The Cal State University system announced Tuesday the majority of classes for the fall 2020 term will be conducted virtually, rather than in-person, which is likely to have major economic impacts to San Luis Obispo.
CSU officials say there will be limited exceptions to the virtual classes protocol, and CSU campuses will remain open and ready to serve students. The decision applies to all campuses, including Cal Poly.
After announcing the decision during a board of trustees meeting held on Zoom, CSU Chancellor Timothy White released a statement saying the limited exceptions will be allowed for in-person teaching, learning and research activities that cannot be conducted virtually and are indispensable to a university’s core mission. Those activities must occur in line with safety and welfare protocols, including those set by local governments.
There are many reasons for the virtual planning approach, White said.
“First and foremost is the health, safety and welfare of our students, faculty and staff, and the evolving data surrounding the progression of Covid-19 — current and as forecast throughout the 2020-21 academic year,” White said.
“This planning approach is necessary because a course that might begin in a face-to-face modality would likely have to be switched to a virtual format during the term if a second wave of the pandemic occurs, as forecast. Virtual planning is necessary because it might not be possible for some students, faculty and staff to safely travel to campus. Said another way, this virtual planning approach preservers as many options for as many students as possible.”
Some critics of shelter-in-place orders have responded by saying they expect a significant impact to the local economy as a result of the the move by the CSU system, and thus most Cal Poly students likely not returning to San Luis Obispo in the fall. Likewise, the decision could potentially impact voting in San Luis Obispo in the November election.