Cal Poly students weigh-in on Fall semester going "mostly virtual"

Posted at 12:11 AM, May 13, 2020

Cal Poly and the rest of the CSU campuses will now be going "mostly virtual for Fall."

It's a move CSU Chancellor Timothy White says was necessary for the health and safety of students and staff.

For some students at Cal Poly, however, they say switching to virtual learning hasn't been the easiest transition for either faculty or students.

"Starting virtual classes online was very difficult," said Edward Sernas, an engineering student at Cal Poly. "Because as a student you're forced to learn more on your own rather than collaborate with students and learning from lectures you can proactively interact with."

"There's some professors that are really good at technology and so its been a pretty seamless transition and then there's others that aren't as good with computers and zoom and technology and that sort of thing," said Dylan Moreland, an engineering student at Cal Poly. "So it's been a rougher transition [for those classes]."

With the status of what classes or labs will be held in person up the air, some students say there's some apprehension about a fully virtual fall semester while others remain positive.

"This quarter has been short on time with the amount of weeks that were given," said Sernas. "If that's any indication of how it's going to be in the future, it's gonna be pretty scary. The quarter system is already really fast, now that things are virtual -- it leads human attention away from how much time is really needed to complete a task in a certain amount of time."

"I actually feel like it'll be smoother than this quarter simply because the faculty will have an entire two and a half, three months to prepare versus for this quarter they only had two weeks so it was really rushed for them and they had to scramble to get things together," said Moreland.

CSU Chancellor Timothy White said in a statement Tuesday:

This planning approach is necessary because a course that might begin in a face-to-face modality would likely have to be switched to a virtual format during the term if a serious second wave of the pandemic occurs, as forecast.

If learning continues to be "mostly" virtual, students we spoke to say the university should consider charging less for classes.

Engineering student Edward Sernas says his parents are now out of work because of the pandemic and he's balancing school and working to help support them.

"It's a lot and I'm not the only one [in this situation]," Sernas said. "So it's something the CSU system needs to take seriously because students are suffering in many ways that they probably can't think about."

In a tweet posted Tuesday afternoon, President Jeffrey Armstrong said an announcement of what changes might look like at Cal Poly would be coming either Tuesday night or Wednesday morning.

Earlier this month, the university announced its summer courses would be held virtually and at a lower price.

President Armstrong says the pandemic will affect Cal Poly's budget over the next two to three years.