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Dear SDSU Community,

I am writing to you during an intensely difficult time as we address the ongoing, global COVID-19 pandemic and when our nation is full of rightful unrest over the persistent mistreatment, abuse, and unjustified killings of members of our Black community. To each of you, I encourage that you prioritize your health — including your mental and emotional health — through your academic, professional, community, and familial commitments.

I am also writing to share much anticipated news: the California State University system has provided formal approval for our detailed SDSU Flex plan, which will carry us through Fall 2020. I have a high level of confidence that, through our plan, we will offer an exceptional education and experience for our students, no matter their physical location.

We have launched the SDSU Flex website to provide information and updates, to include information about campus repopulation, course offerings, the student experience, student housing, and a range of operational functions. We will continue to maintain the dedicated COVID-19 site for public health-related updates as we continue to address individual and community health through the ongoing pandemic.

I know this information will be helpful to every single member of our community, including our incoming students and their parents and families, as we all prepare for Fall semester 2020.

In-Person and Virtual Courses

SDSU plans to offer more than 200 unique undergraduate and graduate-level in-person courses in the Fall 2020. The in-person course list for Fall 2020 is now on the Office of the Registrar's site. Each class offered will have multiple sections, providing increased collaboration with faculty, while ensuring that physical distancing guidelines are followed.

Because we do not have enough classrooms to offer all classes in person while providing for sufficient physical distancing, all other courses, which are predominately lecture and discussion based courses, will be offered virtually for the Fall.

Similar to many universities across the U.S., we are committed to ensuring the health and safety of our students while providing an exceptional educational experience. Currently, a public health imperative requires less campus density to limit the spread of COVID-19. Because we will need to keep physical distance for an undetermined time, we will certainly embrace the strengths of virtual instruction to ensure students can customize their learning experiences. At the same time we will maintain critical in-person elements for those courses which most need it.

We have prioritized offering in-person classes that meet certain parameters:

  • Discipline-relevant standards and student-learning outcomes, which cannot be met by fully virtual delivery;

  • Use of specialized equipment, which cannot be substituted in virtual delivery; and

  • Accreditation and/or licensure requirements that necessitate in-person experiences (to avoid impeding a future graduate's ability to gain access to advanced academic programs or field-based work placement).

We anticipate 7,000 to 8,200 students to enroll in these on-campus courses during the Fall, with about 660 faculty, teaching assistants, and instruction-supporting staff working on campus to support them.

Residential Housing

We look forward to returning students to campus and will house approximately 3,500 students in on campus residence halls, which is approximately 54% of normal capacity, to ensure adequate physical distancing as reviewed by the San Diego County Health and Human Services Agency. This means housing license agreements will be rescinded for some students. Students in residence will receive substantial on-campus academic support through residential programs, respecting social distancing requirements and increased health and safety protections.

With public health in mind, and to allow undergraduates to be on campus with their peers, faculty, and staff as safely as possible, student housing is guaranteed to those who:

  • Are non-local first-time freshmen;

  • Are non-local rising sophomores who will have in-person classes;

  • Students in specific SDSU programs such as Guardian Scholars, Presidential Scholars, student-athletes, students with accessibility-related needs; and

  • Students with emergency housing needs or other unique needs.

All other students can request to be considered for on-campus housing by indicating their interest in the Housing Portal. Students will be notified if there is availability within the 3,500 reduced capacity limit. The Office of Housing Administration and Residential Education Office will be sharing more specific information directly with students.

Accessibility for Students and the Return to Campus

COVID-19 will continue to dictate our daily lives. We are modifying our physical spaces to reduce the number of people gathering. Events will be restricted in size due to physical distancing. Students will likely have to be restrictive in where they travel when leaving campus. We will need to wear masks and take a greater individual responsibility for sanitization.

We are aware that some of our students have specific circumstances that require additional assistance. Students who are enrolled in in-person classes, but who cannot safely travel to campus due to COVID-19 concerns should contact the Student Ability Success Center (SASC), which continues to serve and advise students virtually.

Those not currently served by SASC, but who are eligible for accommodations due to a previously undisclosed disability, can receive temporary accommodations for the full semester, and as they work to obtain documentation to fully establish their disability-related accommodation.

Faculty and Staff Return to Campus

The health and safety of faculty, staff, and students is paramount. Faculty and staff who are able to complete their work via telework arrangements will be encouraged to do so continuing through Fall 2020, with the exception of faculty approved to teach in-person courses or who are engaged in certain research and creative activities, as well as staff who are performing work that can only be performed onsite.

Faculty and staff unable to work onsite in the Fall due to medical conditions that make them more vulnerable to COVID-19, will receive reasonable accommodations in the form of telework assignments, where available, or will be provided with leave options consistent with California State University policies and applicable collective bargaining agreements.

The Center for Human Resources will be sharing more information with faculty and staff.

Investments to Enhance Remote Teaching and Learning

We are working to make the virtual experience as deeply engaging and enriching as possible for all students. SDSU has spent years increasing online course offerings and moving all courses to virtual modalities mid-spring allowed our instructional faculty time to redesign courses and begin training.

Teaching, learning, and technology experts are providing in-depth training that will reach more than 75% of all faculty members by the end of this summer. Many other faculty have already sought training to adapt their fall courses for virtual or hybrid delivery, both within and outside of SDSU. Summer training institutes are directly helping instructors optimize their course offerings and create customizable experiences for our students, so that we retain the quality of education and the student experience for which we are known. The SDSU Flexible Course Design Summer Institute, in particular, provides faculty participants with teaching strategies, whether their courses will be face-to-face, hybrid, or fully virtual.

We are also identifying ways to expand meaningful in-person teaching, to include small group interactions and peer-based learning, complemented by academic support.

Athletic Practices and Competitions

Athletics is following National Collegiate Athletic Association (NCAA), federal, state, local, and university guidance and will phase-in student-athlete involvement to protect the safety and well-being of all individuals engaged in intercollegiate athletic activities.

Further details regarding the athletics repopulation plan are still in development, working closely with the Mountain West Conference and the California State University Chancellor’s office. Future details will be shared that both support the necessary conditioning, training, and preparatory work our student-athletes need to engage in, as well as details about Conference play.

In Closing

I am grateful to the many teams of campus experts, called “Tiger Teams”, who have spent many weeks and, in some cases, months thoughtfully planning for each of the necessary operational details for the next academic year. As a result, we already have response and isolation plans in place should there be new COVID-19 cases, and SDSU Flex includes clear expectations and protocols as the pandemic situation may change. 

SDSU Flex is our own creation and unlike other plans within the CSU system. The plan takes into consideration our teaching, research, and service missions, and our developing strategic plan. It is certainly a hybrid approach, as many other Universities are now exploring, that takes full advantage of our tremendously capable faculty, our adaptability as an institution, and the most up to date public health guidance. We have designed a solution that we hope uniquely supports our culture of connectedness, community of care, and commitment to providing a quality education and meaningful student experience. I am grateful, through SDSU Flex, that we will continue providing opportunities to connect, collaborate, and celebrate, all in the tradition of what makes our SDSU family whole.

Adela de la Torre, Ph.D.
San Diego State University President

 
 
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