CSU's Will Be Mainly Virtual For Fall Term

Holly Quan
May 13, 2020 - 9:51 am

It’s official: there will be no rush to get to the dorms or campus bookstore this fall for hundreds of thousands of Cal State University students. 

The country's largest four year college system is canceling most in-person classes and continuing with remote instruction for the fall term. CSU Chancellor Timothy P. White confirmed the system’s plans in a statement Tuesday.

There will be some exceptions for things like clinical nursing, lab research and access to kilns and other unique arts equipment that cannot be moved online. Chancellor White stated, “there will be hybrid approaches and there will be variability across the 23 campuses due to specific context and circumstances.”

But for the most part instruction across the system will be online, and some campuses and disciplines may be entirely virtual. 

San Francisco State President Lynn Mahoney said in a statement the university is preparing for a primarily virtual fall semester. “Colleges, department chairs and faculty are working quickly to identify the small number of courses that may qualify for an exception. Students registered in these courses will receive detailed communications and guidance from their department chairs as soon as plans have been finalized.”

CSU is one of the earliest universities to finalize plans for the fall semester. Many prominent universities have said they will wait until June to get a better picture of where the pandemic will be in the fall.

“We’re a large university. Over 500,000 students and about 55,000 employees across an 800 mile swath of California,” said White, explaining his decision on CNN. “We’re concerned about the epidemiology of the disease… You see another wave that, coupled with influenza, perhaps will be even more difficult in the moment than now. So if you have 500,000-plus people in close proximity on a daily basis interacting with each other, that’s not conducive to mitigating the spread of the disease.”

CSU is looking at a $337 million budget shortfall for the current spring term due to losses from student housing, parking and bookstores and more, as well as unexpected costs like in-depth cleaning and the pivot to distance learning.

And that is likely to accelerate with this news. The system has extended its deadline for students to submit their intentions to enroll and many say they are unsure if they want to pay full tuition for what they view as a lesser experience. Chancellor White has urged students not to delay their education.