BAKERSFIELD, Calif. (KERO) — For CSU Bakersfield, back to school did not mean back to class. Students have begun the spring semester virtually all thanks to a surge in omicron cases.
CSUB students have a seat at the table when it comes to making decisions. As CSUB ASI’s president said, the decision to go virtual for a few weeks came from the administration listening to the voices of their students.
“After we heard from the students, the concern about the amount of cases rising, that’s something we brought to President Zelezny and to her cabinet and the administration,” said Stephanie Magana, ASI President and CSUB Senior.
Cal State Bakersfield students have spoken. Magana said that led to CSUB going virtual the first few weeks of the spring semester.
Provost and Vice President of Academic Affairs Dr. Vernon Harper said the decision also comes following a council from Public Health about rising omicron cases.
“Clearly, [looking at] the data, we’re in a spike or a wave, so we wanted to make sure it’s a healthy environment for students and faculty.”
When they return, eligible students and faculty will need to be boosted, in accordance with CSU policy.
Besides hands-on learning in labs and performance classes, students will start the semester as they have for almost two years, remotely.
Erin Pruitt, a CSUB Junior said, “Specially to see from last year when a lot of people were getting used to it, and not really feeling comfortable with having their cameras on, I just started classes today and what I noticed is all my classes so far are saying, ‘hey let’s have our cameras on and have a discussion!”
She’s been virtual since the beginning of the pandemic, but she sees the positives of not having to go to class in-person because it gives her more time with her family, who she lives with.
Meanwhile, Magana points out it’s not a convenience for all students. For some, it’s been a technological barrier which student government has been working on mitigating.
“We’ve increased the amount of loner laptops for our students, we’ve increased the amount of hotspots. If they’re having trouble with WI-FI, they can get a free hotspot, laptop. And there’s a new program that was rolled out through the CSU system for incoming freshman to get iPads. And it’s just our way of trying to cut that divide.”
Magana exclaimed that she’s excited to bring back the energy and excitement of campus life when students return in mid-February.
In the meantime, Dr. Harper said they’re trying still to create the college experience in a time of uncertainty, like having campus activities like basketball games resume with protocols in place.