Oakland — The CDC recently announced that fully vaccinated people can now gather with other fully vaccinated people without masks. This has left many asking what this may mean for in-person classes for colleges in the fall.
We reached out to different colleges and students around the country to find out what their fall 2021 campus plans are, as well as get some reactions from students.
California State Universities
A representative from the CSU’s public affairs office shared the following:
“The CSU is committed to protecting the health and well-being of its students, staff and the communities where our campuses are located.
In December, the CSU announced that based on emerging evidence, it was optimistic for a return to a majority of in-person courses systemwide in the fall 2021 term. While the CSU Chancellor’s Office provides general guidance to campuses and reviews each plan, each institution sets its own protocols in alignment with its local public health agency and takes into account the latest CDC guidance.
The percentage of in-person instruction may vary across the CSU’s 23 campuses, depending on many factors, including regional public health guidance and campus capacity logistics.
Additionally, the CSU supports the California Department of Public Health’s efforts to encourage vaccine participation, by sharing public-health messaging with students and employees. Further, some campuses are also developing customized public-health campaigns for their campus communities.”
Iyalah Sanabria, 20, Cal State University Northridge
“Personally I’m very excited for school to possibly reopen because I transferred and was supposed to be able to go to CSUN but wasn’t able to. I’m very excited to be able to for at least one year go and experience that. My biggest concern is going back and then the school changing their decision last minute in the middle of things. I think everyone should be wearing a mask, but I don’t know about forcing people to get the vaccine.
In a business class lecture, students were told that most teachers don’t wanna come back and if they do, it would be hybrid. It would be half the students, all social distanced, the other half would be online watching the classroom and then the next day would rotate. If they get their shots, they would be fine going back. CSUN is offering the vaccine to on-campus residents.”
San Francisco State University
On March 8, SF State’s President Lynn Mahoney sent an email out to all students including the following: “experts from the University of California believe all employees and students will have the opportunity to be vaccinated by June. The goal is to bring back as many students as possible. Most of the community wants to remain remote or partially remote. A schedule for in-person classes will be announced in May.”
Jenna Mandarano, 19, San Francisco State University
“I honestly have not been a fan of the fact that we may possibly return to campus for Fall 2021. I personally feel like it’s too soon, especially since vaccines are just starting to be made available to teachers. There’s also people that still don’t take the pandemic seriously and I don’t want to risk being around those people for my sake & my family’s. Although virtual classes get very draining & exhausting, I’m willing to do it again for the upcoming semester. I would even be open to a hybrid approach, but under strict health guidelines while in the classroom such as social distancing, limited capacity & mask usage. As much as I want everyone to get vaccinated, realistically there will always be a group of people that refuse to. If you feel inclined to get the vaccine, definitely get it- I’m planning to as soon as I’m able! However, if students are not comfortable getting the vaccine, regular testing should be in place. Online learning has certainly been a challenge, but I’ve started to adapt to it. I’d say the hardest part has been focusing during Zoom classes & lectures because it’s so easy to get distracted when you’re in the comfort of your own home. I think SFSU has handled online learning pretty well. The main concern I have is professors’ response time when it comes to emails, but that varies among each one. It would be easier just to meet with them in person for just a quick question, but we obviously can’t do that. I’m definitely hoping our world can grasp a sense of normalcy by the Spring ‘22 semester so we can be comfortable going back in person.”
Levan Palacios 3rd year, San Francisco State University
“Being on campus allowed me to stay focused and retain information. While virtual learning is not difficult, it has been hard to adjust to. I believe hybrid class setups would be most beneficial for individuals that are willing to be vaccinated and attend in-person classes.”
Loyola University Chicago
On March 9, an email was sent to all students stating the following:
“[We] Plan to return fully to our Chicagoland campuses in fall 2021 with in-person classes and residence hall occupancy...Current federal projections indicate that there will be enough vaccine supply for all American adults by the end of May, so the majority of our Loyola community will have the opportunity to be vaccinated by the start of the fall semester...Pre-pandemic online programs and courses that better serve students in an online format should remain online.”
Alec Karam, 21, Junior, Loyola
“I’m excited to return to campus in Fall 2021 after a year of Zoom school. While I do enjoy aspects of online school — the ability to sleep in later, the convenience of not needing to walk to class in the brutal winter weather — I ultimately miss the in-person experience. I miss picking out my outfit and walking all over campus, feeling productive. It’s been isolating going to class all on our own, interacting with very few people, so I’m ready for a return to normalcy.
My only concern in returning is if the country lags in the vaccine rollout. I think a great way to promote safety on campus would be for Loyola to require students who study on campus get the shot. We need to come together and get vaccinated and live our lives. If the school requires it, that’s an incentive that would put me at ease. Knowing my classmates are all vaccinated would do a lot of good in easing any concerns I have for returning to campus this fall.
During virtual learning, I feel that I’ve comprehended the same amount of information and I haven’t seen my grades suffer. Academically, it’s perfectly fine. But mentally and socially, I haven’t been a fan. Staring at the computer for hours on end is much less enjoyable than sitting in a classroom. It’s also more lonely. I think Loyola did a fine job transitioning to remote learning, but unfortunately, this model will never stack up with the traditional in-person method for me. I’m not sure there’s a way to make virtual learning feel equal, and that’s not on Loyola or any other school. I would’ve felt unsafe learning in-person this year, so I support their decision. But I am entirely ready for us to be vaccinated and free of the virus this fall as we return to the classroom. I hope that’s the case.”
University of Wisconsin-Madison
A university media relations official gave us the following information:
“As University of Wisconsin System campuses plan for the fall semester, we will be seeking to maximize this engagement through in-person teaching and learning while building on our successful embrace of remote instruction. In fact, I have directed our universities to ensure that students attending a UW campus in Fall 2021 will have as classic a UW campus experience as possible – including a goal of at least 75 percent of all classes being in person… W–Madison Chancellor Rebecca Blank also has stated that campus expects to offer vaccines to all students by fall, which will further support an expansion of in-person activity.”
Enjoyiana Nururdin, 22, Senior at UW-Madison
“I personally am on the fence about returning to school in the fall for UW-Madison mainly because of the large number of students on campus and the disregard for personal safety and the wellbeing of others. I have been working as a House Fellow in the dorms for two years now and I’ve seen firsthand how students responded to COVID-19 regulations being enforced. Those regulations are mainly wearing face masks and limiting gathering and a lot of students I’ve come in contact with are struggling to discipline themselves. Oftentimes, when they’re called out for not wearing masks in the dorms or public spaces, they try to argue that “they’re the only ones in the space” or “they’re socially distanced” so they think they don’t have to wear them, which frustrates me because it’s not just about them, it’s about everyone else in the building. Looking at campus-wide behavior, because UW usually has a lot of social-rush fraternity/sorority parties, a lot of underclassmen still congregated to the parties in the fall, which led to an extreme increase in COVID cases and campus-wide quarantines. I actually contracted COVID-19 (from what I believe was sharing a bathroom with residents) while working in the dorms despite staying in my room and making sure I socially distanced/stayed to myself. I’ve had friends who went the majority of the pandemic without contracting COVID-19, but came to campus and got it. I do believe that students are able to discipline themselves in a way that prevents other people from getting COVID, but I do think that there will be large numbers of underclassmen who will still prioritize a social life that could increase the spread of it. I think the school just needs to take better steps to ensure that students are held accountable for their actions that could have extreme consequences on other people. I do think that the rolling out the vaccine on campus will hopefully make things better for the next academic year, but a change in mentality also needs to occur in order for the entire campus to be safe.”