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Chancellor Points to Online Fall Classes, but Fresno State Yet to Decide



Students walk and cycle past the centerpiece fountain at Fresno State
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Fresno State is continuing to mull options for reopening classes this fall semester, months after the COVID-19 pandemic forced the closure of schools and universities statewide.

The Fall 2020 Planning Task Force is considering two scenarios for fall, even though California State University Chancellor Tim White said Tuesday that most classes across the system will continue to be held online to stem the spread of the highly contagious coronavirus.

White’s remarks came at the monthly meeting of the CSU board of trustees.

The Fresno State task force chairs, Saul Jimenez-Sandoval, provost and vice president for academic affairs, and Debbie Adishian-Astone, vice president for administration and chief financial officer, said in a message posted Tuesday afternoon on the university website that the decision whether to continue with distance learning for some, most, or all classes will be made locally.

“We are grateful for the Chancellor Office’s guidance, as well as their demonstrated flexibility by understanding that each campus has its own geographic, population-density, and public-health variables,” they said.

Some Classes Can’t Be Virtual

Fresno State’s schools and colleges, which are providing input to the task force, are prioritizing classes such as clinical, laboratory, and performance that can’t be achieved in a virtual classroom.

The task force also is considering the impact of social distancing on reduced class sizes, as evidenced by questions posed by Jimenez-Sandoval and Adishian-Astone in their online message.

“Will we have enough classrooms with the appropriate space that will accommodate the demand of in-person courses? Will we have the staff necessary to offer that same course multiple times throughout the day/week to ensure physical distancing while meeting student demand for the course? Will Custodial Services have enough time (and supplies) to sufficiently deep clean the room between classes? And will we have enough personnel to perform such duties?”

The task force is scheduled to submit its conceptual plan to Fresno State President Joseph I. Castro by May 22. The president and cabinet will consider the advice of health officials and forecasts about the coronavirus before making a final decision.

Chancellor: Be Flexible

According to EdSource, White told the trustees that CSU campuses should also prepare for in-person instruction for the fall semester if the threat of the coronavirus has eased sufficiently.

But at this point, that doesn’t appear likely. Health experts are predicting a second, smaller wave this summer followed by a much larger wave in the fall, White said

Some CSU classes would continue to be on campus, such as science lab, clinical training, and engineering, agriculture, and architecture courses that are more hands-on, White said.

Nancy Price is a multimedia journalist for GV Wire. A longtime reporter and editor who has worked for newspapers in California, Florida, Alaska, Illinois and Kansas, Nancy joined GV Wire in July 2019. She previously worked as an assistant metro editor for 13 years at The Fresno Bee. Nancy earned her bachelor's and master's degrees in journalism at Northwestern University's Medill School of Journalism. Her hobbies include singing with the Fresno Master Chorale and volunteering with Fresno Filmworks. You can reach Nancy at 559-492-4087 or Send an Email