Fresno State has announced its plan for the fall 2020 semester

Fresno State releases an update to the fall 2020 plans. (Jorge Rodriguez/The Collegian)

Written with a contribution from Zaeem Shaikh

Fresno State President Joseph I. Castro and the university have announced how the fall 2020 semester will look on the Fresno State campus amidst the COVID-19 pandemic.

The fall plan is based on the directives from the California State University system announced in May, and states that most course delivery will be virtual, with a limited number of essential in-person courses.

Fresno State’s plan also includes safety protocols, campus employment, athletics, travels, housing and dining, as well as other detailed information. 

Following the decision, Castro, Provost and Vice President for Academic Affairs Saúl Jiménez-Sandoval and Vice President for Administration & Chief Financial Officer Debbie Adishian-Astone met with the media in a press conference to discuss the plan in further detail.

Academic Instruction

The university has identified 128 courses as essential, which means that they cannot be delivered virtually in an effective manner. These courses include clinical labs, science, technology engineering and mathematics (STEM) lab courses and select performance courses.

A list of courses available on-campus and in-person to be offered for fall 2020 is available here

In the near future, the department and colleges of each in-person course will provide further information to students enrolled in those courses.

All other courses will be conducted completely virtual and more information will be added to the student portal and add the schedule of courses with specific delivery models for the remotely offered course.

Students will still have to pay for a daily or semester parking permit if they attend on-campus classes.

For students on the Visalia campus, all courses will be offered virtually, according to Jiménez-Sandoval.

Safety Protocols

To ensure the safety of the students, staff and faculty the campus plan allows for a daily campus population of approximately 2,200 student faculty and staff, of which 1,340 will be enrolled in on-campus courses.

This campus population would be about 7.5% of the overall campus population as compared to the fall 2019 semester.

The university will provide optional baseline testing and is highly encouraged for all students, faculty and staff who will be returning to campus in the fall. 

Testing will be conducted by a local health care partner and plans are being developed to require all students, faculty and staff who will be on campus in the fall to complete ongoing daily health screenings and temperature checks as part of a collective safety effort.

According to Adishian-Astone, the university is working on a mobile app that students will use to conduct those screenings.

The testing will be conducted at the Jordan Agricultural Research Center. 

Along with voluntary testing, the university will be requiring face masks or cloth face coverings to be worn in public spaces on campus and during in-person classes. This is consistent with the Governor Gavin Newsom’s orders and the updated state public-health guidelines.

According to Castro, testing will not be mandatory, and at least “one [labor] union has expressed concern about mandatory baseline testing.”

“We’re going to inspire participation and not require participation,” Castro said. “It’s my hope that everybody who comes to campus will want to be tested because it helps them and helps everyone who’s going to be here.”

The university has been working with the Fresno County Department of Public Health, and they will conduct the contact tracing on campus if someone contracts COVID-19.

“We have also had a number of our staff both in our environmental safety and risk management area, and our Student Health Center actually recently participated in the county’s tracing for contact tracing,” Castro said. “The county will still conduct the contact tracing, but our staff will be able to be a resource and provide some of the information that they will require.”

The university also states that the facilities team has developed a rigorous cleaning and disinfection schedule for all rooms and for in-person courses, in accordance with Center for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) guidelines.

Additionally, the university will also space seating/desks at least six feet apart, and removing or taping off seats in fixed seating lecture halls, Classroom capacity has been reduced by approximately 70-80 percent to accommodate social distancing.

Campus Employment

Starting July 1, a multiphase repopulation plan will begin with the return of a limited number of staff needed to prepare for in-person instruction. This included those employees who may have exhausted their Temporary Paid Administrative Leave (CPAL).

All of the employees who can continue to work remotely will continue to do so for the foreseeable future. 

For student assistant positions, they will be limited to those functional areas required to support in-person courses. Employees with questions regarding their work location for the fall should contact their supervising manager or department chair.

Beginning Aug. 15, faculty and staff who need to support in-person instruction will return to work on campus. 

University Housing and Dining

For students who will be living on campus, rooms will be assigned as a single occupancy for a total estimated number of 560 residents. Residents must follow all public-health guidelines, including wearing of facial coverings.

The university will not be looking to have police get involved with mask compliance, but it will be up to our campus community to help each other and remember the requirements and guidelines. 

Students who applied for Fresno State housing, but prefer to defer their move-in date to spring 2021 can do so without any fee or penalties.

The university dining hall will reopen for residents only. Additionally, there will be limited retail dining options open to students, faculty and staff only, not the general public.

Two operations will be open in the University Center, The Bucket and Taco Bell, for the campus community, but will not be open for the general public. 


Although no update on whether athletics will take place in the fall, Fresno State Athletics is working on a detailed document in accordance with the NCAA, American College Health Association and CDC guidelines to ensure the safety of student-athletes if sports were to make a return in the fall.

The final plan for the 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 expects to make a decision later this summer.


The university says that the CSU Chancellor’s Office has directed all campuses and their auxiliary organizations to suspend all international and non-essential travel from now through Aug. 1. Future travel will be determined as the COVID-19 situation evolved.

Travel restriction does not apply to personal travel, but the university discourages all international and non-essential domestic travel at this time, for both university-related and personal reasons.

In the plan, the university recognizes that the pandemic is a fluid situation and will continue to review and adjust the campus plans and services, as they deem necessary. Additionally, the university has prepared for the possibility that all courses may need to transition virtually at any point in the fall semester.

As the campus repopulates, there will be updated protocols for those who will be on campus and the link to the full plan is here.

The first day of instruction is Wednesday, Aug.19.

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