Fall return to in-person: ‘not going to go back to a pre-COVID time’

Biology+professor+David+Marcey+and+Emily+Jabourian+conduct+research+in+a+Cal+Lutheran+lab.

Contributed - Brian Stethem, University Photographer

Biology professor David Marcey and Emily Jabourian conduct research in a Cal Lutheran lab.

Madisyn Morin, Reporter

California Lutheran University President Lori Varlotta announced in a March 12 email that the university plans to host classes in person in the fall 2021 semester. 

In the email to students, faculty and staff, Varlotta said, “we are looking forward with great excitement to a more typical fall semester.” 

In an email interview, Varlotta said students and faculty at Cal Lutheran should expect ongoing communication regarding plans for the fall semester.

“Students and faculty should expect more than one detailed email regarding plans and guidelines for the fall semester over the coming weeks,” Varlotta said. “In addition to the email, campus leaders will host a Zoom session for students and their parents in the near future.”

With more subgroups of the population becoming eligible for the COVID-19 vaccine in Ventura County, Varlotta said Cal Lutheran is strongly encouraging faculty, students, and staff to get the vaccine. She said the vaccine is a big step toward getting Cal Lutheran back to normal.

Dean of the College of Arts and Sciences Jessica Lavariega Monforti said in a phone interview that this year has been tough for everyone and especially in terms of Cal Lutheran’s sense of community.

“We are planning to… [come back to campus] as safely and as cautiously as we can, while trying to maintain the Cal Lutheran community that we all love,” Lavariega Monforti said.

As students and staff come back to campus, Lavariega Monforti said she hopes many aspects of the campus compact are left intact, such as wearing masks and social distancing.

“We have to be prepared that we’re not going to go back to a pre-COVID time,” Lavariega Monforti said.

She said some of the things professors and students have learned while teaching and learning online will be incorporated into in-person classes. Lavariega Monforti said faculty are still learning what works and what doesn’t, while really trying to listen to feedback.

Lavariega Monforti said Cal Lutheran will work with individuals who cannot attend in-person courses due to health issues to make accommodations. For larger classes, she said they will try to offer them in larger spaces that can accommodate students. For laboratory classes that need to use specific lab equipment, they are looking into doing split classes with rotations to make sure every student can get time in the laboratory.

Looking toward the fall semester, Lavariega Monforti said she is excited to be back with students and fellow faculty members. Lavariega Monforti said she is looking forward to getting back the sense of community she has found at Cal Lutheran and being able to really communicate with people.

“I really miss seeing all of the really lively activity that our campus usually is filled with,” Lavariega Monforti said.

First-year commuter student Millennia Gamez said in a Zoom interview that her experience at Cal Lutheran has been a bit confusing so far since her time here has been all online. Gamez said it has been difficult for her to get to know people since she has been at home and with school being virtual.

“I am definitely planning on returning to campus in the fall if that becomes an option,” Gamez said. “I really want to get to know the campus.”

Gamez said coming back to campus would allow her to get the true college experience, something she missed out on this year because of COVID-19. She said she’s looking forward to meeting other students, walking around campus and using Cal Lutheran’s resources.

“I hope it [in-person classes] goes well and that people will take care of themselves so we won’t all suffer,” Gamez said.