In-Person Enrollment: The Talking Point of Spring 2022

Sarah Rodriguez and Cal Riederer

The curriculum is changing and it’s coming sooner than you think

As we embark on the third consecutive semester of predominantly remote instruction, a number of questions remain regarding the future of the Spring 2022 curriculum. As for students reliant on remote instruction, buckle up.

Here’s what we know:

At the start of the pandemic, The Department of Education issued an emergency authorization that allowed temporary flexibilities for institutions or accredited agencies impacted by COVID-19.

Put simply, universities and institutions now had the green light to transition from in-person instruction to remote learning in benefit of campus health. The issue? This emergency order expires in December 2021.

To further complicate matters, the expiration of the order requires that courses within university catalogs, listed as on-ground/in-person instruction, must be taught under that modality in Spring 2022 meaning, courses must revert to their pre-pandemic teaching modality.

Universities remain hopeful that the Department of Education moves to extend the emergency order to, at least, allow students and faculty more time to prepare for the inevitable return of in-person courses. “It is a safe assumption to make that there will be a higher proportion of on-ground courses in Spring Semester, 2022 than in Fall Semester, 2021,” said Mitch Watnik, the Associate Dean of Academic Programs and Services at California State University, East Bay.

The University’s Academic Senate met on Sept. 28 to discuss this topic along with two potential proposals (21-22 CIC 7 and 21-22 CAPR 1) to aid departments in their decision to offer online courses next spring. “Most departments are going to return to pre-pandemic course offerings,” although, ”everyone should understand that there are courses that the faculty feel strongly that should not be offered online (such as science labs) under normal circumstances,” added Watnik.

Ultimately, the modality for courses offered in Spring 2022, will be dependent on a number of fluid factors. The decision lies in the hands of The U.S. Department of Education, CSUEB academic departments, and that of students who exhibit an ability to make the potential transition to on-ground learning.

“It depends upon the major and the courses that are needed, but I would think that many more students will have at least one in-person course in the Spring and should plan accordingly,” said Watnik.

Before action is taken, it is recommended students check with their academic advisors for additional help. “Advisors can help students determine the best schedules that will satisfy requirements and their personal situations,” Watnik explained. As a guide, the Spring 2022 academic schedule is set to go live on Oct. 25 and will include course offerings and modalities according to various majors.

As expected, students and faculty are still wary about the potential move to an in-person teaching modality. Regarding the transition, Dr. Danvy Le, a Political Science professor at CSUEB, said “asking students who have been off campus for almost two years to return may have repercussions, especially if we are not offering support services to help them settle into campus life and feel safe.”

Additionally, many faculty members encourage department heads to err on the side of caution as they consider the mode of the curriculum. In the Academic Senate meeting, State-wide Senator Julie Glass expressed her concerns, “I don’t think it’s a decision that should be taken lightly to have the option of offering courses online, it’s a big decision… I urge caution in moving forward quickly again, it’s a permanent solution for what we hope is a temporary problem for those who are only looking at this in terms of the impact on spring.”

As students prepare to navigate this upcoming semester and its changes, we look to the university for guidance. President Sandeen exhibited a will to support the student community in this transition, “Of course, we will continually monitor public health conditions as well. We are prepared to pivot to appropriate teaching modalities as needed.”