Sac State announces virtual instruction for first two weeks of spring semester


Madeleine Beck

The university union pictured during the COVID-19 pandemic Oct. 25, 2020. Sacramento State announced the Spring 2022 semester would begin virtually during a surge of cases in Sacramento County. (Madeleine Beck)

Jordan Parker, editor in chief

Editor’s Note: 1/5/22 – This story has been updated to add that President Nelsen said in an email to students that the campus would remain open from January 24-February 6

Sacramento State President Robert Nelsen announced in a SacSend email Tuesday afternoon that the Spring 2022 semester would start online. Instruction will be held virtually from January 24 through February 6 with classes expected to resume in-person on February 7 because the county expects Omicron cases to spike on January 24, according to Nelsen’s email.

Sac State is the first CSU to make a temporary switch to online teaching as seven University of California schools make their transition to online over the next two weeks. UC Davis, just 20 miles west of Sacramento, started delivering instruction remotely on Monday, which will continue through Friday, Jan. 7. 

“We took the holiday break to consult with the administrative team, the cabinet team to cover all of our options and it quickly became apparent that the status quo wouldn’t suffice in keeping our students and staff safe,” Interim Provost Carlos Nevarez said in a phone call with The State Hornet.

Nevarez also said that faculty can petition to teach in-person the first two weeks of the semester but it must be approved by the dean of the professor’s respective college. 

“We decided that given our conversations with the county health officials that a spike was coming in the middle to late January and we needed to make a decision,” Nelsen said. “In discussions with them [county health] the numbers were triple what they were, their recommendation and our recommendation was that it was safest to resume instruction after the spike had dropped.”

According to the COVID-19 dashboard on Sacramento County Health website, the number of cases was 233 on Dec. 16 compared to the most recently reported 1,917 number of cases on Dec. 30. 

The New York Times coronavirus tracker reports that the 14-day test positivity rate in Sacramento County is currently at 6% with hospitalizations increasing by 23% over the same period of time.

“We care about our students and if we were to discover that it wasn’t a safe environment to return [to campus] after the two weeks, we would not return to campus,” Nelsen said. “But at this point, from all of the information from health officials, we think that it will be safe to return on February 7.” 

Nelsen said in his email to students that despite the temporary switch in instruction format, the campus would remain open during the two-week period.

International Relations major Robert Gonzalez said that he wasn’t surprised by the decision because of the rise in new variants and  cases, but he also said added would be frustrating if the transition were to extend longer than two weeks.

“I would be disappointed because President Nelsen continues to say that we aren’t going back online but that seems like the exact opposite,”  Gonzalez said. “If it were to be extended, there would be student backlash.”