First in Nation, California State University to Remain Virtual in Spring 2021

September 11, 2020 Updated: September 11, 2020

All 23 campuses of the California State University (CSU) system will continue to rely primarily on online instruction for the remainder of the 2020-21 academic year, system officials announced Thursday.

In a letter to the CSU community, Chancellor Timothy P. White said the decision was made after “extensive consultation” with campus leaders and consideration of all matters impacting the university operations, including the situation of the CCP (Chinese Communist Party) virus pandemic in California.

“The disease continues to spread,” said White. “While the current mitigation factors do make a difference, in the absence of a vaccine and of sufficient, cost-effective, timely testing and contact-tracing infrastructure, we are not able to return to a normal, principally in-person schedule in January 2021.”

The CSU announced in May that the vast majority of classes would be taught online this fall with few exceptions, such as clinical nursing courses, biology labs, or merchant marine training, where small-number, in-person instruction is “indispensable and can be justified.” White said making the decision early has given students and their families enough time to plan appropriately.

“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 to continue to provide an engaging, challenging and supportive virtual learning and discovery environment for our students,” said White.

All CSU campuses nonetheless developed “detailed plans” to repopulate for this fall and will continue to follow the protocols established in those plans for the spring, the CSU noted in a press release. System officials said this will enable individual campuses to offer in-person classes when the situation in their respective regions allows them to do so.

The announcement came as Chico State University, a CSU member, closed down due to rising CCP virus infection rates among students, only a week into partial reopen for on-campus living and in-person learning. San Diego State University (SDSU), the third oldest member in the CSU system, has also shifted entirely to online instruction after San Diego County’s health department reported an increased COVID-19 case rate.

According to student newspaper Daily Aztec, the SDSU on Monday asked students living in on-campus housing to remain home to prevent the spread of the CCP virus. Students are allowed to leave their dorms for supplies, work travel, and exercising while wearing masks. Those who violate the stay-at-home order will be referred for “discipline proceedings,” which could result in suspension and, in extreme circumstances, expulsion.