Most students at Fresno State and the other 22 California State University campuses will continue with online instruction in the spring 2021 semester, chancellor Timothy P. White announced Thursday.
White made the announcement in an open letter addressed to faculty, students, and staff.
The CSU announcement comes on the heels of one last week by State Center Community College District that online classes would continue to the spring 2021 semester. The early decision was made to give students and staff time to plan, chancellor Paul Parnell told GV Wire℠.
CSU’s decision was made more than three months before the start of the spring semester to give staffers and students time to plan, White said. It’s the same strategy the CSU followed when announcing that the fall 2020 semester would be online and not on-campus, he said.
CSU Enrollments Are Up
“The early decision enabled students and their families to plan appropriately, and I am pleased to note that preliminary fall term enrollment numbers are strong across the system, with a few exceptions,” he wrote.
Fresno State enrolled its largest incoming class in its history, with about 3,700 freshmen and almost 2,800 transfer students, spokeswoman Lisa Bell said. By comparison, she said, the incoming class in the fall 2019 semester including 3,334 freshmen and 1,996 transfer students.
“I fully understand this decision may be difficult to process initially and, for some, to accept,” Castro said in a statement to the university community. “But I also continue to believe the best way to weather challenges is to first know what we are facing.” — Fresno State President Joseph I. Castro
White said the CSU also was required by its accrediting agency, the Western Association of Colleges and Schools, to seek authorization for classes offered online. The U.S. Department of Education waived the requirement for the fall 2020 semester, but it will be required for spring semester, so colleges need to commit to their academic schedules by this month or next.
Pandemic Danger Continues
The CSU’s decision also reflects the knowledge that the COVID-19 pandemic, which caused campuses to close in March to slow the spread of the virus, will be around for some time to come, White said.
Socialization that occurred around Labor Day combined with the exodus and relocations of tens of thousands of people fleeing the Creek Fire may cause infection rates to skyrocket again, so it’s important to keep large groups of people from gathering, which typically occurs when college campuses are open, he said.
Some Fresno State classes may be in-person in the spring semester, with a limited number of students in campus housing, President Joseph I. Castro said Thursday. He said he has asked provost Saúl Jiménez-Sandoval and vice president Debbie Adishian-Astone to reconvene the planning task force that created a plan for the fall semester and devise one for spring 2021.
“I fully understand this decision may be difficult to process initially and, for some, to accept,” Castro said in a statement to the university community. “But I also continue to believe the best way to weather challenges is to first know what we are facing.”
Chancellor White’s Letter