Amidst rising COVID-19 cases, Azusa Pacific University announces their Spring 2021 semester will be virtual 

In an email sent out at roughly 9:36 a.m. on Dec. 3, President Paul Ferguson announced that the APU Spring 2021 semester will be virtual. 

The email read, “We formally announce that APU intends to remain in remote learning for Spring 2021.” It continued saying “the Spring 2021 semester will follow the Fall 2020 remote learning framework with limited campus access for those students who do not have viable housing alternatives, students receiving training in programs essential to pandemic recovery, and some athletes permitted for outdoor conditioning regimens.”

The email mentions that APU participated in a coalition of private colleges that were requesting a safe return to campus from the Los Angeles County Board of Supervisors. The requests were not considered further once the surge in cases began. 

President Ferguson goes on to say that the APU Return to Campus Task Force continues to work diligently to plan for a 2021 return. He also discusses the current status of the L.A. County Department of Public Health stay at home orders and APU’s plans to adhere to remote working guidelines as much as possible.  

The statement also addresses some financial concerns, explaining that the measures taken in the Fall 2020 semester were successful in addressing the fiscal effects of COVID-19. He mentions that “there is an estimated $9-13M loss of revenue for Spring 2021,” meanwhile there are also further expenses including “additional cleaning, new technology, and health services per public health guidelines, totaling $6-9M for the year.” 

The school plans to account for this deficit in a multitude of ways including suspending travel through June 30, 2021, voluntary salary reductions, reducing faculty research and administrative units, enabling increased full-time faculty teaching units, decreasing reliance on adjunct faculty, increasing course enrollments by 10-15%, utilizing all vacation hours and strategically issuing furloughs and unavoidable layoffs.  

The decision was reportedly based on several factors, including the current surge in COVID-19 cases in Los Angeles County. 

Mayor Eric Garcetti announced another Los Angeles stay-at-home order. In his briefing, the mayor claims “It’s time to hunker down. It’s time to cancel everything.”

The state of California currently has over 40 counties in its purple tier, and Los Angeles County has continued to break new records in cases and hospitalizations. As of yesterday, L.A. County reported 5,987 new cases and reached a 7-day average of 75,809 cases. 

For all students wishing to ask questions or address concerns, the Student Government Association (SGA) has planned a Town Hall on Friday, Dec. 11, at 10:30 a.m. Here is the link to sign up. 

There will be additional emails and information from offices across campus over the next few weeks to prepare for a virtual Spring 2021 semester.