Students and professors share how smoke closures changed their classes

Due to a two-week closure, changes were made in course schedules by professors


Emily Rabasto - The State Hornet

Sacramento State Residence Life Coordinator Edgardo Palomo wears a respirator mask as he treks through the smoke-filled campus walkways on Nov. 14. President Robert Nelsen announced for the third day in a row that campus will be closed Thursday due to the poor air quality from the smoke of the Camp Fire in Butte County.

Aaron Jackson

Sacramento State students and professors alike were impacted academically by an unexpected two-week campus closure caused by poor air quality.

Campus was closed for nearly two weeks due to smoke from the Camp Fire in Butte County, the deadliest wildfire in the country in a century.

Campus reopened Monday following Sac State President Robert Nelsen’s decision to keep campus closed through Thanksgiving break. The decision was reached in consultation with the Critical Response Team, which Nelsen said the university collaborated at length with.

The team was called in to make decisions about the closure and assure that critical operations continued without disruption.

RELATED: Nearby Camp Fire prompts closures, other action by Sac State

Administrators also said that the academic schedule would not be extended.

“Extending was never an option on the table,” said Brian Blomster, director of news and communications. “There’s a lot of things that would have to be taken into consideration.”

Nelsen also said that faculty would be unable to assign work and that assignments couldn’t be due until Monday when campus reopened. This forced many professors to change the way they organized the structure of their courses.

“In both of the courses I have that meet face to face, it caused us to lose material at the very end, so we won’t get as far as I wanted to,” said Brendan Lindsay, a history professor at Sac State. “My hope is that during the time off students didn’t lose touch with the course.”

While some professors canceled lectures and moved deadlines, others managed to keep their syllabi intact.

“In my economic geography class, I really haven’t had to change much at all,” said Robin Datel, a geography professor at Sac State. “Weekly assignments that I set out ended up being all due in the week after we resumed classes. It has not been terribly disruptive.”

RELATED: Sac State extends deadlines as a result of campus closure

Nelsen said these last couple weeks will be exceptionally stressful for many students as they attempt to complete the fall semester.   

“I understand that some students will struggle to manage their coursework for the final weeks of the semester, especially because the projects and tests are now due simultaneously,” Nelsen said. “I believe in our faculty and students and their resiliency.”

Still, there are many students who feel stressed about their academics as finals week approaches. Finals week will begin Dec. 10.

“A lot of my deadlines got canceled or moved which was nice,” said Ricardo Hernandez, a mechanical engineering major. “However, coming back into school, I did have a rough time adjusting and have been pretty stressed out.”

Some students say they used the time off to their advantage and got assignments done to relieve their workload moving forward.

“I continued doing some of my readings while keeping track of everything that was due and finished it,” said Cynthia Anguiano, an ethnic studies major at Sac State.

Nelsen also said that he hopes students who are struggling will seek the help of faculty, tutoring or the Counseling Center if needed.

“I plan on going in with full focus and force into finals, and am feeling confident,” Hernandez said.