California State University system to continue online classes for fall semester

Most students won't be returning to campuses within the California State University System in the fall, the chancellor announced Tuesday, stating that classes will remain primarily online due to the COVID-19 pandemic.

Chancellor Timothy White released a statement saying predictions of possible surges in COVID-19 cases later in the year mandate steps to protect students and faculty.

Speaking to members of the CSU Board of Trustees during an online meeting, White said there will be "limited exceptions for in-person activities 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."

He said such exceptions could include clinical nursing classes, life-science laboratory courses and interactive architecture or engineering programs.

"But anything done on a campus this fall won't be as it was in the past, it will be different,'' White said. "... This is a new and expensive reality for us. For those limited courses where in-person instruction is indispensable and can be justified, enrollment per section will be less.''

He said social-distancing guidelines will also be mandated, along with personal protective equipment and heightened cleaning standards.

When asked whether on-campus housing would be available for students, specifically for those who live out of state, CSU officials told FOX 11, "campus-specific plans are being finalized and each of campuses will communicate to students about the prospective availability and necessity of housing in the coming weeks."

An official with the chancellor's office added that out of state students only account for about four or five percent of the entire student population, but "it is something that the campuses would address in their individual plans."

The CSU system moved to a "virtual mode" in mid-March as the coronavirus pandemic heightened. White said planning for the fall term has focused almost exclusively on continued virtual learning, based on experts' predictions about the virus' continued impact. He said infections and deaths are "beginning to plateau or subside in some, but not all, regions of California."

"The nonpartisan academic researchers and medical and public health experts forecast a second smaller wave later in summer, followed by a very significant wave coupled with influenza forecast for late fall, and another wave in the first quarter of 2021,'' White told the board. "Experts also point out that immunity in the population is now approaching the 2 to 3% range, and needs to be in the 60 to 80% percent range to begin to achieve the so-called 'herd immunity.' That won't happen in the next 18 months, and there's no vaccine yet. And while hope springs eternal, it is unlikely that one will become widely available during the coming academic year."

CNS contributed to this report.