CSU cancels fall in-person classes: What you need to know

A student bikes past the Walter Pyramid at Cal State Long Beach. This fall, the vast majority of CSU classes will be online only.
(Jason Armond / Los Angeles Times)

The nation’s largest university system -- California State University -- plans to cancel most in-person classes in the fall and instead offer instruction primarily online.

Chancellor Timothy White said the decision is aimed at protecting students amid uncertainty about coronavirus and its potential spread this fall.

Here are the basics:

What’s the plan?

  • The vast majority of classes across the 23-campus Cal State system will be taught online, White said, with some limited exceptions that allow for in-person activity.
  • The small number of classes where in-person instruction is “indispensable and can be justified” — such as clinical nursing courses, biology labs or merchant marine training — sufficient resources and protocols will have to be in place to ensure the health and safety of students and teachers.
  • On some campuses and within some departments, course offerings will be exclusively virtual. At others that rely heavily on hands-on experience, there may be more exceptions.
  • CSU students and families, along with faculty and staff, can expect to receive more information this month from their respective campuses about instruction in the fall.
  • Availability of on-campus housing will be reduced, and student athletes shouldn’t expect to resume regular sports before faculty and students return to campuses, White said.

Why this move?

  • The university system lacks the resources to provide coronavirus testing for everybody and to trace the contacts of infected people should there be an outbreak on a campus.
  • White said planning for an online fall term was necessary because additional waves of COVID-19 outbreaks are forecast for later this year, possibly coupled with a difficult flu season. He said it would be “irresponsible” to wait until August to make a decision, only to “scramble and not be prepared to provide a robust learning and support environment.”

What about the University of California?

  • UC officials are examining the parameters of what it would take to open their campuses and are expected to announce plans in June or July. UC spokeswoman Claire Doan reiterated Tuesday that campuses were exploring a “mixed approach with some instruction delivered in classroom and lab settings, while other classes will be primarily online.”
  • President Janet Napolitano said campuses will first be required to satisfy systemwide guidelines to ensure public health and safety, and any reopening “will probably be greatly reduced.”