All California State Universities (CSU) campuses will continue to hold virtual classes through spring semester, CSU Chancellor Timothy White announced in a letter to the CSU community.
White wrote in the letter that “The CSU will continue with a primarily virtual instructional approach for the academic term that begins in January 2021.” For CSU campuses on the semester system, this means that the entirety of the spring 2021 semester will incorporate remote instruction.
Although Cal Poly is on the quarter system, both Winter and Spring quarters will maintain minimal in-person learning, according to University Spokesperson Matt Lazier.
White wrote that the decision was informed by several factors, including the continual spread of the virus, the lack of an effective and widespread vaccine and the limited testing facilities on CSU campuses.
“We have learned from experience that announcing this decision now will allow faculty and staff to continue or start professional development to be even more effective in the virtual space,” White wrote. “We also know that deciding now will allow our students and their families time to plan appropriately.”
Other CSU’s following the semester system began instruction in late August. Some CSU campuses such as San Diego State University, have already seen a spike in cases among the student body.
White said that the transition of spring semester to primarily online instruction will act as another preventative measure in limiting the spread of the virus on campuses and aligns with the current advice of public health officials.
“This decision is the only responsible one available to us at this time,” White wrote.
White also announced that CSU campuses will continue with reduced populations in campus housing.
White said that this decision was made early on to allow universities to publish course offerings, as academic plans for the term that begins in January 2021 must be finalized soon.
The early decision also allows CSU campuses to develop accreditation requirements for virtual courses, White wrote. The CSU accrediting body — Western Association of Schools and Colleges (WASC) — requires each campus to seek authorization for courses taught virtually with online and distance-learning technology.
Although the requirement was waived by the state for the fall, the waiver will expire in December and it will not be renewed. This means CSU campuses must commit to January academic schedules to meet this requirement.
“Put another way, there are compelling and compulsory administrative factors that require us to decide now how to best proceed in January 2021,” White wrote.
White added that it is possible for some CSU campuses to “slightly increase” the amount of in-person instruction. At Cal Poly, only a few fall courses will be granted in-person status after Nov. 20, including some in-person classes, senior projects, undergraduate research as well as enterprise projects and activities. This will be established on a case-by-case basis, according to an email from President Armstrong sent Aug. 12.
Plans for commencement will be addressed in January, according to White’s announcement. Cal Poly’s commencement ceremony is held in June.
White previously said that the CSU’s majority-online course schedule may last through the entire school year at a U.S. House of Representatives subcomittee meeting in July.