By Emily Zentner & Ben Irwin
Sacramento State University is working to transition to online-only classes for the rest of the semester to help prevent the spread of coronavirus, the university announced Thursday.
Classes will be cancelled altogether from March 16 to March 19 to give instructors time to transition to an online curriculum. All classes will be conducted online starting Friday, March 20, with the exception of certain approved in-person courses like small labs, studios, clinicals, field placements and performing arts.
“I know that the past few weeks have been incredibly frustrating and confusing as the coronavirus or COVID-19 pandemic has rapidly evolved,” wrote Sacramento State University President Robert S. Nelsen in a message to the campus community. “...I also know that there has been fear and anxiety around the spread of COVID-19, and we have been making decisions daily in recognition of that reality, many of which have been troubling for our students, faculty and staff.”
The transition comes after an announcement Wednesday that all in-person campus events would be cancelled, postponed or changed to a virtual format starting Thursday. They also encouraged all students, faculty and staff to consider cancelling meetings or having them virtually to promote social distancing and help with mitigating the disease’s spread.
“If I wanted online classes, I would have signed up for online classes,” student Irma Ruiz said. “I think I’m going to do kind of bad in online classes, but I think it’s cool that he (Sac State President Robert S. Nelsen) wants to keep us safe.”
The campus itself is not closing, and campus business offices, residence halls, dining facilities, The WELL, Student Health & Counseling Services, the library, the University Union and the Academic Information Resource Center will stay open.
For Weston Dupree, a graduating senior who works as a student bus driver for the university, this has brought on mixed feelings. He’s told his job will continue through the closure, and he says he’s relieved to be less likely to catch the coronavirus quickly.
“They’ve started wiping down the handles more frequently on the buses, and they also give us a lot of Purell so I’m a little less worried.” Dupree said. “Also with classes cancelled, there should be fewer people on the bus.”
There will not be any in-person finals for any Sacramento State courses unless approved by the dean and provost, and faculty are encouraged to communicate frequently with students about this transition, according to Nelsen.
The university will decide whether or not to hold their annual commencement ceremonies at Golden 1 Center closer to the ceremonies scheduled dates of May 15, 16 and 17, Nelsen wrote Wednesday. However, all other graduation celebrations, events and activities like cultural, community, hooding and pinning ceremonies are cancelled but may be rescheduled.
“As far as commencement, I just hope by the time it comes around we can make a decision whether or not it’s safe to be at the Golden 1 Center all together,” graduating senior Tiffani Madison said. “If not, I’m sure they will reschedule it so we’ll have the opportunity to have that experience.”
Other universities around the state, including San Jose State, San Francisco State, UC Berkeley, UCLA and Stanford, have also moved their classes online. UC Davis announced on Monday that instructors have "maximum flexibility" to move classes online, but were not requiring it as of Tuesday.
The CSU system has also stopped all non-essential travel and is dealing with study abroad students on a case-by-case basis.
“It is scary. A lot of things are being cancelled, even the NBA was cancelled yesterday,” said student Kalid Ali. “It’s something new and nobody knows how to deal with it, but we’re learning.”
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