Safety and Emergency Information

Planning for Fall 2021

Date: 2/10/2021
From: Provost - Vice President for Academic Affairs 
Subject: Planning for Fall 2021

Dear Colleagues:

I am writing to provide an update on our academic planning for the Fall 2021 semester. Our ongoing progress as a campus over the past year has relied on your commitment to our students and a willingness to be flexible in a fluid environment. These principles continue to underscore our preparations for fall.

As you know, in December the CSU Chancellor’s Office announced that the CSU is anticipating a return to delivering courses “primarily in-person,” starting with the Fall 2021 term. Considering the breadth of realities for a 23-campus system, what “primarily in-person” looks like will vary greatly depending on infection and vaccination rates in the region where each campus is located. Please know, the health and safety of our campus community has been and will continue to be the keystone of our pandemic response.

At the time of this writing, the LA County Department of Public Health (LADPH) conservatively projects that roughly 50 percent of the county population will have achieved immunity against COVID-19 by August 2021. Considering this projection, we are developing contingency plans that include offering more in-person courses in fall 2021, with the understanding that we may need to pivot to online and hybrid modalities as circumstances dictate.

In order to help colleges and departments prepare for Fall 2021, we have developed a set of general guidelines that prioritize the health and safety of faculty, staff and students, while also ensuring a high-quality educational experience for our students.

These guidelines include the following:

  • Campus repopulation will depend on guidance provided by LADPH and the CSU Chancellor’s Office.
  • We must assume that not all students and faculty will be ready to return to in-person instruction in the fall. Therefore, flexibility must be built into the class schedule and the course syllabi.
  • Whenever possible, courses with multiple sections should include online sections as well as sections with in-person components.
  • Priority for in-person instruction shall go to laboratory, activity, and other classes where hands-on learning and/or specialized equipment is essential to learning outcomes.
  • Lecture classes with enrollment of 30 or more should be offered fully online to allow us to use larger classrooms to offer in-person instruction and meet social distancing requirements. Laboratory or activity classes of that same size are also encouraged to be virtual. The mode of instruction for classes with fewer than 30 students will be decided by colleges and departments.
  • Classes with in-person learning components, regardless of size, must ensure that appropriate social distancing guidelines are observed.

A highly important consideration in our planning for fall concerns our transition to a new learning management system (LMS). In December, I joined with John McGuthry, Vice President for Information Technology and Institutional Planning, to announce that we would be moving as a campus from Blackboard to Canvas (details and information). Over the course of the spring semester, the campus will implement a comprehensive migration plan that will allow faculty to begin using the new system in the summer term. Canvas will become the default LMS in fall 2021.

To best support our students and ensure continuity regardless of in-person or virtual modalities, all faculty are asked to use Canvas to, at a minimum, maintain the current class syllabus, an up-to-date gradebook, and to communicate with their students. Our Center for the Advancement of Faculty Excellence (CAFE) will shortly announce faculty training sessions for Canvas.

Planning for Fall and looking ahead to being a post-pandemic university, our students will expect greater flexibility and advances in how we teach, combining in-person with virtual modalities. Without reservation, the university supports you in taking the lessons learned over the past year and using them to bolster student engagement and learning outcomes.

Thank you again for your resilience and commitment to our students. I will continue to keep you updated as our planning and progress continues.

Sylvia A. Alva, Ph.D.
Provost and Vice President for Academic Affairs