CPP anticipates virtual fall 2021 semester ahead of campus announcement

By Coco Chica, Mar. 02, 2021

Although an official statement from the administration to students has yet to be released, Cal Poly Pomona administrators are encouraging faculty to plan for the fall 2021 semester to remain primarily virtual. Current plans anticipate the majority of classes will remain online, barring some exceptions.

Students and faculty were given a glimpse of hope last semester with a statement of an anticipated return to campus from the California State University. Today, these plans are once again being revaluated at CPP due to the unpredictability of the virus’ impact on the campus community.

According to Provost Sylvia Alva, the plans in place for summer and fall are based on current conditions and projections for how the pandemic may evolve over the next few months.

“The demand for vaccines does not meet the supply, unfortunately, for everyone to return to campus safely, which slows down our return to campus immensely,” said Alva.

Departments have been asked to submit requests for classes deemed essential for in-person instruction, should a partial return to campus remain feasible.

“I have put in my request to have face-to-face instruction for my four courses in order to bring a technical component that is critical to my students to succeed in these courses,” said Linchi Kwok, associate professor in The Collins College of Hospitality Management.

To date, in-person instruction is being prioritized for classrooms with fewer than 30 students whose laboratories, activities and other applied learning and/or specialized equipment is essential to learning outcomes.

Kwok has experienced the challenges presented by online classrooms. Many of his students feel discouraged with virtual instruction each semester and show less engagement in their courses.

“Keeping students engaged in a virtual classroom is something that is getting easier to do each semester but should not make faculty and staff in the university comfortable to remain in,” Kwok added.

The decisions on these requests are at the discretion of the various colleges and departments.

Furthermore, the university has opened applications for housing in the fall, offering housing to those who require assistance. These applications brought some hope about an in-person fall return but some official correspondence has suggested more uncertainty. Students received an email on Feb.1 from President Soraya M. Coley echoing the initial announcement by the CSU Chancellor’s Office back in December where plans for the return of primarily in-person instruction in the fall is their primary goal.

CSU Chancellor Joseph Castro discussed this topic during a Feb. 8 news conference, communicating to the public that every campus will be different depending on their county.

Castro added that he anticipates at least 50% of classes across the CSU system returning in-person this fall semester. This is unlikely the case for Cal Poly Pomona.

Assistant Vice President of Government and External Affairs Frances Teves described the return to in-person instruction in the fall as something that is “unforeseen” and can change at any given time regardless of faculty or administration’s plans.

“Regardless of the restrictions across cities easing with the introduction of these new vaccines, we have to follow the stricter restrictions provided by the health department,” said Teves.

As of Feb. 23, Los Angeles is currently classified by the state as a widespread risk county, resulting in severe restrictions and requiring non-essential indoor businesses to operate at a limited capacity.

“If the city does not deem it safe to return, we as faculty and administration can only plan for when it’s safe to do so for the safety of our students and staff,” explained Teves.

With the fall term six months away, Teves added, it is still too soon to be certain of a potential return in August. However, Provost Alva continues to work alongside the university and officials to return safely to campus while prioritizing public safety.

“We want students to know that we’re doing all we can to resume life and have our Broncos back on campus to resume their academic journeys in a safe environment,” said Alva.

For more information visit https://www.cpp.edu/safety/coronavirus/messages-to-the-community/planning-for-fall-2021.shtml

Feature image courtesy of Tom Zasadzinski.

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