Fresno State announces plans for fall semester, numerous changes in store

Education

FRESNO, Calif. (KSEE/KGPE) — University officials on Friday unveiled plans for a combination of in-person and virtual learning for the fall 2020 semester at Fresno State, as well as other measures that will guide fall instruction and campus life.

Fresno State’s plans are based on a directive announced in May from the California State University system.

The plan, which was approved by the CSU Chancellor’s Office, allows for a limited daily campus population of about 2,200 students, faculty and staff during the fall semester.

Out of that number, the university said about 1,340 students will be enrolled in 128-on-campus courses. This compares to the 4,168 on-campus courses offered in fall 2019 for 24,139 students.

Most classes will be held virtually, consistent with the CSU system’s mandate. However, officials identified 128 courses as essential, meaning they cannot be delivered virtually in an effective way. This includes clinical labs, science, technology, engineering and mathematics lab courses and select performance courses.

More than 700 faculty will participate in training to enhance virtual teaching and learning for the fall semester.

For the students, faculty and staff that do return to campus, they can expect numerous changes.

Fresno State will offer optional baseline COVID-19 testing and is “highly encouraged” to all students, faculty and staff who return to campus in the fall. Daily health screenings and temperature checks will also be conducted.

Face masks will be required to be worn in public spaces on campus and during in-person classes, consistent with Gov. Gavin Newsom’s order and updated state public health guidelines.

The university said classroom space will be reduced by 70 to 80% for social distancing. This includes spacing desks at least six feet apart in classrooms and seats will be removed or taped off in lecture halls. Classrooms will be cleaned after each session

The virus’ impact will go beyond the classroom in the fall semester, affecting Fresno State’s housing, dining and library.

Dorm capacity will be reduced by 42% as rooms will become single occupancy for an estimated 560 students. Priority will be given to students who are part of the Renaissance Scholars Program, the Educational Opportunity Program and those who are housing insecure. All public-health guidelines will be followed, including the wearing of face masks.

The university’s dining hall will reopen for residents only. Limited retail dining operations will be offered to Fresno State students, faculty and staff only — not the general public.

The Henry Madden Library’s first floor will be open for students on campus for in-person class for access to the service desk and controlled study area. The library won’t be open for studying to students not taking in-person classes, but services, such as book lending, will continue by appointment for the general student population.

Fresno State said it is prepared to provide laptops, tablets and hotspots to incoming freshmen and transfer students who need access to technology for remote learning. Returning students will continue to have access to any equipment issued to them during the spring 2020 semester.

All in-person university events are canceled or postponed until at least Aug. 1 and will be reevaluated at that time.

“This plan upholds our ability to provide high-quality educational experiences and steady academic progression for our talented students while also mitigating the risk of infection among our campus community members and their families,” said President Joseph Castro. “We very much look forward to another strong academic year, as we continue to boldly educate and empower our students for success.” 

The university’s plan for the fall 2020 semester created by a 19-member task force of students, faculty, staff and administrators in consultation with the county Department of Public Health and follows local, state and federal guidelines.

As for athletics, the final plan for fall 2020 sports practices and competitions is pending further guidance from Newsom’s office, state health officials, CSU Chancellor’s Office and the Mountain West Conference.

Fresno State said it expects a decision later this summer.

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