By Cynthia Hubert
Most classes at Sacramento State and across the CSU system will continue to be delivered online during the Fall 2020 semester, an extraordinary decision aimed at helping to stem spread of the coronavirus.
Potential exceptions include some nursing classes and science labs, and some performing and creative arts courses, said CSU Chancellor Timothy P. White.
Although circumstances will vary at each of the system’s 23 campuses, face-to-face learning will be strictly limited, White told CSU’s Board of Trustees on Tuesday. Classes that are conducted in person will be done so while meeting rigorous standards for safety and welfare, said White.
In a message to the Sac State community Tuesday, President Robert S. Nelsen said the “vast, vast majority” of classes will be virtual in the fall. The administration will consult with the Faculty Senate, Associated Students Inc. and other groups about specific plans, he said.
“We will, eventually, be back physically together as a Hornet Family,” he said. “For now, we are together spiritually, totally in support of one another.”
Sac State and its nearly 32,000 students and more than 1,700 faculty members pivoted entirely to online learning in the middle of March. Although the ensuing changes were difficult to navigate at first, most have adapted well, administrators have said.
Few Sac State students have withdrawn since the campus went entirely virtual, statistics show, and enrollment in summer classes is at a historic high.
“What once was considered an alternative concept now has become a very attractive method of teaching,” said graduation czar James Dragna. “Faculty members are being quite innovative in their approaches, and we could not have anticipated that students would engage as well as they have. What the faculty has done literally is heroic.”
Faculty members are using Zoom and other platforms to deliver lectures and conduct lab studies, and are frequently checking in with students to encourage them to continue on their paths toward graduation.
White emphasized that the CSU, the nation’s largest four-year public university system, remains committed to giving students the richest possible educational experience despite the chaos wrought by the pandemic.
He said continuing to deliver courses primarily online in the fall is “the right thing to do,” and is “consistent with our guiding principle of meeting students where they are.”
Although some may argue that “we are moving too fast in our planning,” he said, it would be unwise to wait until August when faculty return from summer break to make decisions about fall classes.
“It is wise to plan now and over the next several months with enriched training and improvements in virtual learning environments coupled with robust academic and student support,” he said.
He advised students, ongoing and new, to continue pushing forward.
“This is the moment to persist, to take that very important first or next step to a degree that promises a lifetime of upward economic and social mobility for students, their families and their communities,” he said.