“When we do return, what we know is that we will be able to utilize and capitalize on the amazing sense of teamwork that has taken place across campus as we’ve shifted to our current reality,” Forgues said.

Amir Dabirian, the vice president of the Division of Information Technology, said Titanium’s capacity has increased due to virtual instruction. Titanium is being used 38% more than it was before virtual instruction, Dabirian said.

“Our Zoom has peaked, about 4,500 sessions during the Monday through Thursdays. We have our help desk calls, as on the first day of remoting came out about 300 calls about this app, and roughly right now, about 100 calls a day for practice staff and about 100 calls a day for students,” Dabirian said.

Though CSUF is currently virtual, not all classes have been able to easily transition online. Several students have raised concerns about classes such as dance, as well as courses with labs.

Oliver said that planning for the option of some reentry is an urgent matter.

“Many people are doing very creative things with immersive experiences, and I have to praise the faculty for that. But, we do know that there are certain classes that would be better taught in person,” Oliver said.

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