COVID Recovery Planning Next Steps from President Joyce McConnell
June 8, 2020
Dear CSU Community,
Today I am pleased to update you on CSU’s Recovery Plan Roadmap, which I first shared on April 29 via a video and written message. As I indicated then, Phase 3 of our Recovery Plan began in May and will extend through January 2021. Many of our Phase 3 plans and decisions were initially on hold, however, while we awaited an official approved budget from CSU Board of Governors, which just met last week. You can read about the budgetary decisions that emerged from that meeting here.
So now Phase 3 planning resumes. And I want to reiterate how we are planning, because I think it is incredibly important to assure you all that even as we enter a new phase of recovery planning, our process will not change. As I told you a month or so ago, I believe our best path forward is through a transparent, engaged process grounded in our land-grant commitment to equity, access, success, and excellence. This will generate a Recovery Plan that we all believe in and a stronger future as a result.
Indeed, working collaboratively across the university, and calling on dozens of faculty and staff to participate directly on our Recovery Working Groups, has already produced incredibly positive results. We presented robust, well-documented fiscal recommendations to the Board last week, and our recommendations were largely accepted. This means that, thanks to our own team, our Board of Governors, and our System leadership, we will move forward unencumbered by the deep reductions, pay cuts, and job losses seen at other universities across the country.
Phase 3: Planning for Fall 2020
We have publicly affirmed that we will be open for in-person operations and courses in the fall, with all classes moving to online instruction following Fall Break. This means that the last two weeks of classes (November 30-December 11) and finals week (December 14-18) will be delivered virtually. I am pleased to share now what our Teaching and Learning Recovery Working Group has identified as the guiding principles for all our Fall decisions:
- Providing an excellent, accessible education to our students, specifically prioritizing offering most of our currently scheduled fall courses face-to-face;
- Keeping our students, faculty and staff healthy;
- Prioritizing in-person class experiences for new students;
- Specifically addressing the needs of our diverse community members, especially those who are financially, physically, or emotionally vulnerable, or vulnerable in other ways;
- Being creative, innovative, and nimble in strategizing ways to address these guiding principles.
We have also already made many key decisions and set many priorities for Fall. These include:
- Preserving face-to-face instruction for labs, studios, and first-year students.
- Expanding the academic day to 8 p.m. on weekdays.
- Moving all classes enrolling more than 99 students online—while still committing to offering the majority of classes face-to-face.
- Exploring adding Saturday classes to the course schedule as needed, if necessary, for specialized academic work.
- Ensuring that all courses are prepared to move to virtual learning after Fall Break, using best practices for online learning to follow President McConnell’s directive that we will move to remote, online classes at that time.
- Keeping Residence Halls open during and after Fall Break for students who need to remain or return, while adjusting operations of other campus facilities as appropriate per public health guidance in place at the time.
- Developing some hybrid classes to accommodate specific curricular and class space needs. These courses will be a blend of on-line and in-person components.
- Incorporating real-time (synchronous) and asynchronous interactions into online courses, to provide both time for engagement between students and faculty and flexibility for student work.
These decisions all set other decisions, processes, and plans in motion, many of which will require continued work from talented professionals across the university. To offer just one example, as we explore the possibility of offering specific academic opportunities on Saturdays, we will need to consider parking, public transportation schedules, facilities issues like unlocking and re-locking buildings and cleaning classroom spaces, and possible space and parking conflicts with athletics and other university events.
And those are the complications we know we need to consider in response to just one possible decision! To address the ongoing, developing, and complex issues, we will continue to need the energy and wisdom of people from across the university.
To that end, I assure you that the committee and working group structure I put in place in April is still in place and the groups are still working incredibly hard. Indeed, many of these Working Groups meet every day. The dedication that these members have demonstrated to CSU is extraordinary and I am so grateful. I am also excited to know that going forward we are in such good hands—our own!
We will have more to share soon, and often, and will share new decisions and information via my emails, SOURCE stories, and emails from other leaders. I am also very pleased to announce the launch of two new informational websites on COVID Recovery and Fall 2020, which should go live by the end of this week. Please bookmark these sites and visit them throughout the summer to check for updates and additional information.
Finally, I know that even though we are all grateful for the strong foundation our approved budget plan provides us, things are still uncertain. And so I will reiterate something else I told you in April: in the face of uncertainty, you can be certain I will be transparent, direct, and an advocate for our students, faculty, staff, and this community.