CSUB will remain mostly online for fall classes

Paige Atkison, Reporter

California State University Chancellor Timothy White announced that all universities in the CSU system will continue with online instruction with few exceptions during the fall 2020 semester in a CSU Board of Trustees meeting on May 12. The decision came after the consideration of the recommendations of various medical professionals and their prediction of a second wave of the coronavirus appearing in the late fall months.  

The rationale for the decision to remain online includes the assumption that during a possible second wave, the CSU system would have to move online once again, disrupting the current learning modalities as it did in the Spring 2020 semester.  

CSU Bakersfield President Lynnette Zelezny echoed White’s concerns for the safety of CSUB students in a written statement to the Runner.  

“Like Chancellor White, we at CSU Bakersfield put the health and welfare of our community above every other consideration. We support the chancellor’s prudent decision to continue with virtual instruction with limited exceptions in the fall, given the projections by health officials that the danger from COVID-19 will be with us for the foreseeable future,” wrote Zelezny.  

The majority of classes will be delivered online and there will be limited exceptions for classes that require in-person meetings. These classes may include courses from nursing, engineering, and fine arts departments as well as various laboratory classes. However, the few in-person classes that meet will be required to follow rigorous social distancing guidelines. These classes will undergo various changes that would stagger classroom time and reduce the number of students in each classroom among other things. 

White acknowledged that these classes will need increased personal protection equipment (PPE) for students as well as greater sanitation needs. The selection of classes that will have exceptions to meet in-person will be chosen by each university individually. 

“Anything done on a campus this fall won’t be as it was in the past,” White said.  

White also believes that maintaining online instruction will be the most equitable route for students, as some students may not be able to travel to their respective campuses safely. The availability of on-campus living will also be limited. 

“This virtual planning approach preserves as many options for as many students as possible,” White said.  

Zelezny also noted that extra measures have been taken to protect the CSUB campus from infection and to further expand on virtual instruction methods with the goal of continuing to provide “first-rate education” to students. 

“We are proud that we have been able to do just that, thanks to the innovation of our faculty and staff, and the resilience of our students.” 

Though both White and Zelezny believe that virtual instruction will be able to provide the same quality and caliber of education as in-person courses, one CSU trustee disagreed.  

“Virtual learning is considered to be fairly or significantly inferior to the alternative,” trustee Jeffrey Krinsk said.  

Krinsk is a lawyer and recent addition to the board of trustees, having served on multiple university boards throughout the years.  

While Krinsk’s comments were quickly met with dissent from White and multiple other trustees, some CSUB students agree with Krinsk’s assessment.  

CSUB student and junior kinesiology major Cristian Serrato feels as though the change to online courses would negatively impact his education. 

“My professors are amazing and continue to do an amazing job throughout this time, but it would be difficult applying what we’ve learned,” wrote Serrato in a Facebook post.  

Fellow CSUB student Michael Cortes fears that if online classes continue, he will likely drop out of his master’s program in Public Administration.  

However, some students are looking forward to the transition to online learning and view it as comparable to in-person education.  

Daniela Walkover, a master’s student in Public Administration is excited for the switch to virtual instruction.  

“In my opinion, online-only classes would be excellent!” wrote Miramontes, “I work full time and am attending school full time, so online classes are less taxing on me in that I can do my work from home and not be away from home 12 hours a day.” 

Another concern for many CSUB students is the cost of tuition and student fees for the upcoming semester.  

White addressed the CSU budget and the upcoming challenges for CSU schools, noting that the CSU system is facing considerable obstacles for the upcoming scholastic year. 

As CSU students suffer financial strain due to the coronavirus’ impact on the economy, so does the CSU system’s budget.  

More than one trustee asked how the effects of the budget’s current state would affect tuition, student fees, and universities’ ability to cover the cost of switching to online instruction. 

White acknowledged the demands of the pandemic and the budgeting realities but was not able to provide definitive answers to the questions at this time. The board of trustees is waiting for the governor’s revision of the California state budget before making further decisions. The board will meet to address budgetary issues in July.  

“We don’t know,” White said.  

Amid the fears that student enrollment would drop due to the shift to online learning, White encouraged students to continue in their educational aspirations. 

“This is not the time to pause or decline an opportunity to attend a CSU campus,” White said, “this is a moment to persist.”