The Student News Site of Sonoma State University

Sonoma State Star

The Student News Site of Sonoma State University

Sonoma State Star

The Student News Site of Sonoma State University

Sonoma State Star

    Mixed feelings from staff, students about returning to in-person instruction for Fall 2021


    On March 1, Sonoma State sent out an email updating SSU students, staff, and faculty on their Summer and Fall 2021 semesters planning status. The email left the SSU community with a vast array of feelings about the possibility of returning to in-person learning in the fall.

    As COVID-19 rates are slowly declining and vaccines are rolling out, SSU is planning for an increase in in-person activities for the summer and fall.

    In their March 1 email, Sonoma State University stated, “We look forward to welcoming you back to a re-energized campus that is safe, healthy, and follows local public health guidelines.”

    However, with there still being many unknowns and the state of the COVID-19 pandemic constantly changing, SSU can not make any promises for the upcoming semesters.

    Some of the many COVID-19 safety protocols that SSU will be instilling in the fall include, but are not limited to, wearing masks, physical distancing, cleaning buildings on a more routine basis, having sanitizing stations available throughout the campus, and having those on-campus complete daily wellness checks.

    In order to allow those on campus to maintain six feet of physical distance from one another, SSU will be decreasing classroom capacities to allow for smaller class sizes. With that said, Sonoma State will be offering some of their smaller classes in-person, if feasible, and will offer some of their larger classes online.

    According to Karen Moranski, interim provost and vice president of academic affairs, “courses with more than 50 students will be almost entirely online because of the room capacities allowed by state and local physical distancing regulations.”

    Since classes with more than 50 students cannot allow for physical distancing, the Fall 2021 schedule will offer classes in different modes such as in-person, hybrid, synchronous online, asynchronous online, and bisynchronous online.

    The University is encouraging students to review their graduation requirements and work closely with their advisors to pick courses in their preferred mode of learning, in order to graduate in a timely manner.

    SSU anticipates that a lot of their students will be returning to the Sonoma County area in the fall as some students have missed out on three consecutive semesters of in-person activities.

    “Entering my senior year I would love to be back on campus in the fall as long as it is safe to do so. I am excited about the possibility and look forward to potentially attending in person classes,” Hunter Petretti, Early Childhood Studies major, said.

    Despite being excited for the possibility of attending classes in person, Petretti has worries about her classes for the Fall 2021 semester after being online for a portion of her time here at Sonoma State.

    “I am somewhat anxious about in person classes considering we have been in an online learning environment for so long. Returning to in-person classes will take some adjustments,” Petretti said.

    Even though vaccines are slowly being rolled out, some Sonoma State faculty and staff members are weary to return to campus in the fall given the unpredictability of the COVID-19 pandemic conditions.

    Sonoma State Assistant Professor Talena Sanders said, “I do not feel comfortable returning to campus for fall. I understand the vaccine is only approved under emergency authorization, so we can’t require everyone to have it. But as long as we aren’t requiring vaccines for students, staff, and faculty, I will not feel comfortable on campus and in classrooms.”

    Other SSU faculty members hope to remain telecommuting until it is safe to return to campus.

    Aidan Humrich, Assistant to the Dean of the School of Education said, “As long as work can be done effectively from home, it seems reasonable for the University to let us continue telecommuting. I know that other staff feel the same, as well as many faculty. Many of us have family members with medical conditions that make them vulnerable, and would rather not risk putting their health in jeopardy.”

    As Sonoma State gets more answers and clarity about the Fall 2021 semester, they will update and communicate with students, parents, staff, and faculty about their plans for the upcoming semesters.

    Even if the Fall 2021 semester is not as “normal” as some students are hoping for, the University remains optimistic that at least it will hopefully be a step in the right direction.

    “Although SSU will not be fully repopulated in Fall 2021, we will have a much more lively campus, and that is good news for all of us. We look forward to being back together, in person, with our Seawolf community,” Moranski said.

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