Virtual Reality: Spring Semester to Be Onlinecsudhbulletin September 25, 2020 0 COMMENTS
Photo by Robert Rios.
By Daniel Tom, Staff Reporter
Additional reporting by Carlos Martinez, Robert Rios (Campus Editor), and Brenda Fernanda Verano (News Editor)
Welcome to five more months of the new (un) normal.
California State University Chancellor Timothy P. White announced Sept. 10 that all 23 CSU campuses will continue with mostly virtual instruction in the spring semester. That meant for the vast majority of CSUDH students nearly 18 months will pass between the last time, and the next time, they step foot on this campus.
This is the second time White has announced a virtual semester. On May 12, two months after the spring semester was disrupted by the suspension of in-person classes, White announced that the continued uncertainty around the pandemic meant the entire fall semester would be virtual with a few exceptions for certain classes.
Fast forward four months and the only thing certain is still uncertainty.
In his announcement, White mentioned administrative and logistical challenges, such as a fast-approaching deadline for campuses to publish spring 2021 classes, as one reason for the relatively early decision.
“The result of the decision being made four months prior to the start of the spring semester allows universities to plan their online course offerings for students ahead of time and to make other arrangements if necessary,” he said in his announcement.
The CSU’s accrediting body, the Western Association of Schools and Colleges (WASC) plays a big role in this as it requires each campus to seek authorization for courses offered virtually.
A predicted wave of coronavirus cases in October and November, larger than the summer resurgence, and another projected wave in March, 2021, were also factors, White said.
In a Sept. 11 statement, CSUDH President Thomas A. Parham assured the campus community that school administration is continuously working to support students and staff as we continue the virtual experience.
“Your administration and executive leadership will create a workable plan moving forward this spring and the university will continue to support students, faculty and staff.”
CSUDH Academic Senate Chair Laura Talamante believes this was the most responsible decision to make at this time.
“I think that it’s the right decision and that it was really important he made it at this stage,” Talamante said. “This allows both students, professors, and the staff to prepare as much as possible for the spring semester. And to start asking questions now about what’s working, where do we need to improve, how can we meet student needs, faculty, staff needs because everybody has had to make major adjustments to how they do their jobs and how learning and instruction takes place.”
Student reaction to the announcement was mixed.
“I’m very sad but at the same time, what can we do,” said senior psychology major Kimberly Ramirez. “We’re in the middle of a pandemic. Our safety comes first and I’m on board whether I like it or not. All we can do is adjust and be here for each other”
Fifth year senior John Otero, a film/media & television major, isn’t quite as resigned.
“It’s a bummer,” he said. “I really engage and accomplish more being able to meet in person with my peers and professors so I’m not looking forward to another semester of Zoom University.”
However, not everybody minds another semester at Zoom University.
“I can honestly say I enjoy online classes more than in person,” senior biology major Sylvia Sky said. “Not having to look for parking or rushing to work from class has brought my stress levels down. I find content provided during class more organized and easier to access because everything is online.”
No one knows how the rest of this year and early next year will unfold.
Will a safe and effective vaccine be readily available at some point during the spring semester?
Could we potentially return to campus after spring break? Will graduating seniors, for the second consecutive year not have an in-person commencement?
Whatever the answers to those questions ,this much is known: the decision to have a virtual spring semester means COVID-19 will continue to be a reality for all of us for at least eight more months.