California State University stays online in fall 2020

Courses that begin face-to-face might have to move online if a second wave of coronavirus occurs
By: | May 13, 2020
Courses at California State University, Fullerton, and at the state system's 22 other campuses will be delivered mostly online in fall 2020. (Photo: California State University, Fullerton)Courses at California State University, Fullerton, and at the state system's 22 other campuses will be delivered mostly online in fall 2020. (Photo: California State University, Fullerton)
Timothy P. White

Timothy P. White

Concerns over a second wave of coronavirus later this year will keep courses at one of the nation’s largest higher educations systems, The California State University, mostly online in fall 2020.

Limited in-person instruction will be allowed for teaching, learning and research activities that cannot be accomplished virtually and that “are indispensable to the university’s core mission,” CSU Chancellor Timothy P. White announced Tuesday.

​​​​​​“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,” White said. “Virtual planning is necessary because it might not be possible for some students, faculty and staff to safely travel to campus.”

Hybrid approaches will vary across CSU‘s 23 campuses. Courses and activities that could take place in-person include:

  • Nursing classes with training mannequins for students seeking licenses to join California’s healthcare workforce.
  • Essential physical and life science laboratory classes that students need to complete degrees and enter the energy and bioscience fields.
  • Access to kilns and other unique performing and creative arts facilities.
  • Hands-on experiences with specialized technology for engineering, architecture and agriculture students.
  • Access to interactive simulators for boat and ship handling for students seeking maritime industry degrees and licenses.

All the activities can only take place as long as rigorous safety standards are in place, White said.


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“There will be limited in-person experiential learning and research occurring on campuses for the fall 2020 term,” White said. “On some campuses and in some academic disciplines course offerings are likely to be exclusively virtual.”

Campuses prepare for fall 2020

At San Francisco State University, campus leaders are now working to determine which courses can be taught in person, President Lynn Mahoney said in a message to the campus.

“At this time, the ability to increase face-to-face contact requires not just face coverings and physical distancing,” Mahoney said. “Opening businesses and schools will also necessitate acquiring quantities of personal protective and sanitizing equipment. It will require frequent testing, tracing and quarantining. It will require monitoring waste systems to see if there is live virus present.”

California State University, Long Beach leaders are preparing a staggered return to campuses, President Jane Close Conoley said her message to campus.


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“It’s likely that we’ll stagger the return of staff to add to campus density gradually, and safety precautions will be required,” Conoley said. “Meanwhile, staff members whose work is primarily associated with direct interaction with students will be asked to continue reimagining how to be effective using remote techniques. Workshops will be offered to increase our comfort levels with remote delivery of student services.”

Hybrid approach at the University of California

The University of California’s campuses are preparing hybrid approaches for fall 2020, CBS2 Los Angeles reported.

“At this juncture, it’s likely none of our campuses will fully re-open in fall,” UC spokesman Stett Holbrook told CBS2. “We will be exploring a mixed approach with some material delivered in classroom and lab settings while other classes will continue to be online.”

UC Berkeley, for example, is planning for three scenarios: fully online, a combination of online and in-person classes, and a return to normal operations.


UB’s coronavirus page offers complete coverage of the impacts on higher ed.


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