Cal State University Long Beach Public Affairs
Most classes at Cal State Long Beach and the other 22 CSU campuses will continue being held online this fall.

Most classes across the California State University system will continue to be held online through the fall because of the spread of the coronavirus, Chancellor Tim White said Tuesday.

Keeping classes online is necessary because of “evolving data surrounding the progression” of the virus, White said during a CSU trustee meeting, alluding to public health experts forecasting further waves of the virus later this year. He left the door open, however, to resuming some in-person classes “as circumstances might allow.”

There also will be “limited exceptions” for courses across the 23-campus system that can’t be delivered virtually, such as essential lab courses and clinical classes for nursing students, White said. Those classes will have restrictions, such as social distancing and fewer students. 

“Our university, when open without restrictions and fully in person, as is the traditional norm of the past, is a place where over 500,000 people come together in close and vibrant proximity with each other on a daily basis,” he said. “That approach, sadly, just isn’t in the cards now as I have described.”

White’s announcement came shortly after federal health officials said Tuesday that it’s possible that colleges and schools across the country could reopen in the fall if there is widespread testing, social distancing and sound hygiene. The decision by CSU, the nation’s largest four-year public university system, will no doubt be watched by other university systems nationwide.

The state’s other four-year public university system, the 10-campus University of California, was not prepared on Tuesday to immediately follow CSU’s example, a spokeswoman said. 

“We are exploring a mixed approach with some material delivered in classroom and labs settings while other classes will continue to be online,” Claire Doan said in an email to EdSource. “Our campuses will reopen for on-site instruction when it is safe to do so — in coordination with federal, state and local health departments and authorities.”

Classes across the UC system have been online since March. The UC Board of Regents is meeting next week and is expected to discuss plans for the fall. So far, UC San Diego has announced a massive coronavirus testing plan for students, faculty and staff. UC San Diego this week is starting testing for the 5,000 students currently on campus, with plans to expand that to all 65,000 students, faculty and staff in the fall. That campus is aided by having its own medical center.

The other public higher education segment in California, the California community college system, also has not reached a systemwide decision about whether classes will be held virtually in the fall. However, several individual colleges including the nine colleges of the Los Angeles Community College District have already announced plans to hold most classes online in the fall.

“We haven’t issued any formal guidance for 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 in the California community college system.

Classes across the CSU system, which enrolls about 480,000 undergraduate students, have been conducted virtually since March in an effort to slow the spread of the coronavirus, which causes the COVID-19 disease. 

During Tuesday’s trustee meeting, White said academic researchers and public health experts are forecasting a “second, smaller wave” of the virus this summer, “followed by a very significant wave” in the fall. At the same time, he said it is unlikely that a vaccine for the virus will become widely available during the upcoming academic year.

Consequently, our planning approach will result in CSU courses primarily being delivered virtually for the fall 2020 term,” he said.

There will be exceptions for classes that “cannot be delivered virtually, are indispensable to the university’s core mission and can be conducted within the rigorous standards of safety and welfare,” White added. 

Those courses include science lab classes that enable degree completion; clinical classes for nursing students that keep them on track to earn licenses to enter the healthcare workforce; and hands-on learning for engineering, agriculture and architecture students. 

White added, though, that those classes won’t be the same as they were before the coronavirus pandemic. The number of students in each in-person class will decrease. Lab classes will require greater distancing between participants. And there will be more rigorous sanitizing and disinfecting of spaces and equipment. 

White said it’s possible that the system could ease restrictions on other in-person classes depending on how the public health situation evolves.

“It would be irresponsible to approach it the other way around and wait until August to only then scramble and not be prepared to provide a learning environment for our students,” he said.

With the system facing possible enrollment declines because of the virus, White on Tuesday also urged students “not to decline the opportunity to attend a CSU campus.”

“CSU faculty, staff and administrators will be well-prepared to deliver an even more comprehensive and robust virtual education experience for students in fall 2020 including extensive academic and student support,” he said.

In the UC system, individual campuses are studying different plans for the fall and ways to reopen.

For example, UC Irvine is preparing for a hybrid situation, with a mixture of online and in-person classes and attempts to house as many students in dorms as safely possible, according to its chancellor Howard Gillman.

“Most classes will be offered remotely, either as the only option or a complement to in-person instruction. We are doing everything possible to prepare classrooms for in-person instruction, but it’s too early to determine which courses will be ready for traditional on-site learning,” Gillman said in an announcement. It is likely that small graduate seminars, and undergraduate lab and studio classes will be face-to-face and that large lecture courses may be more often online, he said.

Staff writer Larry Gordon contributed to this report. 

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  1. Anonymous Teacher 5 months ago5 months ago

    Do I get paid for the time it takes to convert my live classes to online recordings?

  2. Kathleen Whitener 6 months ago6 months ago

    I think universities in California staying closed is a bad decision! I hope you will follow the majority of universities across the nation and reopen! So many problems with what you are doing while most of the world is going to be opening back up. I agree with a previous comment, COVID is here to stay. We need to get back to regular life and this mass hysteria has to end at some point. It is … Read More

    I think universities in California staying closed is a bad decision! I hope you will follow the majority of universities across the nation and reopen! So many problems with what you are doing while most of the world is going to be opening back up.

    I agree with a previous comment, COVID is here to stay. We need to get back to regular life and this mass hysteria has to end at some point. It is arrogant for those in charge to think that other universities will follow suit based on what California universities do! Open your eyes! People are going back to school in the fall! Very few people want to pay to sit there in a room at home and teach themselves.

    All in all fatalities from COVID-19 are very low and it’s unfortunate that the fatalities that are being recorded are skewed! The more people who get the antibodies, the less of a danger this is; it’s called herd immunity. One day in history we’re going to look back on this and realize what a huge mistake all of this was and how it could have been handled so much better!

    In fact those of us who are taking the time to really dig for the facts already know the truth. Experts are not fortune-tellers; they absolutely have no idea what is going to happen in the future.

  3. EL 7 months ago7 months ago

    I truly hope CSU reconsiders their decision. Covid is here to stay. If schools such as NYU, in the midst of Manhattan can open, then so can the CSUs in sunny California. It's obvious that Chancellor White wanted to be at the forefront of the education system by setting the trend of going online, and lo and behold, no one followed suit. Because primarily, these other institutions cared about their students. They cared about the … Read More

    I truly hope CSU reconsiders their decision. Covid is here to stay. If schools such as NYU, in the midst of Manhattan can open, then so can the CSUs in sunny California. It’s obvious that Chancellor White wanted to be at the forefront of the education system by setting the trend of going online, and lo and behold, no one followed suit. Because primarily, these other institutions cared about their students. They cared about the fact that a student cannot learn stuck behind a virtual screen.

    Virtual “anything” is never as effective as the tangible. Think about the last time you were out on a beach: the way the sand felt on your bare feet, the way the ocean smelled, the sound, the sun. Now think about the many times you have seen the ocean on a screen. Does the memory of something seen behind a screen move you? Does it make you “feel?” Virtual learning is the same way. Virtual learning is forgettable and ineffective. These students deserve better. Many are from underprivileged families and taking the leap into higher education is a huge feat. Make that leap worth it for them!

    I am quoting the president of Claremont McKenna Hiram Chodosh where he said: “I view us as dancing with the coronavirus. This is going to be with us forever, even once we find a vaccine. We just need to learn how to manage it in a way that allows life to go on.”

    Beautiful truth!

    CSU should reconsider their decision and show that they care about their students!

  4. Michelle Willhelm 7 months ago7 months ago

    This is outrageous! This decision was made wayyyy to fast! Meanwhile everything is opening, dentists, casinos, other schools (most), etc, etc, everything. These students deserve to be in class focused and being taught not to mention the poor response from guidance! Let these young adults go back in the fall while everyone else will be in classes! Jumped the gun!!

    Replies

    • Kathleen Whitener 6 months ago6 months ago

      There’s a lot of us out there who agree! Maybe a miracle happened and they will reopen! Decisions like this are completely ignorant and make absolutely no sense!

  5. David Thacker 7 months ago7 months ago

    This is absurd. The facts and statistics regarding this “pandemic” do not indicate unsafe classroom instruction. People get sick. People die. Most all deaths blamed on Covid19 are most likely due to other and preexisting maladies.
    Open the Colleges!

  6. kevin nadin 7 months ago7 months ago

    This is a decision based on fear, not science. The CSU system needs to do more research on the effect of this closure. I am watching my daughter navigate the virtual classroom in real time, some of the instructors have checked out because they are not prepared.

  7. G. Hernandez 7 months ago7 months ago

    With Fall 2020 so far into the future and so much uncertainty around the virus, clearly this is no longer a virus issue. Governor Newsom's $18 billion education budget cut for 2020/2021 is driving the decision not to re-open schools at all levels across the state. What they don't see is the massive decline in enrollment that will result by not opening. furthering the funding problem. The Governor's self-inflicted economic woes (shutting down the state's … Read More

    With Fall 2020 so far into the future and so much uncertainty around the virus, clearly this is no longer a virus issue. Governor Newsom’s $18 billion education budget cut for 2020/2021 is driving the decision not to re-open schools at all levels across the state. What they don’t see is the massive decline in enrollment that will result by not opening. furthering the funding problem.

    The Governor’s self-inflicted economic woes (shutting down the state’s economy for political gain) is the driver behind these “early” decisions. Sadly the decisions made will plunge them deeper into the hole funding-wise.

  8. Dan Murphy 7 months ago7 months ago

    Mitch,

    Please consider doing the research and writing an article on how Cal State closing will cost the state of California. One of the biggest revenue streams of universities is the rooming charges for dorm rooms and cafeterias. Also, who would ever pay full rate tuition only to take classes on line? Freshman enrollment will end being down when other schools open. All for what good? Students this age very very unlikely to affected by this virus.

  9. JILL 7 months ago7 months ago

    Will we still have to pay out of state tuition?

  10. Barry F 7 months ago7 months ago

    My son attends CSU. He's required to pay health fees for a clinic that is closed, student union fees for no student union, sports fees for no sports. What next? Parking fees when he can't park? This semester was a joke. His physics labs were all but canceled. Students are getting passed through without getting a good education due to online courses. In-person education is far superior to … Read More

    My son attends CSU. He’s required to pay health fees for a clinic that is closed, student union fees for no student union, sports fees for no sports. What next? Parking fees when he can’t park?

    This semester was a joke. His physics labs were all but canceled. Students are getting passed through without getting a good education due to online courses. In-person education is far superior to online courses, especially when the professors do such a poor job preparing to teach them online.

  11. Rmessenger 7 months ago7 months ago

    What a terrible idea! Don’t we have any smart, innovative people in our California educational system that can find a way to allow our students to return to class. Either they are political or plain lazy

    Replies

    • KD 7 months ago7 months ago

      Apparently you are not a professor expected to deliver instruction online. As a professor, I can assure you that this is not the easy way out. It is much less work for faculty members to physically show up in a classroom than adequate prepare for online instruction. Also, as someone with a compromised immune system out of no fault of my own, I can appreciate that the university is not putting me … Read More

      Apparently you are not a professor expected to deliver instruction online. As a professor, I can assure you that this is not the easy way out. It is much less work for faculty members to physically show up in a classroom than adequate prepare for online instruction.

      Also, as someone with a compromised immune system out of no fault of my own, I can appreciate that the university is not putting me or others at risk by sharing spaces with thousands of people each day. Having various communications over the past couple of months, this was not a decision that was taken lightly.

      • David T 7 months ago7 months ago

        KD,
        Due respect for you.
        Whenever there are people congregating, socially, at work, or in class, there will be illness spread. The regular flu kills also.
        There is no need to close the earth because some will die of that which may occur. What is the end game here? Close the earth every time we may have illness and death in relatively small numbers? Do you even want to live in that kind of society?

        • Kathleen Whitener 6 months ago6 months ago

          Bravo

  12. Laura Dunkin 7 months ago7 months ago

    Such a hard time, especially for our high school seniors. I wish that they would have waited to make this announcement until after the seniors had finished their AP tests!

  13. Jasmine Smith 7 months ago7 months ago

    My student, who is a senior, will not be attending the California universities she was admitted to until they are open for in person instruction. Online classes are a joke, and we will not be wasting our money on them. Why pay university fees if she can enroll in community colleges courses online for a fraction of the price. Good luck to the CSU and UC systems. I see bankruptcy in the future for them.

    Replies

    • Alexis Tipton 7 months ago7 months ago

      You have no understanding of how state-funded universities work. You better hope the CSU and UC do not go bankrupt – that would mean the actual State of California would have to go bankrupt first. What a mean-spirited thing for you to say.

      • 3Percenter 7 months ago7 months ago

        You say that as if it would be a bad thing. Decades of fiscal mismanagement (ridiculous state employee pensions, financial incentives to illegal aliens, etc) are coming home to roost regardless. The last straw that has already broken California’s back is the treasonous action by Governor Newsom to seize dictatorial power and force California’s source of revenue (small businesses) to close indefinitely. It’s going to be utterly amusing to watch these pathetic idiots in our legislature … Read More

        You say that as if it would be a bad thing. Decades of fiscal mismanagement (ridiculous state employee pensions, financial incentives to illegal aliens, etc) are coming home to roost regardless.

        The last straw that has already broken California’s back is the treasonous action by Governor Newsom to seize dictatorial power and force California’s source of revenue (small businesses) to close indefinitely.

        It’s going to be utterly amusing to watch these pathetic idiots in our legislature try to balance the budget next month. As they will never even consider spending cuts, we will watch in amazement as the last few remaining employed will be forced to pay even higher taxes. This of course will lead to flight and an ever shrinking population to tax.

        Bottom line, if California’s economy is not restarted immediately, we will be looking like Caracas by this time next year.

  14. Randy Barker 7 months ago7 months ago

    Any mention of fall sports?

  15. Sande St. John 7 months ago7 months ago

    Appreciate your in-depth reporting.