From the desk of the Executive Director, Elizabeth Marlow
Very big news for the class of 2020, college may be offered only online for Fall 2020.
High school seniors preparing to enter college do not know yet what to expect. Uncertainty looms for all incoming and continuing college students as enrollment for the start the 2020-2021 school year approaches. Universities have yet to announce final decisions for how instruction will be provided this fall. Continue reading to see the latest updates from California colleges.
Dr. Anthony Fauci (the nation’s top infectious disease expert) acknowledged the painful tradeoffs that come with closing schools to protect the broader public’s health. When he was asked whether he thought schools shouldn’t reopen in the fall, he said he expected decisions would vary, depending on what the outbreak looks like locally in a few months. “We’ll just have to see on a step-by-step basis,” he said. “We have a very large country, and the dynamics of the outbreak are different in different regions of the country, so I would imagine that situations regarding school will be very different in one region versus another.”
When colleges shift online, many facets of campus student life are impacted, not just in-class instruction. Social-distancing and online teaching will impact on-campus living, collegiate athletics, academic counseling and tutoring, student support services, and any group or large student event. For the class of 2020, they have seen their chosen universities already cancel their admitted student days when prospective students are invited to campus for a day of events to learn more about the college.
California campuses have announced some plans for Fall 2020, including:
- 23 campuses of the California State University (CSU) system, which includes Sacramento State, announced Fall 2020 will be online. On Tuesday, at a meeting of the California State University (CSU) Board of Trustees, Chancellor Timothy P. White announced that all CSU campuses will deliver the vast majority of instruction virtually for the fall 2020 semester. He left open the possibility for a small number of courses to be offered in-person with rigorous standards for health and safety.
- Community Colleges: Locally, Sierra College was the first to announce online plans. This week, the other local five community colleges of the Los Rios District announced online Fall 2020 plans for the campuses of American River, Cosumnes River, Folsom Lake and Sacramento City. In addition, nine colleges in the Los Angeles Community College District, Santa Monica College, College of the Desert and Santa Rosa Junior College, announced Fall 2020 online terms.
- UC campuses have yet to announce plans for the fall, a decision is likely expected next week. Comments that have come out include that all 10 campuses across the state will “likely” not fully re-open in fall and individual campuses are studying different plans for how to reopen for on-site instruction when it is safe to do so.
- Private California Colleges: California’s private, non-profit colleges award about a fifth of the state’s bachelor’s degrees. Each campus will announce their own plans for Fall 2020. A positive for the smaller colleges – they may be more nimble and ready to react more quickly to changes in providing students education.
All college students enrolling in Fall 2020 should keep up to date with information directly provided by their chosen university. Each campus and academic departments have different responses or capabilities.
CSU is the largest four-year public university system in the USA. Edsource headline on Tuesday, “First in nation, California State University to close campuses for in-person instruction this fall. Exceptions will be made for labs and nursing classes, but they will have restrictions.” CSU Chancellor Timothy P. White’s Statement on Fall 2020 University Operational Plans on 5/12/2020 said, ‘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. 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. Virtual planning is necessary because it might not be possible for some students, faculty and staff to safely travel to campus. Said another way, this virtual planning approach preserves as many options for as many students as possible.”
Officials at Sierra College, said “Making this decision early allows us to better prepare for online learning and gives staff more time to prepare for this format. With the potential for a resurgence of the virus in the fall, students will not have to worry about making an abrupt transition to remote learning.”
The local Los Rios Community College District decision to move all courses online for the Fall 2020 semester affects the district’s 75,000 students from four colleges: American River, Cosumnes River, Folsom Lake and Sacramento City. “With news in the past couple weeks from the Governor’s Office that social distancing guidelines are likely to be in place this Fall, we have all expressed concerns about our district and colleges’ capacity to operationalize those measures at scale,” the message to students read. “We also recognize that it is highly unlikely that we will have access to the testing, contact-tracing, or personal protective equipment necessary to open our campuses broadly.”
The UC Board of Regents is meeting next week and is expected to discuss plans for the fall. At the University of California, which has 10 campuses across the state, “it’s likely none of our campuses will fully re-open in fall,” Stett Holbrook, a spokesperson for UC, told CNN in an email. UC system, individual campuses are studying different plans for the fall and ways to reopen. UC spokesperson 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.
Dr. Anthony Fauci reported to Congress on Tuesday and said, “We don’t know everything about this virus and we really better be very careful, particularly when it comes to children, because the more and more we learn, we’re seeing things about what this virus can do.” Robert Redfield, the director of the CDC who also testified before the committee on Tuesday, said that the availability of testing and contact tracing will drive decisions about reopening schools, colleges and the economy at large.
“The idea of having treatments available, or a vaccination, to facilitate the reentry of students into the fall term would be something that would be a bit of a bridge too far,” Dr. Anthony Fauci, “But even at the top speed we’re going, we don’t see a vaccine playing in the ability of individuals to get back to school this term.”
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