Coronavirus/COVID-19 Information

President Hutchinson: Looking to Spring and Beyond

President Hutchinson provides an update on spring and fall planning as the spring semester begins.

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Announced: February 8, 2021, 10:30 a.m.

To: Campus Community
From: President Gayle Hutchinson 

The spring semester is fully underway and I hope you're off to a great start. Virtual classes are up and running as teaching, advising, and other support services remain virtual for the entire semester. As you re-engage with your classes and the campus community, I want to remind you that Chico State is here to support you. I encourage you to connect with your faculty and your classmates, reach out if you need support in any way, and know the resources available to ensure your success(opens in new window).

We know the effects of the COVID-19 pandemic continue to weigh heavily on all of us, especially our students. About a month from now, it will be one year since I announced that we would move the entire University to virtual delivery, and what a scary and grueling year it has been. Hundreds of thousands of lives lost across the nation devastating friends, families, and communities. Yet, at Chico State each of you has demonstrated your inner strength and resilience day in and day out. Navigating the pandemic especially under the shadow of the Camp Fire is nothing short of arduous. It’s been tough, I know, but individually and collectively we are finding our way!

I, like you, have hope that the COVID-19 pandemic will begin to wane as we approach the summer months and move toward the fall semester. After all, scientists are studying the virus and its variants with urgency, deepening our understanding of how to combat it. Vaccinations are being administered across the country. We are deeply grateful that Butte County Public Health included Chico State employees, including critical student employees, in their vaccination allocation for educators. Many employees are receiving their second dose of the vaccine beginning this week! At the current rate of distribution, it looks promising that youth, including our students, will have opportunities to be vaccinated beginning in late spring or early summer.   

Vaccines provide reason for optimism, but we mustn’t give way to a false sense of security. Realistically speaking, we still have a long road ahead before COVID-19 is corralled and herd immunity achieved. One way to think about this is to imagine the hardest miles a runner faces in a marathon. Miles 18–23 of the 26.2-mile race are the toughest both physically and mentally. The months ahead are similar to those toughest miles, and they will surely be mentally taxing and test the outer limits of our patience.  

Our new chancellor, Joseph Castro, echoed at the January Board of Trustees meeting what then-Chancellor Timothy P. White had said in December, that the majority of classes in the CSU would be in-person come fall 2021. Both articulated clearly that we will use two twin stars to guide our planning: the health and safety of our students, faculty, and staff, and student success. 

I interpret these statements to mean that campuses are to plan for as many in-person classes and student activities as possible under current state and local public health and safety guidelines. In a system comprised of 23 campuses of all shapes and sizes, with varying resources, and located in different counties throughout the state, the number of in-person classes will vary by campus. 

At Chico State, the goal is to bring back to campus as many students, faculty, and staff as possible while adhering to health and safety guidelines. Our planning target for fall semester is to offer approximately 20 to 30 percent of our fall 2021 course sections either fully in-person or blended (partially in-person). There is no easy explanation of what this means for students. Depending on your major and your current progress toward graduation, it could mean a fully online schedule or one that is both in-person and online.

In addition to in-person classes, we are planning to provide additional in-person services and co-curricular opportunities for students, such as some student clubs and athletic teams along with limited access to the WREC and individual student study spaces. University Housing will offer single-occupancy rooms to more than 1,000 students.

What this means for faculty and their classes is dependent upon the faculty member, the department, and the college. As with students, some faculty will teach entirely online; others will be teaching both in-person and virtually. Some classes will take place in the technologically equipped HyFlex classrooms, where in-person and online teaching can occur simultaneously. Faculty Development(opens in new window) and the Technology and Learning Program(opens in new window) continue to provide support and resources. There is still the question of repopulating campus over the summer. Planning is underway, and more information is forthcoming.

If you have additional questions about summer or fall, I hope you will ask them at the State of the University address at 1 p.m. on Friday, February 12. A Q&A with both pre-submitted and live questions will follow this year’s virtual address. Send advance questions for consideration to working-virtually@csuchico.edu by noon on Wednesday, February 10. The EOC works daily to address the challenges presented by the pandemic and implement solutions. We will continue to update the campus community as more details are confirmed for summer and fall.

Pandemic fatigue is real, and we feel its effects daily. Yet, we find strength in knowing that our entire campus community continues to work together to navigate the COVID-19 challenge, never losing sight of our priorities of public health and student success. Summer and fall will bring more of us onto campus. Over time, the virus will recede further, and when it does we will welcome a full return. In the meantime, the critical months ahead require our highest mental stamina. Together, we will.