Cal Poly Pomona’s 2021 spring semester will resemble the fall term with most classes held online, according to a California State University Chancellor’s Office announcement made on Sept. 10.
Chancellor Timothy White’s order, affecting all 23 CSU campuses, puts the nation’s largest public university system in the unprecedented position of shifting to virtual instruction for more than a year, as the world continues to endure the COVID-19 pandemic.
As with the fall term, White stated that there will be “variability across campuses depending on their unique and particular circumstances.”
For CPP, situated in the county that has seen both the nation’s highest confirmed cases and deaths, the enforcement of virtual instruction is expected to remain strict, with few courses approved for an in-person component, according to Associate Provost Sep Eskandari.
CPP students have expressed mixed feelings about remaining online for the academic year. Matthew Ponce, a fourth year business accounting student, lives at home with his brother’s two children that he helps raise while completing his online courses. While disappointed that his final year will remain remote, Ponce agrees with the rationale behind the decision.
“I feel like Pomona is doing a good job by making us go online; it’s showing the importance of our safety,” said Ponce.
Most of the courses that have been approved to be conducted partially in person are at the graduate level. These courses include labs and animal science programs that had rigorous accreditation requirements.
“We are still in a place where we have to really put the safety of all the campus members at the highest priority, which is what we did in fall,” said Eskandari.
The fall courses approved to have an in-person component had strict comprehensive safety plans that followed the L.A. County Health Department and include social distancing and logging information for contact tracing purposes, health screenings and maintaining back-up plans for students who cannot make it onto campus.
In person courses are approved by a team of individuals that consist of the Provost, Student Affairs, the Risk Management Department and Student Health and Wellbeing department.
Eskandari agrees with the decision for online learning given by the LA County Health Department reporting continued spread of the virus. He emphasized that despite this decision, CPP will assure that additional courses be available for students during spring term.
“We wanted to make sure that no student is delayed in terms of their progress toward their
degree as a result of the pandemic so we have the full spectrum of the classes that we normally
offer,” said Eskandari.
Professors continue to adapt as over 1,300 faculty members have accessed ongoing workshops
through the Center for Advancement of Faculty Excellence.
Alison Pearlman, art history professor at CPP, found that she is regularly updated with fresh opportunities and information on how best to accommodate students in the online environment.
Still, she noted some drawbacks.
“What’s most difficult has been the technology, just the connection and also not being able to get
a feel for the room like you used to do when you’re face to face,” said Pearlman.
Unfortunately, due to covid restrictions, Pearlman is no longer able to send students to complete
the interactive assignment through visiting local museums to view artwork. This, she said, has
partly affected the dynamic of her class.
“That’s a sad loss right now, is that component of our classes because there is no substitute for
visiting works of art in the flesh,” said Pearlman.
Yadira Jimenez, a fourth year psychology major, also misses the classroom setting. At home, she has
younger siblings who contribute to loud background noise. Despite this, she is content with the university’s decision.
“It’s obviously less exposure and we all have people at home who may or may not have underlying
diseases, so CPP made the right decision in looking out for us. It does affect our education but I believe our health should come first,” said Jimenez.
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