Hepner Hall at San Diego State University
Iconic Hepner Hall at San Diego State University. Photo by Chris Jennewein

San Diego State University will conduct almost all classes online by April 6 in a decision backed Tuesday by the University Senate, the school announced, joining UC San Diego in reacting to the coronavirus risk.

“Until today, the move to virtual instruction has been voluntary,” said a statement. “This is the reason why some faculty made the proactive move to shift from in-person to virtual meetings and classes prior to today’s decision.”

Effective April 6, following March 30-April 3 spring recess, all classes will be held under virtual instruction through the end of the semester, with certain exceptions. The last day of classes for the Spring 2020 semester is May 7.

In a campuswide email, school leaders said exceptions would be “smaller lab courses, field schools, courses with a clinical component and art studios – granted on a case-by-case basis in consultation with the deans of the appropriate colleges.”

No confirmed COVID-19 cases exist within the university community, but 36,000-student SDSU will follow guidance of the California State University system on whether to cancel or delay campus events based on these criteria:

  • The essential nature of the event to the mission of the university.
  • The availability to offer or host the event using alternative modalities, including virtual options.
  • The necessity for air travel and out-of-area participants.
  • Susceptibility for the audience to be at increased risk for infection by COVID-19 (e.g., individuals over age 60, individuals with compromised immune systems).
  • Current direction or guidance from local health departments.
  • And the event size (a specific threshold has not been determined).

But the university confirms that the March 21 Explore SDSU and pre-Explore SDSU events — the university’s annual open house for prospective students, families, alumni and the community — are canceled.

Following updated guidance from the CSU, all international travel and nonessential domestic travel is suspended, the school said.

The university continues to update its webpage dedicated to SDSU’s response to global COVID-19 concerns. The site is updated daily.

As of 6 p.m. Tuesday, more than 9,000 people had signed an online petition titled “Change in-class courses to online courses due to the dangers of the COVID-19.”

As first reported by The Daily Aztec, an anonymous student created the petition Monday.

“I wanted to point out that y’all can share this petition to many more students around campus [by] logging into your blackboards and going to all your courses that you’re taking now or took in previous semesters, and going to ‘course content’ then ‘tools’ and scroll down to where it says ‘send email’ then select ‘all users’ and finally paste the link of the petition,” the student wrote.

SDSU President Adela de la Torre and other officials wrote students and staff: “Given that there are no current COVID-19 cases within the SDSU community, nor are there any cases of community transmission in San Diego as of March 10, SDSU will otherwise remain fully open for normal business.”

She said several teams are assessing the local, national and global COVID-19 situation daily to inform additional decisions as a campus.

“Our primary concern is with the safety and well-being of all members of our community, and each of us has a personal responsibility to help ensure individual and community health,” said de la Torre, joined by co-signers Salvador Hector Ochoa, provost and senior vice president for academic affairs; Mark Wheeler, University Senate chair; and Christian Onwuka, Associated Students president. “Thank you for your continued attention to this evolving global situation.”