Chico State President says full in-person return could be possible in the fall

In a statement to faculty and staff, University President Gayle Hutchinson said with vaccine distribution increasing and as the pandemic spirals down, students could see a full return next semester.

Posted: Apr 1, 2021 12:09 AM

CHICO, Calif. - Fall semester could look a lot more normal at Chico State.

University officials announced a possible full, in-person return to campus.

The university said in a letter to faculty and staff that with increasing vaccinations inching towards herd immunity, they say it could be possible for the entire campus to return as soon as next semester, and some students are ready for it

"To me? It's major," said Elijah Palomino. "That's major."

He's a senior at Chico State, and for him, online classes weren't cutting it.

"Personally, last semester I took a break," he said. "It took a toll on me, I felt very disconnected from not only the campus but from myself, and the other students."

And in his pursuit at a career being a therapist.

"I want to work with people one on one," said Palomino. "I want to be able to have these personal interactions and if I want to attend, which I do, graduate school here at Chico," he said. "I don't want to spend three more years going more in debt online."

Right now, Chico State is in Phase Two of it's reopening plan which allows limited in-person student facilities, and some employees on campus. Phase Four is a complete in-person campus.

"I think it goes to kind of, the mental health of the students," said Palomino.

But what about the economic impact bringing students back fully could have on the community?

Just across the street from the university, within walking distance, is Celestino's Pizza, and the owner Enzo Perri says it would be a huge help for his business and his work force, especially after the pandemic

"We were in survival mode, it's been a year and we're in survival mode," said Perri.

And even in survival mode.

"It's still down about 30%," he said. "From our normal numbers this time of year."

Do you hire normally some Chico State students?

"I'd say about 50% to 60% of my staff, they are students," he said. "So it's important to get that labor pool back that's been missing for sure."

"I hope the worst is behind us but yes it would be a boost," said Perri about the students returning.

"For people like me," said Palomino. "It means the world if we can go back to being 100% in-person, because it just lifts my spirits that much more."

If a full student return isn't possible next semester for whatever reason, Chico State is hoping to at least have full in-person staffing by January 2022.

Chico State plans to increase the amount of employees on campus by June 7th, all part of the campus' reopening plan.

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