Return-to-campus opinion poll results

Isabella Breda, Editor in Chief

Editor’s note: The Echo was contacted by university administrators with concerns about the use of the poll results. For this reason, The Echo will be publishing the results and responses to the open-ended question verbatim.

The Echo shared an opinion poll asking students, faculty and staff to share their opinions about California Lutheran University’s return-to-campus plans in its March 17 newsletter.

The poll was voluntary and does not reflect the opinions of those who did not volunteer to participate. The poll is not intended to be generalizable and was not conducted on behalf of the university.

There were 199 total respondents, of which 112 said that they are undergraduate students, 10 said they are graduate students, 37 said they are staff members and 36 said they are faculty members.

Responses from 4 respondents who said they were not Cal Lutheran community members were excluded from this reporting but are available in the full report. 

45.36% of respondents reported that they identify as White or Caucasian, 32.99% reported that they identify as Hispanic, Latino or Latinx, 7.22% reported that they identify as Multiracial or Biracial, 6.19% reported that they identify as Asian or Pacific Islander, 4.64% reported that they identify as Black or African American, 3.09% reported that they identify as a race or ethnicity that was not listed and 0.52% reported that they identify as Native American or Alaskan Native.

The results are below.

64.06% of the 192 individuals who responded to the question “If you are a student, do you plan to return to campus for in-person instruction in spring 2021 if given the opportunity?” indicated that they are students.

Of the 123 students who responded to the question, 16.26% responded “Yes,” 68.29% responded “No” and 15.45% responded “Maybe.” 

49.44% of the 178 individuals who responded to the question “If you are a faculty or staff member, given the choice, would you prefer to return to campus for the remainder of the spring 2021 semester or would you prefer to work remotely?” indicated that they are faculty or staff.

Of the 88 faculty or staff members who responded to the question, 19.32% of those respondents selected “Return in person,” 72.73% selected “Work remotely,” 1.14% selected “Unsure” and 6.82% responded “Other.”

195 individuals responded to the statements “I feel comfortable returning to campus for in-person instruction,” “I trust the institution to make informed decisions regarding health and safety,” “I trust students to practice adequate pandemic safety measures off campus” and “I trust faculty and staff to practice adequate pandemic safety measures off campus.”

In response to “I feel comfortable returning to campus for in-person instruction,” 31.79% selected “strongly disagree,” 28.21% selected disagree,  15.9% selected “Neither agree nor disagree,” 12.31% selected “somewhat agree” and 11.79% selected “strongly agree.”

In response to “I trust the institution to make informed decisions regarding health and safety,” 24.62% selected “Strongly disagree,” 24.62% selected “Disagree,” 15.89% selected “Neither agree nor disagree,” 18.46% selected “Somewhat agree” and 16.41% selected “Strongly agree.”

In response to “I trust students to practice adequate pandemic safety measures off campus,” 45.13% of respondents selected “Strongly disagree,” 26.67% selected “Disagree,” 9.74% selected “Neither agree nor disagree,” 15.38% selected “Somewhat agree” and 3.08% selected “Strongly agree.”

In response to “I trust faculty and staff to practice adequate pandemic safety measures off campus,” 10.26% of respondents selected “Strongly disagree,” 21.54% selected “Disagree,” 17.43% selected “Neither agree nor disagree,” 36.92% selected “Somewhat agree” and 13.85% selected “Strongly agree.”

The open-ended question “Please share any information that is influencing your preference to return/not return to campus,” received 101 responses. Below are all of the responses grouped by topic. These responses are posted verbatim.

Plan to return

I am fully vaccinated student, and I think their is low risk for myself and others.”

I feel comfortable returning and I believe that we will be in a better place at the start of the fall to allow for us to operate in person with specific safety measures in place.”

“I’m already living on campus, and I will be fully vaccinated when we return.”

I am fully vaccinated.”

“Students at the college level have been more likely to consistently practice safety measures when it comes to COVID.”

“Vaccinated, practice proper adherence to restrictions.”

Concerns about decision, timing

Afraid it is too soon to return.”

“I don’t trust the school when it comes to important decisions as they’ve let students down so many times in the recent past.”

“I feel that we’re jumping the gun on this. We should’ve followed what CSU’s and UC’s are doing.”

“A lot of the communication that comes out implies blame on the public health guidelines for what we can or can’t do, but it’s really the virus that’s limiting what we can do. Putting blame on the guidelines makes it seem like the leadership isn’t taking the threat of the virus seriously.”

“The return to campus is motivated by finances. While some students and faculty wish to return in person, that does not mean that it is safe. Students continue to have a choice of whether to return or not; faculty and staff are not given that choice.”

“Lori Varlotta seems incredibly money-hungry and profit-driven. She could barely answer basic questions to ASCLUG and I’m supposed to trust that she has our best interest in mind?”

Health concerns

My mother has severe asthma and we have been social distancing since last year. I am anxious about a mandatory return to campus. I’ve heard stories about how students will be gathered, or not have masks on, and no staff or faculty does anything about it.”

“Last semester’s outbreak makes me hesitant to go back this semester and hesitant to try to students practicing safety measures off campus.”

Being in the High risk category.”

“I have an underlying condition.”

“High risk family member in household.”

“My parents are at-risk, so I do not want to take any chances of getting the virus and passing it to my family.”

I don’t trust others to make sound decisions about gathering in large groups outside of class.”

“The rate of corona has been going up and down and i am immunocompromised and don’t want the risk.” 

“I have immediate family members with chronic illnesses that would cause COVID to be lethal.”

“Various news reports.”

“we do not have adequate spacing in offices for social distancing, we are not being given products like lysol, and if can just wait to give more a chance to get vaccinated. Also, some folks are parents and need time for schools and childcare programs to open to offer more capacity.”

“Off campus party at park, indoor classrooms with classrooms that share ventilation, commute.”

“I just don’t feel like everyone one would be responsible. I would rather be safe than sorry. Also California still has one of the highest never of COVID case. I won’t take off my mask noatyer what, but I would rather stay virtual if I would need to wear one. I don’t feel safe at all of it means someone could potentially have a biological weapon and everyone knows for a fact that not everyone will listen to the rules. It’s just not worth the risk for me or my immuno compromised family members at home.”

“There has not been enough time / data shown to make sure everything won’t just spike back up again – especially with several other states lifting the mask mandate.”

“Not feeling safe to return and fear to be contaminated.”

“Seeing what has happened at other college campuses has made me to decide not too. Also worrying about getting the virus and passing to vulnerable family members.”

“My preference is when Dr. Fauci stops wearing his double mask with vaccines then I can see myself coming back to campus.”

“The cases may be going down but the moment you (royal you) allow people to congregate more the case rates are going to go back up. Our government is essentially just treating the symptoms of the pandemic and not the problem itself. If we want to truly be rid of COVID then we need to do a proper lockdown—not the joke of the one we had last spring.”

“The health and safety of faculty/staff and fellow students.”

I have lost multiple family members to COVID. While I have been able to get my first vaccination appointment, my family members have not. Just because the vaccine mitigates the risk I may face, it does not necessarily mitigate the risk to my unvaccinated loved ones. I can still be a carrier. Because I have no health risks, though, staying home is not an option for me if the campus calls me back. When we are so close to the end of the semester and the May 1 federal marker for making vaccines available to all adults, it seems unnecessarily risky and disruptive to call staff and students back to campus now. COVID is not gone, and we are not yet out of the woods. Why celebrate a win, when we’re not yet across the finish line?”

COVID-19 policy, enforcement concerns

“I live on campus right now, but I see a lot of students who do not wear masks on campus and sometimes there are middle school students training/playing in our soccer fields.”

“I have been on campus and seen people without masks, there is nothing stoping them and no enforcement – instructors should not be expected to be the enforcers when everyone’s health and safety is on the line.”

“‘Hygiene theater’: only requiring students to test negative for COVID19 once prior to return and not requiring faculty/staff to test negative at all.”

I know of staff traveling domestically during the pandemic and returning to work in person the next day, I see students not wearing masks every time I am on campus, visitors are going to be allowed on campus regardless of where they live (out of state without proof of quarantine).”

“The amount of people I’ve seen not following the guidelines of the pandemic-I have high risk family and to bring home Covid to them because others do not care to protect others is unfair. Also we are still not out of the woods yet there is another surge predicted soon and now is not the time to loosen restrictions and see everyone.”

“I’ve seen on social media students and employees not following restrictions- traveling extensively then returning to campus a day after travel without quarantine. Administration has also set classroom occupancies based on square footage and outdated blueprints vs actual room set up. There are no filters currently in rooms we were told would have standalone filters because windows don’t open. There is no plan or authority to implement and enforce the campus compact. Campy safety has explicitly refused to ask community members to mask or escort visitors off campus should they refuse to mask. The majority of the community, students, are not vaccinated allowing for continued transmission and infection with CoVID.”

“Students are going to continue to socialize inappropriately because it’s their college experience, and probably employees do as well it’s just not as obvious. Walking through campus most people don’t wear masks, especially visitors walking their dogs that we don’t seem able to control. Athletics faculty especially have been known for going maskless. Ultimately, the administration repeatedly looks at the bottom line at the expense of staff health or wellbeing. If admin really wants us to come back they should provide vaccines like they originally promised.”

“I trust the university to make the best decision for itself at the expense of the faculty, staff, and students. I am already required to work in-person in an office that is too small to hold in-person meetings. The university spent money to buy a webcam for my computer so that I could continue to hold zoom meetings, but not have the government recommended safety of working from home. This campus has long cherry-picked from the state higher education guidelines to suit its own needs by completely ignoring the adjacent office work guidelines. I don’t work in a classroom, I work in an office.”

“I think the housekeeping staff is overworked, of no fault of their own, to be able to manage cleaning for so many people on campus. If we do not provide them with the resources, both supplies and personnel, I don’t trust that the spaces will be safe. I also do not trust that students, staff, and faculty will all practice the safety precautions necessary to return.”

“students are not being safe with all the partying they do.”

“Students are likely not to practice pandemic safety measures.”

“Multiple student /gatherings off-campus, staff/workers (facilities) refusing to wear masks in buildings. I fear for our housekeeping staff and faculty with those irresponsible people.”

“Measures put in place, declining rates in the county, motivation by staff to serve students and to ensure fulfillment of our educational promises.”

“Been hearing that everyone wants to go back to normal and be around people, but everyone has different comfort levels and safety/health practices. Everyone is not the same and if we are able to successfully do work remotely, the rush to go back to campus to be around others to do the same work we are doing and have been doing seems a tad reckless.”

“Trusting others to practice safety measures.”

“students following no rules, hanging parties, getting covid and not reporting it.”

“Not sure of people on campus have been vaccinated and still follow masking, social distancing and cleaning hands.”

“It’s almost reverse-ageism to presume that older adults (faculty and staff) are covid-free and don’t need to be tested to go back to campus.”

“The campus is open to anyone and doesn’t have much reinforcement of rules and regulations.”

“Red Zone does NOT equal Safe enough to return to class. Students living on campus right now might be doing well, but that does not mean other students will do well.”

“People don’t use masks and social distance as they should. The numbers in the county are still pretty high.”

“students are always throwing parties and not caring about what’s going on right now. so how will i know if i am being safe if they are not the ones taking precautions.”

Faculty and staff should also be required to provide a negative covid test and students should be tested immediately before returning to campus and potentially weekly.”

“I am playing a sport and don’t want to test positive for covid and not be able to play.”

“Scheduling conflicts, health safety.”

Childcare concerns

“I am a single parent with children at home that I am caring for. They are not returning to school and I have no way of providing care for them when I am expected to return to work. The university does not seem to take into account that we have aging family and children at home.”

“My children are in elementary school in LAUSD schools and I don’t know for certain if they are returning.”

“Babysitting a young sibling.”

Quality of education or consistency 

I think switching back this late in the semester will be chaotic and stressful.”

“Two things: First, this will only be for a month and will greatly disrupt instruction for most students (majority of students appear to have choosen virtual). Two, the university has not demonstrated an understanding how COVID transmits, transparency in explaining the transition back, and informing students of the risk that they will take coming back to campus (it’s all positive, nothing realistic).”

“The main reason that I would prefer to continue working remotely (from my office) is that changing to in-peron teaching will require changes to the structure of I the class is delivered, changes in the schedule, and possibly I will lose some time trying to adapt, which may not allow me to cover all the material I had originally scheduled to teach this semester.”

I don’t want to be one of 3 kids in person when the 20 other students in my class are still on Zoom.”

Farther commute than normal would make it more difficult to be in person for all of my classes. I want to attend some of my classes in person, but with the timing of certain classes, it would be more convenient to stay online for some of the classes.”

I am an out of state student who has been home since the initial closure a year ago and it doesn’t make sense to go back to risk having to go home again.”

“We are already half way done with the semester, virtually for me has been working out fine. I do not see a reason to change that.”

In person education has such better quality.”

“How far I am from campus, not enough people being vaccinated, not much time left in the semester”

“Teaching virtually is hard, but teaching both virtually and in-person at the same time is much harder and I’m not sure the learning experience is better for either group.”

“I haven’t been doing as well in school with online learning but I’ve also seen many students being irresponsible during these times.”

“I would prefer to not return this semester since I live off campus and would not like to switch half way through the semester.”

“Its already half way through the semester, I may as well finish it staying at home”

“Mostly virtual classes. Too far to commute.”

“The main reason that I would prefer to continue working remotely (from my office) is that changing to in-peron teaching will require changes to the structure of I the class is delivered, changes in the schedule, and possibly I will lose some time trying to adapt, which may not allow me to cover all the material I had originally scheduled to teach this semester.”

“Shifting back to in person format in terms of testing and grading. I feel in person instructing is the most effective method of delivering information, but to maintain all fairness all assignments and testing methods should remain virtual as they have been.”

“My health and safety, plus already comfortable with being at home. I do not want to commute.”

Vaccination levels too low

“The amount of people vaccinated hasn’t reach a high enough level yet.”

“I am vaccinated, but my students are not.”

“Conversations with students who have decided they will not get any vaccine.”

“I think all students, staff, and faculty should be vaccinated before returning to campus.”

“All students need to be vaccinated before we go back to in-person instruction. Also, changing the format of courses halfway through the semester is not helpful to students.”

“Family has not been vaccinated yet.”

“No enforcement of vaccines *OR* requirement of regular COVID-19 testing.”

“I will fortunately be fully vaccinated, however, knowing that I might still be able to carry/transmit the virus to my vulnerable family members make me hesitant to return with students on campus.”

“Not everyone is vaccinated yet and students will do as they please, meaning they won’t wear masks properly or won’t practice social distancing around campus. I don’t feel comfortable inside of a classroom with 5 or more other students. I’d rather remain outside.”

“I do not feel safe as there are still people with covid in the county. Everyone ought to be vaccinated prior to returning to campus.”

“Until all adults and most students have been vaccinated, close student interaction should be very limited. Why put faculty and staff who have to support this population of students at-risk? It is simply NOT FAIR.”

“I think personally all instructors and staff should be required to get the Covid vaccine unless they can’t for health purposes. Since students who live on campus are required to get a bunch of other vaccinations it’s only fair for the safety of the students for staff to be required to get the vaccine as well.”

“Many students we serve will not be fully vaccinated this semester but they will be occupying our work spaces. The extent to which Cal Lu is informing us of COVID+ cases in our vicinity (per AB 685) not sure. The sudden pivot is disruptive and needs to be gradual to be effective and minimize harm.”

“I’m not vaccinated yet, and with the more virulent mutations of COVID-19, I don’t completely feel comfortable returning to campus. I trust most of my fellow students, but I also know there was a gathering held toward the end of last semester that resulted in some COVID-19 cases, so I don’t know if all students will practice adequate safety measures off campus.”

Physical distance is a barrier

Commuting would be difficult at this time because of lack of consistent access to a car.”

I live far away. Also I don’t like CLU. More friends in hometown.”

I live too far to reasonably commute, but after students threw a party that resulted in more cases on campus, I do not trust students to take the right precautions to prevent contracting and spreading the virus.”

“May or may not be able to depending on commuting status; However, I do feel comfortable being on campus.”

“I am still at home so I can not make it.”

“I live to far away.”

“Long commute, already informed school about staying virtual, and past incidents that have caused covid cases, mistrust in students taking this seriously.”

“I do not trust college students to follow the rules and I live too far away to commute.”

“I’ve already moved out of the area and cannot return.”

There is one additional student that responded to this question “If you are a student, do you plan to return to campus for in-person instruction in spring 2021 if given the opportunity?” that is not reflected in the demographic data because their questionnaire was incomplete.