Update on CAS Spring Semester

January 5, 2021

To:  Faculty, staff/administrators, and College of Arts and Sciences (CAS) students
From:  Steve Wuhs, Interim Dean of CAS; Donna Eddleman, University Dean of Student Affairs; and Michelle Rogers, Vice President for Administration
Subject:  Update on CAS Spring Semester

Welcome to 2021! We are looking forward to a positive and productive year, although we realize it will take some time to emerge from current pandemic conditions. As promised in our November 19 communication, today we are writing with an update on the status of the College of Arts and Sciences (CAS) spring semester.

Academic Classes

Under current conditions—with Southern California under an extended State “Regional Stay At Home Order” and San Bernardino County remaining in Tier 1/purple—we are not permitted to hold in-person academic “lecture” classes. We do not anticipate this situation changing by February 1, when some classes had been scheduled to begin using in-person and hybrid modalities after an initial online period.

For the sake of planning, all academic classes will remain virtual until further notice, with the hope that we will be able to pivot to offer additional in-person options later during the semester. According to State guidance, when San Bernardino County improves to Tier 2/red status, academic courses can be held, limited to 25% capacity with safety modifications. At that time, the University will consider the feasibility of having classes switch to an in-person or hybrid modality if so designated during course registration.

Experiential Classes

Under State guidance (even with the “Regional Stay At Home Order”), experiential classes—such as labs, studio art, theatre arts, and Communication Sciences and Disorders clinics—are permitted to be in-person, with safety precautions. To continue to support students’ academic progress and our faculty members’ vision for meaningful instruction, the University will continue to honor the instructors’ choice of modality—be it online, in-person, or hybrid, as designated during registration—in these fields.

Residence Life and Housing

As permitted by State guidelines, the University will be housing approximately 600 undergraduates who have chosen to live on the Redlands campus for the spring semester. The requirement to live on campus has been waived, so only students who desire to do so will join our reduced-density residential communities.

Students are choosing to return to residence life for a variety of reasons. Human connection, even when physically distanced, is valued and needed at a time when students are tiring of remote instruction and separation from their peers. For some of our students, family circumstances make living on campus a healthier and preferred option. Other students require reliable access to technology to fully engage in their studies or desire to have a more traditional college experience (albeit with safety modifications). 

From the University’s perspective, residential education, even with classes in an online modality, increases a student’s connection to the campus community, aids in retention, and minimizes employee layoffs and furloughs. Some institutions that had students in residence this past fall have demonstrated residential life can still be done well during the pandemic, and we have spent the past several months addressing risk and implementing mitigation strategies based on what we learned from these campuses and from our own operations.

As described in the December 23 memo and other communications to students, measures to protect health and safety include single occupancy of rooms (charged at the less expensive double-occupancy rate), entry quarantine and testing, a weekly COVID testing requirement, and other COVID-safety mandates (see the Student Pledge). Move-in times will be staggered to help maintain physical distancing.

Academic Calendar

As a reminder, the CAS spring semester begins on Tuesday, January 19. Spring Break is canceled to discourage travel and limit the spread of COVID-19; however, two recommended Study Days on Tuesday, March 9 and Wednesday, March 17 have been included in the calendar to provide a break for students.

Additional information about on-campus services and operations will be provided in a separate memo.

We wish everyone an engaging and rewarding spring semester!