CSU announces all campuses, including Sac State, will hold most classes online in the fall

Some exceptions for hands-on classes


Screenshot via Livestream

The CSU Board of Trustees meets virtually on Zoom Tuesday, May 12, 2020. CSU Chancellor Tim White announced that classes will be primarily virtual with some exceptions for in-person activities that cannot be done virtually.

Kendra Rivera-Molina and Chris Wong

A majority of California State University classes will be held online in fall 2020 across all campuses, including Sacramento State, according to CSU Chancellor Timothy White. 

White confirmed at a CSU board of trustees meeting Tuesday that the CSU’s 23 campuses will hold almost all courses virtually. He said campuses will send more specific information later this month on plans for instruction.

White also said student housing availability will be reduced.

Some exceptions will be made for labs and activities to be held in person. Research laboratories will allow for individuals to use required equipment within the lab so long as rigorous health and safety measures are met.

White said examples of exceptions include:

  • Clinical classes for nursing students
  • Physical and life science labs essential for degree completion
  • Performing and creative arts classes that require access to “unique facilities” such as kilns 
  • Hands-on experiences with “unique instrumentation”
  • Senior Capstone projects in engineering, architecture and agriculture

Classes that require in-person instruction will reduce enrollment per class section and must follow social distancing requirements, according to White. Classes may have PPE requirements if appropriate.

CSU campuses have employed 3D printers that are producing plastic face shields in order to meet health and medical standards. There are also virtual knitting and crocheting classes at CSU Maritime Academy teaching sewing fabric face coverings for healthcare professionals. 

“It is wise to plan now and over the next several months with enriched training and improvements in virtual learning environments only to pull back a bit in the fall to more in-person as circumstances might allow,” White said in a CSU board of trustees meeting. 

The CSU developed the “Summer Institute,” which is a 3-week voluntary program for faculty and staff to learn how to support and engage with students more virtually according to Mary Papazian, president of San Jose University. The funding for the program is supported by the CARES act. 

In the board meeting, White said he understands the difficulty some students face when required courses can only be learned face to face. White said there will be a virtual planning approach, switching what would be necessary to do in person, to now in a completely virtual format.

“In this approach to virtual planning, it is necessary, because it might not be possible for some students, faculty and staff to safely travel to campus,” White said. “We should have the option of remote learning available throughout the curriculum to every extent possible.”

In a SacSend email sent Tuesday, Sac State President Robert Nelsen said faculty and staff will not be required to do in-person work for classes that receive exceptions to take place in person without their individual permission.

All such in-person work must be the choice of the individual,” Nelsen said in the email.

He also said students will not be required to take in-person classes in pursuit of their degrees. Students enrolled in classes that must take place in person must demonstrate a legitimate reason for not being able to participate in in-person classes and will be provided alternatives, Nelsen said.

UPDATE: Tuesday, May 12, 2020 3:56 p.m.

This story has been updated to reflect new information from Sac State President Robert Nelsen.