All 23 campuses of the California State University are scheduled to reopen in fall 2021, as vaccination has helped California overcome the coronavirus pandemic and return to a semblance of normal life. But after more than a year of virtual instruction, many students, faculty and staff are supportive of a permanent expansion of online coursework.
In the largely commuter campuses of the Cal State system, many see benefits of greater flexibility, lower expenses, greater parking availability and improved student retention by offering the option of earning a degree through hybrid or fully online models.
“What we learned during the pandemic is that virtual learning provides the opportunity for students to get an education while they’re trying to balance a number of different things in their lives, whether they’re parents or taking care of an elderly parent or working or living in a rural area,” says the new chancellor of the Cal State system, Joseph Castro. “What I believe, based on what I’ve heard from students and faculty and staff throughout the CSU, is that we will have more virtual offerings after the pandemic is over than we did before the pandemic.”
The fall 2021 semester will likely serve as a prototype for a long-term hybrid model and a chance to assess technological and academic challenges to digital learning. A new initiative to ensure that all students have an appropriate internet-enabled device is in the works for fall 2021, a major step toward making online learning possible for the diverse student body.
While Cal State Fullerton is planning for a 65% to 75% return to in-person coursework this autumn, the percentage varies throughout the Cal State system, from up to 90% at San Diego State University to 45% at Cal State Long Beach.
Read more about the possible future of virtual instruction in the Cal State system and student opinions in this Los Angeles Times article.