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California State Universities 'won't return' to normal next year, chancellor says

California State Universities will offer more in-person classes in the fall but it still won't be like a traditional college before the pandemic.

"I think fall will certainly be a transitional semester for us," Chancellor Joseph I. Castro told The Bee's Education Lab. "I anticipate more in-person instruction and yet we won't return to how it was prior to the pandemic."

More virtual courses will be offered than there were a year and a half ago to meet student needs, Castro said, and each campus will find its balance.

But, virtual learning is here to stay, he confirmed.

"I think we've learned a lot and I do believe that the innovation that we've driven during this important time is going to pay off without the stress of the pandemic and there will be students who want to have more virtual courses and some of our faculty will want to continue to teach in that format," Castro said. "It'll be driven by what the students are interested in and what they want and how best we can serve them."

Last fall, Castro said, the CSUs saw record enrollment but it's difficult to predict where enrollment will be in the fall. He said he would "love" to grow and serve more student needs in California.

Fresno State ramped up its campus population for the spring semester, adding more classes and dorm-residing students.

Fresno State was among the California State University and the University of California campuses that announced the COVID-19 vaccine will be required of anyone on campus as soon as the shots are approved by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration.

The requirement would go into effect as early as the fall 2021 semester for the CSU. Students or employees can seek an exemption on medical or religious grounds.

Both the UC and CSU already have several immunization requirements, but university leaders had previously said they could not require vaccines that hadn't received FDA approval. The FDA has only issued emergency use authorization for the COVID-19 vaccines during the pandemic.

Castro left his position as president of Fresno State in 2020 and landed his new job as CSU chancellor in January, leaving in his place interim president Saúl Jiménez-Sandoval. Castro was named president of Fresno State in 2013.

The Ed Lab's Ashleigh Panoo contributed to this report.

The Education Lab is a local journalism initiative that highlights education issues critical to the advancement of the San Joaquin Valley. It is funded by donors. Learn about The Bee's Education Lab on our website.

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