The states’ other two systems, the University of California and the California Community Colleges, are likely to follow suit.
CSU Chancellor Timothy White made the announcement Tuesday. The decision is the first of its kind in the U.S. and will apply to all 23 system universities.
“This approach to virtual planning is necessary for many reasons. First and foremost is the health, safety and welfare of our students, faculty and staff, and the evolving data surrounding the progression of COVID-19 – current and as forecast throughout the 2020-21 academic year,” White wrote in a statement. “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.”
Exceptions will be made for learning that can’t be done remotely, such as essential lab courses and clinical classes for nursing students. These students may need to work in shifts and wear personal protective gear.
“The granting of limited exceptions to permit in-person activities will continue to be informed by thoughtful consultation with academic senates, associated students, staff councils and union leadership, and will be based on compelling educational and research needs, while continuing to meet safety benchmarks,” White added.
Rigorous health and safety precautions will be in place, including sanitizing and spreading students out, reports CNN. Instead of 15 students per class, it may be five students, White said.
The University of California (UC) system, the state’s other four-year public university system consisting of 10 campuses, is likely to follow suit. On Tuesday, spokesperson Stett Holbrook wrote in an email that “it’s likely none of our campuses will fully reopen in fall,” and the system “will be exploring a mixed approach with some material delivered in classroom and labs settings while other classes will continue to be online.”
Earlier this month, UC President Janet Napolitano said testing and contact tracing programs, among other things, would need to be in place before campuses could reopen. The UC Board of Regents is set to meet next week and is expected to discuss plans for the fall.
The California Community Colleges system, made up of 115 colleges, has not yet made an official announcement but is recommending colleges prepare for the possibility of remaining closed.
“We haven’t issued any formal guidance for the fall semester. We are continuing to recommend colleges be prepared to offer online instruction through the fall semester,” said Christina Jimenez, a spokeswoman for the chancellor’s office.
The announcements came the same day that Los Angeles County Public Health Director Barbara Ferrer said stay-at-home orders will “with all certainty” be extended through July unless there is a “dramatic change to the virus and tools at hand.”
However, some restrictions have been eased. Beaches in LA County are set to reopen Wednesday with modifications, according to The Los Angeles Times. Beachgoers will be required to be engaged in some sort of activity, such as walking, swimming and surfing, and must wear masks when they aren’t in the water. No sunbathing is allowed and coolers, chairs and umbrellas should be left at home.