CSU Monterey Bay to move forward with in-person instruction

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SEASIDE — While more than half of all California State Universities have announced plans to begin their spring semesters virtually, CSU Monterey Bay will move forward with in-person instruction.

CSUMB President Eduardo Ochoa announced Tuesday morning the college will resume the new term as scheduled on Jan. 24, bringing students back for face-to-face classes.

“The cumulative effects of remote instruction create a real and significant adverse impact on student mental health and can hinder our students’ progress toward completing their degrees,” Ochoa said in his message. “To counter these realities, we must make the educational experience whole – safely and responsibly.”

CSUMB’s decision diverges from at least 13 other CSU campuses that will begin the upcoming semester remotely amid the winter coronavirus winter surge.

Amy Thomas, CSUMB director for environmental health, safety, risk and management, explained that guidance from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, the California Department of Public Health, the Monterey County Health Department, and Cal/OSHA, as well as hygiene supply provision and general campus case counts have all factored into the university’s choice to keep instruction in-person.

Since the start of the pandemic, CSUMB has reported a total of 219 cases among its campus community. Of those, 142 were reported on campus, while 138 of those who tested positive were students. At the start of January, the college reported a cumulative 190 cases, meaning CSUMB has logged 29 new cases among its students, staff, faculty and contractors between Jan. 2 and Jan. 12.

Ochoa assured in his message that the “health and safety of our community remain our highest priority,” and that the college is “confident existing public health measures provide for a safe environment capable of delivering a complete college experience on the CSUMB campus.”

To return to campus, the university announced last month that students must submit proof of a COVID-19 booster before the spring semester begins on Jan. 24, or when eligible following their last vaccine dose, whichever is later. This complies with a mandate from the CSU Chancellor’s Office requiring all on-campus students, faculty and staff who are accessing university facilities or programs to receive a booster shot by Feb. 28 or when eligible, or by an earlier date per individual campus guidance like in CSUMB’s case.

For CSUMB students residing in university housing, the cutoff is even earlier, calling for boosters by Jan. 19, otherwise, those students may face denied access to return or move in.

Students who have a qualified exemption, are not fully vaccinated, or do not submit evidence of a booster by the start of in-person instruction will be required to test weekly. Fully vaccinated employees are likewise required to submit proof of a booster before Jan. 18 or when eligible. Represented employees will not be subject to the booster requirement until labor unions are met and conferred with.

The university has not yet started collecting data on booster shots. As for vaccination rates, 97.8% of CSUMB employees have had at least one dose of the COVID-19 vaccine, while 95.6% of students are partially or fully vaccinated, according to CSUMB Chief Information Officer Chip Lenno.

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