University reviews remote options for upcoming fall

Following the CDC and health expert recommendations, the campus may remain closed for 2020 fall semester instruction

With ongoing concern and uncertainty surrounding the COVID-19 pandemic, Cal Poly Pomona is considering a few possible scenarios for the upcoming fall semester, including returning to in-person instruction, partially remote/hybrid classes or proceeding with fully remote instruction. 

According to the Office of Student Success, the university is following guidelines from health experts to make an appropriate decision. Though still in the process of finalizing a format for the fall 2020 semester, the Office of Student Success hopes to continue being flexible in response to the ever-changing situation while still providing a high-quality learning experience for students. 

CPP is known for its “learn by doing” philosophy, however, fulfilling this standard has proven to be challenging during virtual instruction. 

Students in activity-based classes still emphasize the need for the hands-on experience. 

“If the virus goes away by then (fall semester), I wouldn’t mind having online lectures (for precautionary reasons) as long as I can practice what I’m learning through in-person labs,” said fourth-year biotechnology student Mariela Santillan.

An overview of the state’s plans to lift restrictions and reopening economies, according to the Institute of Health Metrics and Evaluation.
Sarah Han | The Poly Post

In April, the U.S. Department of Education stated that CPP will be receiving $30.9 million as part of the financial relief package from the Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security (CARES) Act, with around $15.5 million designated for student emergency grants. 

The university is currently in the process of finalizing methods for allocating the grants, according to a university-wide email sent by President Soraya M. Coley on April 30. 

Under guidance from the federal government and the Cal State University (CSU) Chancellor’s Office, the university also announced two paid leave options for eligible employees, according to the Division of Administrative Affairs. Visit the CPP COVID-19 updates webpage for more information. 

In response to students’ demand for partial tuition refunds, the university also stated that it will not be issuing a refund for students enrolled in courses for academic credit as fees are being used for the continuity of instruction through the virtual format, according to the CPP COVID-19 updates webpage. It added that it is following the “guidance of the CSU Chancellor’s Office governing tuition and mandatory fees.”

Students, however, filed a class-action lawsuit against the CSU and the University of California systems on April 27, demanding refunds on facility and on-campus service fees. CPP has not yet made any comments or modifications to the refund policies.

COVID-19 progress: Global

The global COVID-19 case count reached over 3 million — with the U.S. accounting for a third of all cases as of May 3 — according to the Johns Hopkins Coronavirus Resource Center. 

During a press briefing on April 27, President Donald Trump released a blueprint that aims to assist states in scaling up testing as they begin to lift stay-at-home orders. The blueprint outlines guidance on maximizing testing platforms and venues, the ability to timely monitor local outbreaks and the development of rapid response programs.  

Trump added that he had a conference call with the governors and clarified that they had “everything they needed” in terms of testing and ventilators. According to the president, governors are delighted over the White House’s response to COVID-19. 

“I would say that (the governors) are as thrilled as they can be, considering the fact that there has been so much unnecessary death in this country,” Trump said during the press briefing. “It could have been stopped, and it could have been stopped short. But somebody a long time ago, it seems, decided not to do it that way. And the whole world is suffering because of it — 184 countries at least.” 

During the press briefing, the president also revealed that the administration is conducting “serious investigations” to hold China accountable for the spread of the virus that “could have been stopped at the source.” Intelligence agencies — like the National Security Agency, Defense Intelligence Agency and Central Intelligence Agency  — are currently collecting data to investigate whether China and the World Health Organization (WHO) hid information during the earlier days of the emerging pandemic, officials familiar with the matter told NBC News. 

On April 29, Trump told the reporters at the White House who asked about the investigation that information is “coming in” and that the administration is “not happy about it.”

“We are by far the largest contributors to WHO, and they misled us,” he told the reporters. “Right now, they’re literally a pipe organ for China. That’s the way I view it.”

On the same day, WHO Director-General Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus presented a timeline of the agency’s response to the pandemic since the report of a cluster of pneumonia cases in Wuhan, China on Dec. 30 of last year. In the media briefing, he explained that the WHO has acted quickly to warn the world. 

“We sounded the alarm early, and we sounded it often,” Adhanom Ghebreyesus said. “We said repeatedly that the world had a window of opportunity to prepare and to prevent widespread community transmission.” 

Though the investigations against China and WHO are ongoing, the U.S. intelligence community agrees with the scientific consensus that the virus was “not manmade or genetically modified,” according to a statement released by the Office of the Director of National Intelligence on April 30. 

The intelligence community is continuing to further examine “whether the outbreak began through contact with infected animals or if it was the result of an accident at a laboratory in Wuhan,” according to the statement. 

California

In California, there are 53,616 confirmed cases and 2,215 deaths as of May 3, according to the state Department of Public Health. 

On April 28, Gov. Gavin Newsom presented an outline of a four-stage reopening plan, urging all Californians to contribute in being a part of the solution. According to Newsom, the state is currently in stage one, practicing social distancing and working to increase testing capacity. 

The governor said the state hopes to advance to the second stage in the next few weeks, which involves reopening some lower-risk workplaces with adaptations. In a press briefing, Newsom said the state is “a week or two away from significant modifications on our stay-at-home order” to begin the second phase in reopening the economy.

The governor also acknowledged a “learning loss” due to major disruptions in the education systems, and said the state is considering reopening schools for in-person instruction by late July. Newsom also suggested cutting the summer break short to begin the fall school year earlier than usual. 

Newsom has also declared April 28, 2020 as “Workers’ Memorial Day” in California to honor frontline workers who lost their lives on the job. In the issued proclamation, the governor stated that the day will be a time to “renew our commitment to securing safe and healthy working conditions for all workers.” 

Los Angeles County

In Los Angeles County, there are 25,662 confirmed cases and 1,229 deaths as of May 3, according to the Los Angeles County Department of Public Health. With more testing available, the curve has begun to flatten in the city, said Mayor Eric Garcetti during a press conference on April 27.

Garcetti also announced on April 29 that all L.A. County residents, with or without symptoms, may now be tested for COVID-19 at no cost. 

“If you think you might have COVID-19, want the reassurance that you don’t, if you’ve been around people that you have seen with symptoms, get a test. We can do it,” Garcetti said during the press briefing. 

To schedule a testing appointment, visit https://lacovidprod.service-now.com/rrd.

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