CSU Chancellor Timothy White acknowledged this is the first time in its history that most classes with the exception of labs will be held online.
In May, White announced the system's 23 campuses will continue with online instruction. The school year began Monday morning with technical difficulties when Zoom experienced an outage that impacted all of the campuses.
The outage was quickly restored to most users, but White asked for patience, noting the online format is new to students and staff.
After working on online lesson plans for months, CSU officials say instructors will be more prepared now than in the spring.
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Other aspects of campus life have changed as well. CSU residence halls will be at less than half of its typical capacity, and following physical distancing guidelines, most dorms will be singles.
The chancellor believes the new way of life will continue even after the coronavirus pandemic ends.
White told CalMatters that about 93% of the 81,000 courses offered during the fall will be virtual.
"We are positioned to make alterations as the health pandemic continues," White said. "If it mitigates, that's one thing, that's great. If it doesn't mitigate, if it becomes worse, we have plans for pivoting even for the 7% of our courses."
White said the CSU system will follow the science and data, and is anticipating another wave of COVID-19 cases in the fall.
On top of COVID-19 concerns, the CSU system is encouraging students to get the flu shot.
CSU will not be discounting tuition despite the online learning model.
The CSU campuses moved to virtual learning in March due to the pandemic.