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CSULB to continue alternative teaching methods into the fall

Updated at 4:57 p.m.

President Jane Close Conoley has confirmed that Long Beach State will continue with remote delivery into the fall 2020 semester.

“All of us look forward to the full reuniting of the Beach family on campus, but until that day comes, we will continue to rally and deliver, largely through alternative means, the education and services for which we are so well known,” Conoley said. “The core of our university remains steady, but we’ll look and feel different for at least the first eight weeks of the semester.”

Conoley said the university has decided to continue with alternative teaching methods to ensure the health and safety of all students and staff, in particular those with pre-existing medical conditions and those over the age of 65.

“Our aggressive action this past spring in pivoting to remote instruction was responsible for keeping COVID-19 from spreading widely across our campus,” Conoley said. “It likely also protected members of our larger community by greatly reducing population density, thus reducing transmission risk.”

Exceptions to the campus-wide decision will be made on a case-by-case basis, according to Conoley. Smaller classes and hybridization of courses may be allowed for certain academic majors or student groups.

The number of students living in the dorms and accessing the dining halls will most likely be cut in half, Conoley said.

Modifications to on-campus dining options to ensure the health and safety of the campus community will also be made in the upcoming months.

Conoley said that the classification of “essential staff” will be re-examined once the safer-at-home regulation is lifted. The return of employees will be made in a slow, calculated manner to maintain social distancing practices and health standards.

A hiring freeze will be put into place for the foreseeable future, Conoley said, due to economic losses incurred after the campus initially went virtual in March.

Although the campus’ appearance will be much different come fall, Conoley ensured that the school is still dedicated to maintaining its academic standards and promises to students.

“Our educational mission, our commitment to inclusive excellence, and our campus values associated with teaching and learning, diversity, compassion, creativity and innovation, and responsibility for the public good are not changed,” Conoley said.

Originally posted at 2:52 p.m.

California State University system Chancellor Timothy P. White announced Tuesday that all 23 campuses in the system will continue with their alternative teaching methods throughout the fall 2020 semester.

“I underscore today that moving forward the CSU will continue to be committed to courageously doing the right thing,” White said. “We will stay the course, but we won’t stay the same.”

White said that the decision comes from medical experts’ recommendations and warnings of a second wave of infections and lack of immunity in the face of no vaccine having been developed yet.

Some exceptions will be made, the chancellor said, for certain degree programs and classes that require more hands-on, laboratory courses. Nursing, biology and other sciences were some programs he mentioned.

These exceptions would only be made, White said, if specific health and safety regulations were put into place before students and faculty were to return to the campus.

“Anything done on campus this fall won’t be as it was in the past,” White said. “Meeting rigorous and standards of safety and welfare, this is a new and expensive reality for us.”

The return to campus has been something that President Jane Close Conoley said she and the administration at Long Beach State have been wrestling with for months.

“My hopes are quite distinct from the realities we’ll face,” Conoley had said before White’s announcement. “I think we’ll be primarily remote for at least the first eight weeks and I hope there will be no spike in infections and that we can reduce precautionary measures after October.”

White said that the CSU system has yet to develop a plan for upcoming semesters beyond the fall, but maintained that it would’ve been “irresponsible” for them to wait to make decisions for the fall.

“I hope that our approach to planning for the next academic year turns out not to be as necessary as it now appears,” White said. “In other words, I hope we are wrong.”

Each campus will have its own set of exceptions according to White, but he maintained that all 23 campuses will remain predominantly virtual through the end of the fall 2020 semester.

Hybridization of courses or fully virtual campuses will come at the discretion of campus leaders and guidance from health officials.

“The CSU acknowledges that our decisions positively affect the communities with which our campuses are interconnected by minimizing the spread of COVID-19,” White said. “And yet, also negatively affect local economies by impacting commerce and reducing the availability of cultural and athletic events.”

Provost Brian Jersky said earlier today in a teleconference that CSULB will continue to place students’ education first.

“They’ll see the classes, they’ll be admitted to the classes and they’ll get the education that they deserve,” Jersky said.

Both Jersky and White touched on the upcoming budget crisis the CSU system will be facing.

Assemblymember Patrick O’Donnell said in the teleconference with Jersky that the entire system could be looking at upwards of $54.3 billion in losses, with CSULB facing anywhere between 5% to 10% budget cuts.

White said that the economic effects from coronavirus will be felt in the CSU system for “years.”

In the upcoming weeks, each campus will be communicating with its community-specific plans moving forward, according to White.

“Our university, when opened 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,” White said. “That approach, sadly, just isn’t in the cards now.”

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