California University of Pennsylvania to offer classes on campus this spring

‘It’s all about choice’: Cal U will teach labs, hands-on courses in person, while retaining remote learning option for students


Cal U Communications

Old Main, California University of Pennsylvania.

Cal U Communications

California University of Pennsylvania is prepared to “level up” and offer on-campus courses when the spring semester begins.

The University announced today that it expects to offer about 50% of undergraduate courses on campus this spring – primarily labs, studio and performance courses, and other hands-on learning experiences. The remaining courses will continue to be offered through real-time remote learning, a hybrid (in-person and virtual) approach, or 100% online.

As outlined in the University’s Guide to Operations, the spring plan represents a shift from Cal U’s entirely remote (Level 4) operation currently in effect, to Level 3, which permits some on-campus activity. Spring classes will begin January 25.

“Both students and faculty, especially those in experiential courses, tell us they need those hands-on learning opportunities,” said Dr. Daniel Engstrom, interim provost and vice president for Academic Affairs.

“With stringent protocols in place to mitigate risk – and with the cooperation of our entire campus community – we believe we can resume teaching some courses in person while maintaining a healthful environment for our students, faculty and staff.”

Cal U has installed cameras in every classroom, so faculty can broadcast their on-campus lessons in real time. Students will have the option to participate remotely if they prefer.

“It’s all about choice,” Engstrom said. “Many students are doing well with remote learning and feel safer staying at home. They can continue with remote learning this spring. But for students who learn better in a classroom setting, there will be an opportunity to take some hands-on courses in person with their professors.”

About 620 single-occupancy rooms will be available in Cal U residence halls, and dining services will be available. Students in “experiential majors” that require labs and other hands-on courses will be prioritized when assigning rooms. Student-athletes also will be housed on campus.

Safety Measures

Cal U students who return to campus will be required to follow health and safety guidelines. Classrooms, dining facilities, the fitness center and other spaces have been configured to allow for social distancing, and enhanced cleaning schedules are in place. Face coverings will be required inside campus buildings and outdoors when individuals are not able to stay six feet apart. No visitors will be allowed in residence halls, and most campus events will still be held remotely.

In addition, all Cal U students, faculty and staff will be expected to use a customized app to perform a daily self-check for COVID-19 symptoms before coming to campus.

Individuals whose self-check indicates potential exposure to COVID-19 will receive instructions for follow-up care via the app. Those who report being symptom-free will receive a time-sensitive badge that can be used to gain entry to residence halls, classrooms, common areas, offices and other campus locations.

In a message to the Cal U community, University President Geraldine Jones stressed the need for everyone to follow health and safety measures.

“If we want the choice to return to campus, everyone must make the choice to protect themselves and those around them,” President Jones said.

“We need to take this seriously. We have all seen how quickly the coronavirus can spread if we don’t remain vigilant – and we know how serious COVID-19 can be. Frequent handwashing, keeping our distance, wearing a mask and monitoring our health – these are the steps that will allow us to keep Cal U open.”

The University’s plans explicitly note that Cal U is prepared to return to fully remote instruction at any time, should conditions warrant.

For more information about Cal U’s plans for the Spring 2021 semester, read the Guide to Operations at