CSU plans for in-person classes in fall 2021

Announcement reaffirmed a month later by chancellor Joseph Castro


Max Connor

Sacramento State students walking on campus by Mendocino Hall in September 2019. The California State University system’s chancellor Joseph Castro reaffirmed that the CSU plans to return to a majority in-person instruction for fall 2021 at the CSU Board of Trustees meeting Tuesday.

Chris Wong and Mercy Sosa

The California State University Chancellor Joseph Castro reaffirmed that the CSU plans to return to a majority in-person instruction for fall 2021 at the CSU Board of Trustees meeting Tuesday. 

The CSU system previously made an announcement via a press release sent Dec. 9, 2020 that the system plans to return to in-person instruction for fall 2021.

The CSU said in December that there is not enough evidence to make a decision on summer 2021 classes but will make a decision closer to the summer 2021 registration deadlines, according to the press release.

“Of course, the number and extent of in-person classes, University operations, and campus services will depend on the level of COVID-19 risk,” said Sacramento State President Robert Nelsen in a SacSend email sent Dec. 9, 2020. “But given the current progress with multiple vaccines, we believe that science will allow us to return safely to campus next fall.” 

Sophomore Tenyiah Washington said she has been able to work more during the virtual semester. Despite that, she said the semester has been very stressful and she struggled to learn anything. 

“I only want to go back if it’s safe to do so,” Washington said via Twitter direct message. “However, I am kind of excited to actually learn and have access to the resources and amenities that we’ve been paying for.”

Castro said in December that the CSU is planning for fall 2021 “with the goal of having the majority of our on-campus experiences returning.” 

The initial announcement came as the CSU application time period closed Dec. 15 and COVID-19 vaccine developments progressed.

“While we are currently going through a very difficult surge in the pandemic, there is light at the end of the tunnel with the promising progress on vaccines,” previous CSU Chancellor Timothy White said.

A record 31,510 students enrolled at Sac State for fall 2020 despite the virtual semester, according to Steven Salcido, associate vice president for student services and enrollment management systems.

Despite an increase in enrollment in the fall, a total of 650 students did not re-enroll for the spring semester according to Nelsen’s spring address. 

“What worries me is that we will lose enrollment,” Nelsen said.

White said providing advanced notice to students and families on virtual instruction decisions is critical. The CSU announced in September that the spring 2021 semester would be largely online. 

The virtual semester in fall 2020 generated some stressors for Sac State students, so the announcement of potential in-person classes caused excitement among students.

Nikki Gallegos, political science major, said returning to in-person classes with classmates and professors would help her academics and mental health and limit her technology use. 

“I have some of the best grades I’ve ever had but I don’t feel like I’m actually learning or retaining anything,” Gallegos said via Twitter direct message. “3 out of 5 of my classes are asynchronous and I have ADHD so keeping myself motivated is hard as it is.”

Gallegos said she has not been to a party since the first stay-at-home order, so seeing friends partying is extremely frustrating.

Photography and communications studies major Martell French said the college atmosphere at Sac State improves his mental health. He said he was drained mentally after midterm week and hoped the semester would end.

As the COVID-19 vaccine developments progress, Gallegos said she believes Sac State would require all students to get vaccinated. Schools can require that students are vaccinated to protect other students, and the COVID-19 vaccines should be added to that list of required vaccines, Gallegos said.

The CSU requires that students are up to date with vaccines for diseases like Measles and Chickenpox according to its immunization requirements in Executive Order 803. Exemptions are made based on medical considerations.

“Most people who don’t want the COVID-19 vaccine don’t wear a mask either,” Gallegos said.

Washington said Sac State should make all classes hybrid so students have the option to view classes via Zoom if they are unable to attend in person. She said it would probably be safe to close off other facilities to students who have not been vaccinated.

In his spring address, Nelsen said that because not everyone can or will be able to return to in-person classes immediately, flexible technology is needed for simultaneous online and in-person teaching. However, he said this technology will not be available for everyone.

“I do think students should have to get vaccinated for safety purposes, but I could understand if some aren’t comfortable getting them,” Washington said.

French suggested Sac State create a policy for individuals who did not take the vaccine to get a COVID-19 test once a week just to keep students and faculty safe if they don’t require students to get vaccines.

“I am unsure how they would do that because a lot of people have voiced their concerns about how they aren’t going to get the vaccine and it might cause some kind of controversy,” French said via Twitter direct message, regarding a requirement for Sac State students to get vaccinated.

Sac State has been approved by the state to receive and administer the COVID-19 vaccine as a vaccination site for Sacramento County Public Health according to Nelsen.

This article was originally published Dec. 9, 2020 and updated Jan. 26, 2021.