Fresno State students and staff will wear face masks, university housing will be single occupancy, and everybody who arrives on campus will be asked to undergo daily health screenings and temperature checks in the fall semester, the university announced Friday.
And, to cut potential exposure to COVID-19 and prevent the spread of the virus, face masks or cloth face coverings will be required in public spaces and classrooms.
Because of the ongoing threat of infection from the highly contagious coronavirus, only a small percentage of students, instructors, and other staff will be allowed on campus, and none will be on the Visalia campus.
About 2,200 people, including about 1,340 students, will be allowed on campus for classes and work this fall, the university said. That compares to Fresno State’s fall 2019 student enrollment of 24,139.
But if the number of COVID-19 cases mounts alarmingly, the campus could be closed again altogether as it was in March, when the pandemic first arrived here, President Joseph I. Castro warned.
But he said he’s optimistic that more students and staff will be able to be on campus by the spring 2021 semester.
Fall Semester Preview
Castro and two other top university administrators briefed reporters Friday morning about what the university will look like when classes start in August. Most courses will be virtual, as they were in the last two months of the spring semester.
The university’s two main goals, Castro said, are to continue to provide quality education to students, whether it’s on campus or virtually, while protecting the health and wellbeing of the entire campus.
“We firmly believe our plan strikes that delicate balance,” he said.
What About Football?
The question foremost on the minds of many people — will football and other sports be played this fall? — isn’t up to just Fresno State officials to answer. The decision will hinge on guidance from the governor’s office, the California State University chancellor, California Department of Public Health, and the Mountain West Conference.
The university is adding free baseline COVID-19 testing that will be optional for those on campus. Castro said that concerns were raised by one of the labor unions representing university employees about making the testing mandatory.
So, he said, “what we decided to do, which I’ve done at other times in my presidency, is we’re going to inspire participation, and not require participation.”
Castro said he planned to undergo the testing and hopes that everyone who comes to campus will want to be tested.
Credit/No Credit Up to Chancellor
It will be up to the chancellor’s office as to whether students will again have the opportunity to choose credit/no credit for their coursework as they did in the spring semester, provost Saul Jimenez-Sandoval said.
But Fresno State will allow students more time to drop courses without penalty, as happened in the spring, he said.
The university chose 128 courses to be on-campus because they can’t be delivered as effectively in a virtual setting. They include clinical labs, science, technology, engineering and mathematics lab courses, and select performance courses.
Fresno State is following the recommendations of health officials when it comes to keeping students and staff safe on campus: Facilities will have a rigorous cleaning schedule, classrooms will be reconfigured so students and instructors can be appropriately distanced, and hand sanitizer stations will be at all building entrances.