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CSU Presidents Urged To Reassess Campus Plans Amid Surging COVID-19 Cases

LONG BEACH (CBSLA) — As COVID-19 cases continue to surge and with the likelihood of students and staff traveling over the holidays, campus presidents in the Long Beach-based California State University system were urged Thursday to reassess post-holiday scheduling, including possibly delaying the start of already limited in-person instruction.

This week, CSU Chancellor Timothy White and Chancellor-select Joseph Castro sent a letter to the system's 23 campus presidents saying the coronavirus surge in California "deeply concerning."

"The pandemic's progression, coupled with the reality that many of our students and employees will be traveling and/or socializing with others over the next several weeks -- contrary to public health warnings against such behavior -- throughout California, to other states and internationally, creates an immediate urgency to review, and likely adjust, campus plans," the letter states.

During the current term, the CSU system is using primarily virtual courses and will continue to do so for the term beginning in January. There are limited exceptions for types of instruction that cannot be delivered virtually.

White and Castro noted in their letter that upcoming holiday travel could present a heightened risk of being infected and spreading the virus. Those who do engage in "higher-risk behavior" will "add challenge for us," the letter states.

"Thus, as you consider ways to repopulate residence halls ... we ask that you exercise and urge caution," White and Castro told presidents in their letter. "The prevailing advice from public health experts is to test, sequester individuals for approximately seven days, and then re-test. Of course, your ability to follow this protocol will depend on local conditions and resource availability.

"We ask that you consider delaying the face-to-face instruction -- even for classes that have a limited in-person component -- to as late as possible in January or even into February, with appropriate testing, sequestering and tracing protocols in place to help mitigate the virus' spread in your region."

They noted that spring break, normally scheduled in March and April, could also present challenges, "depending on the status of disease progression at that time."

"And finally, while we all wish for a respite from the pandemic over the holiday season, that, regrettably, is unlikely," they wrote. "The revisions of campus plans that we are necessarily addressing now may need further adjustment as the dynamic nature of this pandemic evolves, and as guidance from federal, state and county authorities changes. Therefore, any communications you have with faculty, staff and students should advise them about the dynamic nature of the moment, and ask them to be aware that further modifications may occur while they are `out on break."'

(© Copyright 2020 CBS Broadcasting Inc. All Rights Reserved. City News Service contributed to this report.)

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