Frequently Asked Questions

Last Updated on April 1, 2020 at 3:42 PM

This FAQ — which will be updated on an ongoing basis — is intended to provide information about COVID-19; preventive measures for avoiding infection; how Fresno State is responding to the current COVID-19 situation; and other critical information to keep students, faculty, and staff safe and healthy.

Information from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, and state and local public health officials, and other well-known domestic and global health organizations informs this FAQ.

In addition, the campus community should also read emails sent by University administrators on topics related to COVID-19, which provide more detailed update.

Health, wellness and prevention

What is coronavirus?

Coronaviruses are a large family of viruses, some causing respiratory illness in people and others circulating among animals. Rarely, animal coronaviruses can evolve and infect people and then spread between people. Previous coronavirus outbreaks have included severe acute respiratory syndrome (SARS) and Middle East Respiratory Syndrome (MERS). While the progression of COVID-19 is still emerging, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) is reporting that the immediate health risk of being exposed to this virus is still low for most Americans, but as the outbreak expands, that risk will increase. Because this is an emerging, rapidly evolving situation, the CDC will provide updated information as it becomes available, including any changes in the risk assessment.

How does it spread?

Although we have a lot to learn about this virus, it is currently believed that it spreads like other respiratory viruses — by people with the infection coughing and sneezing. These droplets are inhaled by other people or moved to the eyes, nose or mouth by contaminated hands.

How do I help prevent the spread of viruses?

You may be able to reduce the risk of spreading coronaviruses by taking the same steps as you would to prevent infection from the flu and the common cold:

  • Wash hands often, for 20 seconds each time, with soap and water. Use hand sanitizer containing 60%–95% alcohol, if water is not available.
  • Avoid touching your eyes, nose, or mouth with unwashed hands.
  • Avoid contact with people who are sick.
  • Stay home while you are sick with flu-like symptoms and avoid close contact with others.
  • Cover your mouth/nose with a tissue or sleeve when coughing or sneezing.

What are the symptoms of this infection?

Symptoms of coronavirus may include the following:

  • Fever
  • Coughing
  • Shortness of breath/difficulty breathing

If you have returned in the past 14 days from travel abroad and are experiencing fever and respiratory symptoms (such as fever with coughing or difficulty breathing/shortness of breath), the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention advises you to seek medical advice by calling ahead of your visit to your health care provider or nurse advice line. Please do not show up at Student Health and Counseling Center or other health facility without calling first. Your provider will need to take special measures to protect other people in the clinic.

Should I wear a mask?

Local and state public health agencies currently do not recommend that people wear masks when they are in public. This is because the immediate health risk to the general public in the U.S. is currently low. Additionally, scientists are not sure whether wearing a mask in public actually keeps healthy people from getting sick. It’s most important for people who are sick to wear a mask in a health care setting (such as a waiting room) to avoid exposing other people when they cough or sneeze.

In some parts of the world, mask use is customary. People wear masks often for a variety of reasons, including to avoid pollen and air pollution, as a courtesy to others when they have the common cold, and for other cultural and even social reasons.

Public health officials recommend staying home and away from others if you are sick. However, keep in mind that if we see our friends, neighbors or other community members wearing a mask we should not assume that they have been exposed to coronavirus or any other illness (coronavirus is not currently present in our community). Because mask use is customary in some cultures, it’s not appropriate to make assumptions about why someone is wearing a mask or to stigmatize or discriminate against people who choose to wear masks.

What do I do if I feel sick?

If you have returned in the past 14 days from travel abroad AND are experiencing fever and respiratory symptoms (such as fever with coughing or difficulty breathing/shortness of breath), the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) advises you to seek medical advice by calling ahead of your visit to your health care provider or nurse advice line. Please do not show up at Student Health and Counseling Center or other health facility without calling first. Your provider will need to take special measures to protect other people in the clinic.

The CDC Travel Alerts also advise you to:

  • Avoid contact with others and do not travel while sick.
  • Cover your mouth and nose with a tissue or your sleeve (not your hands) when coughing or sneezing.
  • Clean your hands by washing them with soap and water for at least 20 seconds or using an alcohol-based hand sanitizer that contains 60%–95% alcohol immediately after coughing, sneezing or blowing your nose.

Monitor your symptoms closely. Remember, the likelihood that you have coronavirus is low. Take your temperature if you believe you have a fever.

Stay home from school and work until at least 24 hours after your fever ends. Be especially careful around infants and small children as well as people who have compromised immune systems and/or are over the age of 65.

We are asking for flexibility among professors and managers when students or employees determine that they need to stay home. There may be individuals who are asked to self-isolate at home and who may have to miss up to two weeks of class or work. Individuals who become ill but do not need medical intervention may not have a doctor’s note or medical documentation for their absence. It is critical that individuals not be expected to obtain a written excuse from a medical provider for their absence.

Take care of yourself. Rest as much as possible. Drink lots of fluids.

I feel anxious about coronavirus. What can I do?

We understand that some community members are concerned. While the progression of COVID-19 is still emerging, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) is reporting that the immediate health risk of being exposed to this virus is still low for most Americans, but as the outbreak expands, that risk will increase. If you would like to talk with someone, support is available:

You can help prevent the spread of colds and other viral ailments by doing the following:

  • Cover your mouth and nose with your elbow or a tissue when you cough or sneeze, and immediately dispose of the tissue.
  • Wash your hands often and avoid touching your eyes, nose or mouth.
  • Clean and disinfect surfaces that are frequently touched.

How should I clean and disinfect communal spaces?

As is recommended practice during flu season, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) recommends cleaning and disinfecting frequently touched surfaces (e.g., door knobs, tables, keyboards, light switches) with a disinfectant. Please avoid putting disinfectant gels or liquids on electronics and other equipment, including elevator buttons, unless they have been indicated as safe to use on those devices.

How does the campus clean and disinfect?

The University's custodial staff have implemented a cleaning protocol, including the use of disinfectants, and we have added staff dedicated to disinfecting frequently touched objects and surfaces. The Student Health Center also adheres to a high standard of infection control and prevention. Counters and waiting areas are cleaned and disinfected multiple times a day.

Is the campus open and are events still scheduled?

In an effort to limit the spread of COVID-19, and under the direction of the CSU Office of the Chancellor, most campus offices that are not essential to direct student support will transition to working remotely, while virtual instruction continues.

Beginning Friday, March 20, use of the Henry Madden Library will be limited to essential services including the DISCOVERe Hub and other library resources (including the Center of Faculty Excellence) that are focused on supporting delivery of virtual instruction. Studying, researching and other usual activities will no longer be permitted in the library, including by community patrons, due to social distancing requirements. Additional library resources during virtual instruction can be found here.

In the past couple of days, California implemented a number of new measures and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) recommended halting all gatherings larger than 50 people for the next eight weeks. All University events are canceled or postponed at this time.

Guidance for Students

I am currently enrolled in an online class. Will that class be canceled during the March 16 - 19 temporary suspension of classes?

No. Current online classes that have been online since the beginning of the semester will continue as normal with no interruptions.

Will labs remain open?

Starting Friday, March 20, all laboratory classes and courses in areas such as performing arts, arts and kinesiology will transition to virtual instruction.

What if I don’t have access to a computer or Wi-Fi from home?

The University has purchased 1,350 mobile hotspots to loan to students who do not have access to high-speed internet for virtual instruction.

In addition, 1,000 additional iPads will be available to loan to students who indicated a need, based upon a recent survey conducted by the University.

Students can get virtual support via Zoom by clicking on the following link during normal business hours: https://t.co/1Au4JpD9NM. Students who have questions may contact the DISCOVERe Hub via email at DISCOVERe@mail.fresnostate.edu.

Will the residence halls and dining hall remain open during this period of alternative instruction?

We will continue to provide housing and meals for our students that need to remain on campus through the end of the spring semester, unless directed by the Fresno County Department of Public Health.

We encourage those who can return home to do so. For those who decide to move out now, Fresno State Housing will refund a prorated amount of your remaining room and board plans based upon your official check-out date.

We are here to help: housing@csufresno.edu.

Should student assistants still report to work?

Student assistants will not be required to work on campus effective Friday, March 20, but will be paid the hours they would have otherwise worked through April 5. Contact your supervisor for any specific questions.

Who can I speak to about issues that are not academic-related, for example financial aid, parking fees and more?

Students with questions that are not academic-related can email a dedicated email address in the Office of the Dean of Students at sadiv@csufresno.edu. (We ask that only enrolled students use this resource.)

I am a senior and registered for graduation. Will I still graduate?

Students who have registered to graduate at the end of the spring semester will be able to complete the semester and graduate, subject to the completion of requirements.

Will commencement be canceled?

Unfortunately, we will not be conducting commencement ceremonies in May. This decision, informed by guidance from public health officials, was not made lightly. We will continue to explore how and when to celebrate Commencement 2020, depending on the quickly changing situation.

Will I get a refund on parking fees?

In accordance with campus policy, you are able to be refunded 50% of the $93 semester fee. That works out to $46.50. Motorcycle permits will also be refunded at 50% of the $17 semester fee.

To request a parking refund, email transportation@csufresno.edu and include your first and last name, student ID number and parking permit number for spring, annual or motorcycle permit by 5 p.m. Wednesday, March 25 to qualify for a refund. Please check your email or this letter for more information and instructions for processing your refund.

Since there is no commencement celebration this year, will I get my graduation fees back?

The undergraduate graduation fee covers administrative costs of graduation evaluation and commencement ceremonies. Since the commencement ceremony has been canceled, the University will refund the commencement portion of the $51.50 fee. That works out to $34.50 for any undergraduate who applied to graduate. We are waiving the refund processing fee.

If you registered and paid for affinity ceremonies, such as the Chicano Latino Graduation Ceremony, contact the office or person with whom you registered.

Please check your email or this letter for more details and instructions for processing your refund.

I enrolled for in-person classes, not online courses. Can I get a tuition refund?

California State University students (including you) will continue receiving instruction from CSU instructors, and the grades you will receive will ultimately lead to a CSU diploma. We will continue to charge tuition and mandatory system and campus-based fees for all enrolled students. Tuition is the same for both traditional online and in-person CSU courses during the regular school year.

I need help from a librarian or access to library services, who can I contact?

As of 5 p.m. March 30, the Henry Madden Library will close temporarily through the end of the semester. Please see the Henry Madden Library’s COVID-19 continuity resources page for a full list of virtual services available to students and faculty to support the delivery of virtual instruction. These services include phone inquiries and consultation, email, Zoom consultation and instruction and 24/7 chat.

Guidance for Faculty and Staff

Do staff have to report to work on campus?

Campus offices that are essential will continue to remain open with limited on-campus personnel throughout the semester. Approximately 10% of employees remain working on campus at this time.

Employees whose job duties can be performed remotely should submit a request to telecommute. For more guidance, please see email from the Human Resources Department, dated March 15, 2020.

For those who cannot work remotely beginning Friday, March 20, please contact your supervisor.

More information will be coming from University Human Resources

How might employees be affected if the CSU Chancellor's Office or the Fresno County Department of Public Health requires that the campus be closed in the event of several confirmed cases in the county?

At this time, campus offices that are not essential to direct student support will transition to working remotely. If the campus is required to close, essential personnel will be offered alternatives such as telecommuting and/or paid leave depending upon the duration of the closure and guidance from the Chancellor's Office. We will post related information here and/or in emails to employees, so please check back frequently.

I am a Fresno State employee, what if I become ill or need to stay home to care for a family member who is sick?

For any absence due to illness, use sick time as you normally would. In the event you run out of sick time, you can request to use vacation time. The policy to request vacation when sick leave has been exhausted can be found here.

Employees who are sick with flu-like symptoms do not need to validate their illness with a health care provider note.

If you need to stay home to care for a family member who is sick, you may use sick time through normal sick leave and Family Medical Leave (FML) procedures. Please refer to this campus communication from Human Resources for more information and request forms.

The California State University has granted use of temporary paid administrative leave up to 128 hours effective March 23 through December 31, 2020, for CSU (state) employees who are unable to work due to COVID-19-related reasons. Please refer to the March 22 campus communication from Human Resources for more information.

Can I telecommute for COVID-19 reasons or because of recent decisions by local school districts to close?

Please consult with your manager and vice president/cabinet member regarding telecommuting options.

Depending upon your position and based upon your department’s operational needs, you may request to telecommute for COVID-19 reasons, if you or a family member needs to self-isolate, and if you are at higher risk for serious illness from COVID-19 because of your age or health condition, and your health care provider recommends an alternate work schedule.

Please refer to this campus communication from Human Resources for more information and request forms.

Who can faculty contact with questions about students, virtual instruction or other issues?

Please read this FAQ developed and managed by the Office of Faculty Affairs.

Travel

Is Fresno State restricting travel for University-related business?

Per the CSU Chancellor’s Office, effective immediately, all international and non-essential domestic travel is suspended from now through May 31. Future travel, including summer and fall, will be determined as the COVID-19 situation evolves.

Previously, all University travel to China, Italy and South Korea was suspended, and anyone on University-related travel in those countries was asked to return home.

While this travel restriction does not apply to personal travel, the University discourages all international and non-essential domestic travel at this time, both University-related and personal.

What is the University doing regarding campus community members returning home from international travel?

The University has screening protocol for students arriving from international travel. The protocol involves maintaining a list of students studying abroad each semester, and informing students before they depart internationally that they will be expected to contact the health center upon return to the United States. In addition, screening of international students on campus is conducted as part of international student orientation.

Employees returning from trips abroad, especially those who traveled to areas considered to be Level 3 Travel Health Warnings from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, should monitor themselves for flu-like symptoms for 14 days and self-isolate if they do exhibit those symptoms. This means avoiding close contact (six feet or nearer) with other people, including family members. They should also contact their own health care provider or the Fresno County Department of Public Health (559.600.3200), giving details of recent travel and symptoms.

Public Health Response and Testing

Are any campus community members being screened for coronavirus (COVID-19)?

At this time, the University does not have a confirmed case of COVID-19. Per our communicable disease protocols, in the event of a confirmed case that directly impacts the campus, the Fresno County Department of Public Health would officially notify the University and, in turn, we would notify the campus community.

We encourage everyone to check reliable sources of University-related information at coronavirus website and emails from campus administrators.

In the event of a confirmed case, due to federal HIPAA privacy rules, the University would not release any information involving specific student records or private health care information, but our safety and cleaning protocols would be activated immediately in order to mitigate further exposure within our campus community.

Are there resources for fighting stigmatization, bias and xenophobia related to the virus?

Many of us are concerned about what the people in our communities may be experiencing, including possible stigmatization or discrimination based on racial bias or appearances. Please help others understand that the risk of coronavirus is not at all connected with race, ethnicity or nationality.

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention has also released an important resource entitled, “Share Facts, Not Fear.” During this situation, it’s vital that we live our values of diversity and inclusive excellence. We value all members of our community and stand united against bias and stereotyping.

If you believe you have been discriminated against or harassed based on race, color, religion, ancestry, national origin, gender, gender identity including transgender, sexual orientation, marital status, pregnancy, age, disability or veteran status, please contact campus Discrimination, Harassment and Retaliation Administrator Marylou Mendoza-Miller at 559.278.2032 or maryloum@csufresno.edu.