What Are Southern California Colleges Planning for the Fall?

Story by Larry Altman, Tori Edgar

One thing is certain about the fall college semester: Nothing is certain.

As college leaders throughout the United States work on COVID-19-related plans to reopen their campuses, bring students back from virtual learning and into classrooms, and enable them to move into dorms, the days are starting to dwindle.

The COVID-19 pandemic has created uncertainties about when — and even if — colleges can resume, whether the fall semester will be conducted remotely and if parents should send tuition and housing checks.

SoCal Connected contacted and viewed websites for 59 Southern California universities and colleges for the latest in their fall plans. Most colleges that responded or posted updates on their websites said they were awaiting instruction from county health officials on what to do. Every college was hopeful students can return, either online or in-person with social distancing guidelines still to be decided.

While some colleges updated websites in early May, others had not done so since April.

American Jewish University’s statement, for example, appeared to sum up the unusual situation college officials find themselves in. The college located atop Mulholland Drive in the Sepulveda Pass wrote that, like all colleges, officials were awaiting “the recommendations of public health officials” to finalize decisions.

“In the meantime,” officials told SoCal Connected, “we have begun our planning process for reopening, and anticipate instituting a range of measures to ensure the health of our community, including increased social distancing on campuses, additional cleaning of our facilities, and robust communications to our staff and students about measures that they can take to prevent disease spread.”

Notably, the CSU system has not finalized any plans for its 23 campuses, although each college might institute differences in how they go about reopening to students. The UC system said no campuses will fully reopen in fall, using a mixed approach with in-person classrooms and labs, and online instruction.

UC Irvine Chancellor Howard Gillman said it is likely social distancing efforts will still be in place and the amount of activity will “depend on the state of testing and contact tracing later this summer.” Gillman said he will have more to say later this month.

“Our goal is to have as many students back to the campus as possible, and as many in-person activities restarted, consistent with prevailing public health guidance,” Gillman said. “At this time, I believe it is extremely unlikely that we will be going back to the ‘old normal’ by the time the fall quarter starts, but we are doing all we can to begin the transition away from the remote routine we are currently experiencing.”

Here is the latest on what colleges have announced:

American Jewish University, Los Angeles

  • Dates for reopening physical campus uncertain; Planning underway for reopening with social distancing and cleaning measures to prevent disease spread.

Antioch University Los Angeles, Culver City

  • Decisions on returning from remote education to buildings in the fall will be based on public health recommendations. Officials will assess as the summer progresses.

Azusa Pacific University, Azusa

  • Azusa Pacific University did not make any information available on their plans for fall 2020.

Biola University, La Mirada

  • Task force is planning how to reopen campus to students in the fall, including working on academic offerings, campus security and safety, cleanliness and social distancing.

California Baptist University, Riverside

  • University officials are “prepared and planning” to reopen student housing and resume on ground classes for the fall 2020 semester, the campus announced April 23.

California Institute of Technology, Pasadena

California Institute of the Arts, Valencia

  • Proposing “hybrid models of education” that include in-person learning and access to studios, labs, and facilities, along with remote learning.

California Lutheran University, Thousand Oaks

  • “Closely monitoring” developments locally, nationally and internationally. Developed plans to address multiple scenarios.

California State University System

  • None of the CSU’s 23 campuses has announced final plans for fall, but some addressed their plans individually.  California State University Maritime Academy has received governor’s approval for limited face-to-face instruction for the spring term, so it is possible that will continue in the fall.

California Polytechnic State University, San Luis Obispo

  • Cal Poly San Luis Obispo did not make any information available on their plans for fall 2020.

California State Polytechnic University, Pomona

  • Planning for various scenarios, including in-person, partially remote/hybrid, and fully remote.

California State University, Bakersfield

  • No final decisions reached, but details to be released soon.

California State University, Dominguez Hills

  • Convened a fall 2020 Recovery Planning Committee charged with working through scenarios to determine the best approach forward.

California State University, Fullerton

  • Hope to have classes in person, but the faculty is preparing to start the semester virtually. Full semester will not be online, at this time.

California State University, Long Beach

  • Waiting on recommendations from authorities.

California State University, Los Angeles

  • No plans finalized for fall semester.

California State University, Northridge

  • Waiting on recommendations from authorities.

California State University, San Bernardino

  • California State University San Bernardino has not yet released a plan for reopening in the fall.

California State University, San Marcos

  • Considering several scenarios for fall, but no decisions reached.

Chapman University, Orange

  • Plans for students to return to campus in the fall.

Claremont Colleges system

  • Hoping to return to in-person classes this fall. Groups working on plans for academic, research and residential programs. More information to come.

Claremont Colleges – Claremont McKenna College

  • Working on ways to teach on campus, including larger classrooms and outdoors, as well as hybrid and remote courses.

Claremont Colleges – Harvey Mudd

  • Harvey Mudd has not yet released a plan for reopening in the fall.

Claremont Colleges – Pitzer

  • Pitzer has not yet released a plan for reopening in the fall.

Claremont Colleges – Pomona

  • Pomona has not yet released a plan for reopening in the fall.

Claremont Colleges – Scripps

  • Refer to Claremont College’s system response.

Concordia University, Irvine

  • Plans to return to campus in the fall.

Fashion Institute of Design & Merchandising, Los Angeles

  • Some online courses already were in place for years. Fall quarter begins in October, when officials hope students will be back in classrooms.

Hope International University, Fullerton

La Sierra University, Riverside

  • Committed to having classes on campus in the fall if it comports with the law and can be done safely. Nothing decided for fall quarter, which begins Sept. 21.

Loma Linda University, Loma Linda

  • “Weighing various factors and scenarios” for 2020-21 academic year. No decisions made.

Loyola Marymount University, Westchester

  • Planning for in-person instruction, but preparing contingency plans; Anticipate opening residence halls and apartments. Update scheduled for May 27.

Marymount California University, Rancho Palos Verdes

  • Planning to open for in-person classes this fall as government guidelines permit. The university will still offer some classes online and faculty will be prepared to teach remotely.

Mount St. Mary’s University, Los Angeles

  • Anticipates opening campuses for the fall term at the scheduled time with accomodations for social distancing. Planning a contingency plan if a normal opening is not possible.

National University, Various

  • National University did not make any information available on their plans for fall 2020.

New York Film Academy, Burbank

  • New York Film Academy did not make any information available on their plans for fall 2020.

Occidental College, Los Angeles

  • Formed a “Fall 2020 Working Group” to assess options for academic programs and college operations, including complete return of students, faculty and staff; delayed or staggered returns, and remote learning. Report due May 22.

Otis College of Art and Design, Los Angeles

  • No plans announced for fall semester.

Pacific States University, Koreatown

  • University switched to online classes for the summer quarter, but has not yet made plans for fall.

Pepperdine University, Malibu

Point Loma Nazarene University, San Diego

  • Intend to start semester face-to-face; Developing options for instruction, residential life and on-campus activities.

San Diego State University, San Diego

  • Part of the CSU system, SDSU is planning for multiple scenarios for fall, but no decisions have been reached for academics, housing and other activities.

Soka University of America, Aliso Viejo

  • Studying options for the fall. No decisions made.

Southern California University of Health Sciences, Whittier

  • Multidisciplinary team identifying and planning for a range of scenarios, but plan to reopen July 13.

The Master’s University, Santa Clarita

  • Intend to open at full capacity in August with dorms, dining services, athletics, facilities, library, classrooms fully operational

Thomas Aquinas College, Santa Paula

  • Plan to open for in-person instruction this fall if possible with potential measures to limit exposure between students and faculty.

University of California system

  • No campuses will fully reopen in fall. Exploring mixed approach with classroom and labs, along with online instruction.  Individual campuses released their own information.

University of California, Irvine

  • Chancellor said he doubts a return to the “old normal” by fall, but college is working to transition from remote education. Goal is to have as many students on campus as possible with social distancing in place. More information to be released during May.

University of California, Los Angeles

  • Task force is exploring options. Officials have suggested the 2020-2021 academic year might be delivered remotely, even with some in-person classes. Tuition and fees will not be refunded no matter what happens, and housing was not guaranteed.

University of California, Riverside

  • No decisions have been made about the fall semester. Because the university is on a quarter system, fall classes begin later than schools on a semester system. The college’s announcement will come later than others.

University of California, San Diego

  • Intend to offer a combination of in-person and remote instruction. Decisions to be released at a later time.

University of California, Santa Barbara

  • Extensive planning is underway, but no decisions have been reached about fall quarter.

University of La Verne, La Verne

  • Planning to resume face-to-face instruction with some modifications for social distancing. If unable to, prepared for a hybrid or fully online education. Also planning to open residence halls with additional precautions, including cleaning, masks, gloves.

University of Redlands, Redlands

  • Task force considering options, including in-person and remote instruction, delayed start to semester. School of Business to occur as scheduled, either in-person, hybrid or online.

University of Saint Katherine, San Marcos

  • Plan for a resumption of in-person instruction and all athletic and co-curricular programs for the fall.

University of Riverside, Riverside

  • University of Riverside did not make any information available on their plans for fall 2020.

University of San Diego, San Diego

  • Plan to reopen in the fall, but officials are preparing for alternatives.

University of Southern California, Los Angeles

  • Fall plans will be announced during May and June.

University of the West, Rosemead

  • Plans to reopen on May 28 with students on campus, but will continue with remote instruction if necessary.

Vanguard University of Southern California, Costa Mesa

  • Working on plans to begin in-person classes, reopen student housing, and provide student life and athletic activities.

Westmont College, Santa Barbara

  • Plan to bring new students to campus on Aug. 27 and hold classes Aug. 31 on campus. Cancelled study-abroad programs. Assembled task force for planning to keep campus safe, including social distancing in classes, and in residence and dining halls; ability for testing and contact tracing; athletics, clubs and theater performances.

Whittier College, Whittier

  • Intend to be back on campus with social distancing. Developing backup plans.

Woodbury University, Burbank

  • Plan to start in-person classes in fall 2020 if the virus is “mainly contained.” A team is examining social distancing of students in labs, classrooms, studios, dorms. Final decision due in June or July on in-person, online education or combination.