January and winter term classes will be all online, and spring 2020 graduation, which had been postponed with the hope that graduates could return for a live event, will also be online in January 2021 as will the event for January 2021 graduates, President Devorah Lieberman announced this week by email.
The virtual graduation ceremonies will take place Jan. 29 and 30.
The decisions were made by taking into account the Los Angeles County Public Health guidelines, Centers for Disease Control and Prevention guidelines, and safety of the community as the nation continues to grapple with the coronavirus pandemic, which has killed more than 212,000 Americans, including more than 16,000 in California to date.
“These times were unprecedented unfortunately and these decisions were not made lightly,” said university spokeswoman Alexandra Clayton, who is also part of the commencement task force.
After the postponement of last spring’s commencement, she said the task force did not want to delay the celebration further. Plans for the virtual commencement have already begun, Clayton said.
“We have to accept this is a long-term issue and it’s our prerogative to keep moving forward and to ensure we celebrate our graduates’ achievements,” Clayton said.
More information about the virtual ceremonies will be forthcoming, she added.
As for the decision about continuing with remote learning for January and winter terms, Provost Jonathan Reed said it was made to ensure everyone’s safety.
“At this point it is safest for our community to remain remote,” Reed said.
A decision about spring semester will be announced in December, Reed said.
He added that he anticipates a phased return going forward, for which students and faculty may be able to opt in for some face-to-face labs, experiential learning, with the majority of classes still being fully remote.
“We can phase up classes if things get better, but at this point I don’t think we will go beyond phase one,” said Reed.
“It’s difficult to plan ahead to be anything but remote next semester,” said Juan Regalado, chief student affairs officer.
In the email sent Monday, Lieberman expressed her gratitude to faculty and staff for their work to serve the students through the transition to all online during the fall semester.
“Things will be different if we go back,” Regalado said. “There will be certain rules to get used to and an expectation that we will follow those precautions.”
Cheyenne Vargas can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.