Cal Poly to be Virtual in Fall, 2020?


With the announcement last week that most Fall 2020 classes at Cal Poly will be held virtually (along with the other 22 campuses in the California State University system), many students and landlords are left scratching their heads at how to plan for the future. While uncertainty is rampant regarding the coronavirus and its effects, Cal Poly is needing to plan for various different scenarios, including the option of fully virtual classes, a pushed-back start date or a hybrid of online and in-person classes. Cal Poly President Jeff Armstrong is hopeful that by late summer, SLO County will be in Stage 3 of the state roadmap to reopening, which would allow for at least some in-person classes. 

At this time, Cal Poly hopes to have 15 percent of classes in-person, which would be focused on classes that incorporate labs, projects or performances, with the remainder of coursework to be taught virtually. Furthermore, in-person class sizes would need to be reduced to allow for social distancing with lectures of 35 or more students being fully online. Students and faculty who are immune-compromised will be given the option to not return in person and take all coursework online.

The university is encouraging students who are not considered vulnerable to return to campus as both a safer alternative to staying in more disease-impacted areas and to mitigate the economic impact to our region. First year students will still be required to live on campus, though the typical capacity of 8,300 students living on campus will surely be reduced with the goal of reducing overall density. The number of students that can be accommodated on campus will depend on guidance from health officials, local government and the CSU. It is certainly a challenging time to plan for the future as the coronavirus situation continues to evolve rapidly. 

At this point in the school year, most continuing students would have housing lined for the next school year, as an estimated 90% of student leases roll over at the end of June with a small percentage of leases rolling over at the end of August. With the prospect of primarily virtual classes in Fall, some students may not come back to the area until winter. This poses a few questions:

  • Will there be a crunch to find available housing in early January 2021?
  • Will landlords be willing to alter or shorten their leases from what has been typical?
  • What percentage of the total student body are likely to reside locally vs their permanent place of residence?

This is a constantly evolving situation and if you have questions, please don’t hesitate to reach out. 

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