UC San Diego students, parents say ‘Return to In-Person Instruction’ announcement is misleading

SAN DIEGO (KUSI) – University of California San Diego announced this week on social media that they were excited to return to in-person classes on Jan. 31, however some parents and students are calling that announcement misleading. In the third paragraph of the press release, it states in part, “Given the unusual circumstances the Educational Policy Committee of the Academic Senate granted an emergency limited-term exception to the Policy on Distance Education Courses to allow any… to be taught remotely for this quarter, without requiring instructors to request additional approvals…”

This means that professors have the sole discretion to determine if students return to campus. When we asked how the university decided that professors would establish whether they remain virtual or return to in-person classes they said it was in response to the COVID-19 omicron surge.

“We are delighted that the COVID-19 situation on campus and in our community continues to improve, allowing for a greater return to the in-person modes of operation that afford our students so many opportunities for engaged learning, hands-on experimentation, and in-person research and co-curricular activities,” a spokesperson for UCSD said. “At the same time, we recognize that there are certain situations where remote delivery of instruction continues to be a necessity and we want to make appropriate provision for these cases.”

Parents who reached out to KUSI said they are concerned over a lack of transparency. One parent, who wished to remain anonymous for fear of repercussions, sent us this in response to the news that their student’s education would remain completely virtual for the remainder of the quarter.

“UCSD’s announcement that in-person classes return January 31 was disingenuous to the thousands of students whose professors will keep their classes online through quarter-end.

These students have done everything asked of them: vaccinated, second shot, booster, masks, social distancing, and no socializing in student housing. UCSD has an excellent track record of mitigating COVID through these efforts plus wastewater testing. San Diego is 80% fully vaccinated and UCSD even higher. Every professor and staff has had opportunity to vaccinate. I urge UCSD leadership to return classes in-person based on data! UCSD and the San Diego County Health Department acknowledge metrics are trending down & the surge will abate by month-end. Why are they permitting professors to continue online another 4-6 weeks past that point?

Many of these students’ majors are rigorous that don’t lend themselves well to the inadequacies of online much less asynchronous, which many have been doing since January 3rd. Online is not at the caliber of an in-person UCSD education.”

UCSD said health and safety has been their top concern and they have allowed the exception for continued virtual learning due to the recent spike.

“Beginning in week 5, the Academic Senate has made an exception to the Senate’s Distance Education Policy and granted instructors the flexibility to determine the best modality for their courses that will best support student learning for the remaining weeks of the Winter 2022 quarter,” UCSD said. 

They also took into account the following two considerations:

  • Whether course content is able to be effectively delivered in-person with current public health restrictions. For instance, indoor masking is required for all, which may prove challenging for courses such as language or music instruction. These programs must consider alternatives such as holding the course remotely, in-person with masking, or meeting in an outdoor classroom.
  • Instructors may be facing health, quarantine, or caregiving concerns.

When asked if there would be any compensation for students who expected to return in-person but whose professors opted for all virtual learning, UCSD said they would not be giving any form of refunds.  

“Tuition and fees are set by the Regents for all UC campuses and, under the circumstances, will remain the same. Tuition and fees have been set regardless of the method of instruction and will not be refunded in the event instruction occurs remotely for any part of the Academic Year. University charges for tuition and student services continue to help cover ongoing operations such as the delivery of instruction and the cost of student services such as registration, financial aid, and remote academic advising. Students are connecting with and learning from world-class faculty, completing coursework, earning full course credit, and making progress toward an immensely valuable UC San Diego degree, regardless of the method of teaching being used. UC San Diego student services continue to be available to students via remote options to ensure that the quarter remains a very powerful and enriching one for our students.”

The university has not announced how many classes in total will remain virtual, or how many have opted to return to in-person instruction.

KUSI’s Hunter Sowards was live in studio Wednesday evening with more details on the conflict.

UCSD’s Facebook post announcing the “return to campus” is below:

Categories: Coronavirus, Good Evening San Diego, Health, Local San Diego News