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University Of California Announces Return To In Person In Fall

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Some Chinese immigrants are fighting a plan to bring affirmative action to California's public universities like UCLA. (Robyn Beck/AFP via Getty Images)
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The University of California announced on Monday that it will return to in-person instruction on all 10 of its campuses in the fall 2021 semester.

“Current forecasts give us hope that in the fall our students can enjoy a more normal on-campus experience,” said UC President Michael V. Drake in a written statement.

Drake, a physician who was appointed UC president last summer, made the decision after consulting with the chancellors of the 10 campuses.

His announcement didn’t include any re-opening details, such as safety measures and protocols and class offerings. That’ll be worked out by administrators, employees, and students at each of the campuses.

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“We've been trying to get back to in-person sooner rather than later,” said Jeff Barrett, chair of the faculty senate at UC Irvine. He’s been part of reopening discussions on his campus.

He said it’s tough to predict what the pandemic will look like in the fall and what proportion of the population will have received one of the coronavirus vaccines by then, which makes a return to campus far from risk-free.

“We need to take care of our students who are at risk and also our faculty who are at risk," he said. "Many of the faculty who teach at the University of California are older, and consequently they are better targets for the virus.”

A UC Irvine spokeswoman said the campus will not require vaccinations to return to campus.

One adaptation being considered at UC Irvine, Barrett said, is to create “dual mode” courses in which most of the class meets in person, with an online component for students who decide not to attend in person. But that’s time-consuming for faculty.

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The UC Student Association wants reopening plans to include input from vulnerable student populations.

“Are they going to consider unique situations of disabled students who wouldn't be able to return to a full in person presentation of the UC,” said UC San Diego psychology major Syreeta Nolan, who focuses on advocating for disabled students in her role as the student association’s officer for underrepresented students.

But Nolan and other students say the reopening announcement is welcome news.

“I miss the campus culture,” said UCLA senior and UC Student Association President Aidan Arasasingham, “walking down Bruin walk, seeing hundreds of people, that excitement, that energy of running into people.”

The announcement is bittersweet, Arasasingham says, because he’s graduating this spring.

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