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Back to school? Fresno State announces plans for Fall semester

Fresno State announced Friday its plans for the upcoming fall semester as the California State University system prepares to operate in a mostly virtual setting, limiting the number of students physically allowed on campus for classes due to the coronavirus pandemic. 

According to the announcement, Fresno State will allow about 1,340 students to be enrolled in 128 on-campus courses. The CSU Chancellor’s Office is allowing for around 2,200 students, faculty and staff during the upcoming semester. 

“The university has identified 128 courses as essential, meaning they cannot be delivered virtually in the most effective way,” Fresno State said in a statement. “These courses include clinical labs, science, technology, engineering and mathematics (STEM) lab courses and select performance courses.” 

To compare to previous years, Fresno State had 24,139 students attending 4,168 on-campus courses in the fall 2019. 

“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 University President Dr. Joseph Castro in a statement. “We very much look forward to another strong academic year, as we continue to boldly educate and empower our students for success.” 

COVID-19 testing will be offered on an optional basis and highly encouraged for all students, faculty and staff who return to campus. The university will also perform daily health screenings and temperature checks. 

Fresno State will require everyone to wear a face mask in public spaces on campus and during in-person classes. 

In classrooms, seating and desks will be spaced at least six feet apart, lecture hall seats will either be removed or taped off and the typical classroom capacity will be reduced by about 70% to 80%. The university will also clean each classroom after every course section. 

The estimated 560 students who will live in university housing will each be assigned a separate room. Students in the Renaissance Scholars Program, the Educational Opportunity Program and those who are housing insecure will be given priority. 

The Henry Madden Library will be open for students who are on campus for in-person classes, although other students will be able to take advantage of services such as book lending by appointment.

Faculty and staff who need to support in-person instruction will return to campus on Aug. 15, and the first day of instruction is Aug. 19. 

Now that the academic side of the university has been sorted out, the next step for Fresno State will be to make a decision on fall athletics. 

“The final plan for fall 2020 sports practices and competitions is pending further guidance from the Governor’s Office, the California Department of Public Health, the Mountain West Conference and the CSU Chancellor’s Office,” the university said. “The campus expects a decision later this summer.” 

Daniel Gligich
Daniel Gligich is a reporter for The San Joaquin Valley Sun, focusing on Fresno State Athletics and the southern San Joaquin Valley. Email him at daniel.gligich@sjvsun.com.