Message from the President: Fall 2020 Update

Wednesday, June 3, 2020 - 4:09pm

Dear Sonoma State Campus Community,

Thank you for your many emails and postings of support, offers to engage, and constructive ideas in response to my “Dream Deferred” campus message sent Monday. The many responses and feedback that I have received give me hope. We are poised to look at our actions, activities, programs and services to ensure that even in these challenging budgetary times we are reflecting our values and priorities. As we are engaging in this ongoing work, I know that you are eager to find out what fall 2020 will be like at Sonoma State. As we head into summer, our faculty, administrators, staff and student employees are busily preparing for the fall semester, a semester that will be profoundly different from previous ones because of COVID-19. 

Our top priorities continue to be the health and safety of all members of our community and providing a high-quality educational experience for our students. This spring, Sonoma State proved it could rise to an unprecedented challenge as we moved quickly to remote instruction and support services. We are determined to succeed once again as we head into fall 2020. Sonoma State will offer an excellent education that is intellectually rigorous, flexible, and supportive.

I am pleased to report that the two Sonoma State Continuity Planning Groups that I established last month have provided preliminary recommendations for fall 2020. A special thanks to the four co-chairs and all of the planning group members. This update provides an overview of those recommendations.

Sonoma State’s fall classes and services will be primarily virtual in compliance with health guidance from local, state, and national agencies and in accord with CSU Chancellor Timothy White’s announcement that courses at CSU campuses will be primarily delivered virtually for the fall term with some limited exceptions. 

Our Sonoma State Academic Continuity Planning Group has recommended 26 courses for in-person instruction serving about 250 students. These are upper-division undergraduate or graduate courses that must occur in fall 2020 to help our students graduate on time and to keep our campus on track toward achieving our Graduation Initiative 2025 goals. Many of the courses plan to modify their class schedules, section sizes, and meeting structures to ensure safe practices.

First-year students will complete their coursework remotely, and those courses will be high quality and impactful. Our faculty and staff are developing compelling pedagogical and co-curricular programs and academic support to help our students engage successfully in their first semester at college. Additionally, experiences designed to engage and connect new students to other students and to their new campus will be plentiful.

Campus Housing will be open and available. The quality and design of our units allow each resident to have their own private bedroom and bathroom. While this reduces our overall housing capacity by 50 percent, it ensures maximum safety. All rooms will be charged at double occupancy rates, making this an affordable living option. We are hoping to house 1,000-1,200 students of all class levels on campus this fall, and we are asking prospective residents for confirmation of their housing commitments by June 15, 2020. For further information, see the Residential Education and Campus Housing (REACH) website

We will centralize in-person courses, create flexible-use office space for faculty/staff, and place needed support services primarily in Darwin and Salazar Halls. We will ensure Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), state and county guidelines will be followed regarding physical distancing, face coverings, sanitation, and cleaning to promote public health and provide safe conditions for learning and working.  

According to the guidelines we received from the Chancellor’s Office, I will submit our health and safety plan along with our list of courses for system approval. After submission, we anticipate hearing back from the Chancellor’s Office in two to three weeks.

Our aim is to help our students, faculty, and staff get back to campus as soon as it is safe to do so. While we will be conducting most of our work remotely through the fall, we continue to look forward to the day when we will be back on campus. By minimizing population density on campus, we are mitigating the spread of COVID-19 and protecting the health and welfare of the entire campus community. I appreciate all of the employees who are providing needed work and services on campus and those who are working remotely. 

Sonoma State stands ready to help students achieve their education goals and pursue their dreams. I cannot imagine a more important task as we seize the opportunity to address the complexities of the pandemic and address issues of social justice and racism. Clearly we have work to do. We need engaged, educated citizens who are creative problem solvers committed to making the world a better place. Our strategic plan focuses on transformative impact, and we can make that impact a reality here and now at Sonoma State. The mode of work and instruction is not as important as our commitment to equity and inclusion, student success, and academic excellence. 

Continue to stay safe and well, and please remember that being part of Noma Nation is being part of a special community of people who care about one another and our neighbors — next door, in our communities, in our state, in our country and all over the world.

This will be a different fall semester, but I am confident that, with your help, it will be a good one. Thank you for your understanding and support.

With gratitude,

Judy K. Sakaki