By Ricardo Martinez and John Malapitan
After a week of being back on campus, students still have mixed thoughts on in-person classes. While some feel that it is necessary, others feel that it should be postponed due to the COVID-19 cases present in the San Bernardino area.
On January 11th, CSUSB president Tomàs D. Morales notified colleagues and students through email that the majority of courses will open for remote/online instruction for the beginning of the Spring 2022 semester. This decision took effect starting on January 22 through February 18th, in a response to the resurgence of Covid-19 cases and different variants in the San Bernardino region. “I have been working daily with the Cabinet and Repopulation Committee to monitor the latest news around COVID, including internationally, nationally and locally. Promoting a healthy campus community is at the top of my priorities and I do not take this pandemic lightly,” stated Morales.
Many community members, staff and students had to adjust to the announcement made a week before the start of the Spring semester. One of these students, Jason Barrera, a senior who is on track to graduate after the Spring 2022 semester, felt glad that there was a plan for a campus return. “I understand that the omicron variant has caused many restrictions to return in our area, and having the campus shut down for about a month is one of them,” said Barrera. “It’s my last semester here and I would love to enjoy it by seeing friends and eating on campus when we return.”
Barrera, who has gotten the Pfizer booster shot, thinks that it was the best decision to put a hold on a campus return. He believes this allows many community members to also get their booster shot before returning to campus. “After January, it seems that cases have been going down, hopefully with everyone getting their booster shot there will be less worry of the virus,” stated Barrera.
Another senior attending CSUSB who plans to graduate after the Spring semester, Mike Ruelas, feels that the return to online learning should be extended for the rest of the semester. “It is a little too soon to return to campus, even if there are still a few cases that are around our area right now, that still makes it a possibility for someone to get Covid,” he said.
Ruelas has adjusted to the online atmosphere and does prefer in-person learning but due to the circumstance, he feels that staying online for as long as it takes is best to keep the community safe. “It does get distracting at times, but I don’t mind it. I wouldn’t want to take the risk of getting the virus and spreading it to someone else who might not be vaccinated.”
CSUSB has made it a requirement for students and non-represented employees to obtain a booster by February 28 and update the self-certification status on their #mycoyote portal. Booster shots are being offered on both campus locations but are limited. Students and employees can also seek exemptions based on medical and religious grounds but must follow certain measures.
Another student, Luis Saldivar, who is a sophomore got to experience both an online experience and an in-person one and is excited about the return as long as safety is a priority. “Herd immunity is one thing that we are getting close to, if people follow all the precautions, then the campus return should be safe,” stated Saldivar. He is hopeful for the return, not only for getting to learn in a classroom again but he is most excited about seeing everyone again. “Interacting with one another is one of the greatest gifts ever. That’s how we build relationships, getting to know the people around us, talking to one another face to face is very hard to do online,”
As the return date comes closer, the support brought by CSUSB has been immense by continuing to offer services on campus during these times of uncertainty. Students can get their booster by appointment and also get tested weekly through the on-site campus testing located at the Yasuda Center. President Tomàs D. Morales acknowledges this in his announcement and reminds the community to check the Return to the Pack website for the latest information. “The gift of working at a university is seeing, each day, the potential for building lives and creating bright futures. So let us start this semester, together in hope, by treating one another with empathy and care.”