Fresno State will cancel in-person classes starting Monday based on concerns over the coronavirus.
University President Joseph Castro discussed the announcement at a Thursday news conference at the Madden Library.
“This is a significant decision for us, which is why we took time to make it,” Castro said. “We’ve been working over the last several days to assess the risks at hand and then prepare for moving in this direction,” Castro said.
Instead, the school will utilize online learning through at least April 27.
“This is a fluid situation, so that may be subject to change,” Castro said.
Campus Remains Open
Although most classrooms will be empty, the campus will remain open
That includes dorms, dining halls and the library.
Castro said non-academic portions of the school, such as counseling and financial aid, will remain open as well.
Fresno State will use March 16-19 to prepare for the transition period, with no classes happening during that time. Online classes start March 20.
Some instruction, such as labs, farm classes and performing arts will be exempt and still meet in person. But, Castro urged caution and social distancing, meaning to stay spread out as logically possible.
Castro said the school will provide the necessary technology to students who may not have access to computers or the internet.
Despite the altered schedule, Castro does not anticipate a delay in the May graduation, or cancelling spring break.
About Health and Safety
Castro made the decision with state and local officials in both academia and public health.
“The health and safety of our campus community is paramount. While we continue focusing on our mission to educate and empower our students for success, the future leaders of our region,” Castro said.
Castro said the university will try to help any employee who may be stung by the economic impact of classes and sporting events shutting down.
“We plan to continue compensating our people, including our student assistants, because of our change to a different mode for a while. Their jobs might be different than they are right now, but we are committed to making sure that we work that out so that no one is is harmed financially from this decision,” Castro said.
The coronavirus also shut down off-campus travel. Castro said three trips in the last week were canceled.
Sports Shut Down
Bulldog athletics are effectively shut down.
“I’m saddened by that. But on the other hand, we need to make sure everybody is healthy and safe. And I think we made the right decision and consultation again with health care officials and others,” Castro said.
Earlier on Thursday, the NCAA canceled its winter sports championships. That includes the wrestling finals scheduled for next week in Minneapolis. Five Bulldogs qualified for the tournament, but will now stay home.
The women’s basketball team expected to play in some postseason tournament based on their successful regular season. Now, their season is over.
Additionally, the Mountain West Conference suspended its spring sports, meaning baseball, softball and lacrosse are among the sports done for the time being.
Castro said it is possible, but unlikely, for sports to resume.