Frequently Asked Questions

Last Updated on Oct. 26, 2020 at 4:29 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 updates.

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). The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) is reporting that being exposed to this virus poses a serious public health risk. Because this is a rapidly evolving situation, the CDC is providing 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 mainly person-to-person:

  • Between people who are in close contact with one another (within about six feet).
  • Through respiratory droplets when an infected person coughs, sneezes or talks.
  • Recent studies suggest that COVID-19 may be spread by people (i.e. asymptomatic) without symptoms.

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 at least 60% alcohol, if water is not available.
  • Avoid touching your eyes, nose, or mouth with unwashed hands.
  • Avoid close contact with people who are sick. Stay home while you are sick with flu-like symptoms.
  • Avoid close contact with others. Put six feet of distance between you and people who don't live in your household.
  • Cover your mouth/nose with a tissue or sleeve when coughing or sneezing.
  • Wear a cloth face cover when out in public. A mask may reduce transmission of COVID-19 by the wearer.
  • Clean and disinfect frequently touched surfaces daily. This includes tables, doorknobs, light switches, countertops, handles, desks, phones, keyboards, toilets, faucets and sinks.
  • Monitor your health daily and be alert for symptoms.

What are the symptoms of this infection?

Symptoms of coronavirus may include the following:

  • Fever or chills
  • Coughing
  • Shortness of breath/difficulty breathing
  • Fatigue, muscle pain
  • Headache
  • Sore throat, congestion or runny nose
  • New loss of taste or smell
  • Nausea, vomiting, diarrhea 

If you 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 facilities without calling first. Your provider will need to take special measures to protect other people in the clinic.

Should I wear a mask?

To reduce possible exposure to COVID-19 and to help prevent the spread of the virus, face masks or cloth face coverings are required to be worn in public spaces on campus and during in-person classes, consistent with the Governor’s order and updated state public-health guidelines.

The Fresno County Department of Public Health and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention are asking individuals to wear fabric face coverings that are reusable after washing, while outside their residences in public settings. It is recommended to clean the coverings with hot water and soap, and keep a few on hand so that one is always available for use.

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. In some parts of the world, mask use is customary. 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?

Common symptoms of COVID-19 include fever and cough. If you have emergency warning signs such as trouble breathing, chest pains, and bluish lips, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) recommends you seek medical attention immediately, but call your doctor or emergency room before going in and tell them your symptoms. Wear a face mask before you enter the building. Please do not show up at Student Health and Counseling Center or other health facilities without calling first. Your provider will need to take special measures to protect other people in the clinic.

If you are a student or employee attending in-person classes or working on campus during the fall semester and have been sick within the past 14 days with COVID-19 related symptoms, have tested positive for COVID-19 (with symptoms or not), OR you have been exposed to someone who has tested positive or is strongly suspected to have COVID-19, please take the following steps:

I feel anxious about coronavirus. What can I do?

We understand that community members are concerned. The progression of COVID-19 is rapid and evolving, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) is reporting that being exposed to this virus poses a serious health risk. 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.
  • Wear a face cover when out in public places.

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, in accordance with Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) guidelines. 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 transitioned to working remotely at the same time that virtual instruction began on March 20. Virtual instruction is continuing through the fall 2020 semester and is planned for spring 2021 as well. Read more about the fall 2020 plan here. More information about spring 2021 will be shared as it becomes available.

The Henry Madden Library is open with limited in-person services for students and faculty. An area of the first floor is open, providing access to the service desk and DISCOVERe Hub. The library’s virtual services are in full effect with librarians at the Virtual Desk 9 a.m to 5 p.m. Monday through Friday for phone and email consultations. The popular 24/7 librarian chat feature is also available for students and faculty with questions about research. For more information, see the Henry Madden Library's 2020 plans. 


In order to ensure the safety and welfare of the campus community and based on state and local public health guidelines, on-campus meetings and events of more than 25 persons will not be allowed during the fall 2020 semester. This also applies to off-campus events sponsored by the University.

Limited exceptions will be made for in-person meetings and events of 25 persons or less along with a justification as to why the meeting or event cannot be held virtually. The request for an exception may be submitted through this web form. Read more about events on the fall 2020 website.

Guidance for Students

What campus resources are available for students during this time of virtual instruction?

Please visit the Student Resources page for a list of student, academic, technology and library support services during this time of virtual instruction. Also remember to check your email messages. If you can’t find what you are looking for, try searching the University directory for a department or faculty and staff member.

Can we expect to continue virtual instruction in spring 2021?

On Sept. 10, 2020, the California State University Chancellor’s Office announced that instruction during the spring 2021 semester will remain mostly virtual. Read this Sept. 10 message from Fresno State President Joseph I. Castro. 

President Castro has asked Provost Saúl Jiménez-Sandoval and Vice President Debbie Adishian-Astone to reconvene the Fall 2020 Planning Task Force, now renamed the Spring 2021 Planning Task Force, to develop a plan for the spring semester, based on public-health realities and projections in our region, in consultation with the Fresno County Department of Public Health, and following local, state and federal guidelines to protect the health and well-being of the entire campus community. 

More information about the spring 2021 will be shared as it becomes available.


Are the residence halls and dining hall open?

We continue to provide housing for a limited number of students while following public-health guidelines. The University Dining Hall is open to residents only. In addition, there will be limited retail dining operations open to students, faculty and staff, not the general public.

For more information, see Student Housing

Should student assistants still report to work?

Starting April 6, student assistants who work in essential areas, who are available, and who want to work on campus, may continue to work their regular schedule at their supervisor’s discretion and based upon the operating needs of the department. Student assistants are allowed to work remotely if an exception has been granted by the applicable division vice president based on the nature of the work, and if their role is critical in supporting virtual instruction and student success services.

Please read this March 31 message for more information.

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 (We ask that only enrolled students use this resource.)

I enrolled for in-person classes, not online courses. Can I get a tuition refund for spring 2020?

California State University students (including you) will continue receiving instruction from CSU instructors. 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.

Will tuition and student fees change for fall 2020?

In accordance with CSU policy, tuition and campus mandatory fees will not be refunded in the event that instruction is delivered by alternative means (virtual) for any part of an academic year. Even as CSU campuses, such as ours, have curtailed limited aspects of their operations in response to the COVID-19 pandemic, we are providing students with academic credit for courses taken and support services such as registration, financial aid and academic advising. Further, campus mandatory fees, such as the health fee that provides students medical and counseling services, will continue, as well.

Read more details about tuition on the fall 2020 website.

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

The library’s virtual services are in full effect with librarians at the Virtual Desk 9 a.m to 5 p.m. Monday through Friday for phone and email consultations. The popular 24/7 librarian chat feature is also available for students and faculty with questions about research.

For more information, see the Henry Madden Library's 2020 plans

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 fall 2020 semester. 

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.

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 256 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 April 2 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.


Is Fresno State restricting travel for University-related business?

Per the CSU Chancellor’s Office all international and non-essential domestic travel is suspended from now through June 30, 2021. 

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.

Public Health Response and Testing

Are there any confirmed COVID-19 cases on campus?

The University is reporting the number of cases among the campus community who have tested positive, and who were on campus while they may have been infected on the COVID-19 Cases, Reporting and Notifications webpage every Monday. The webpage includes information about when the campus community will be notified about positive cases. 

Consistent with the local public health department and Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) protocols for infectious disease response, anyone identified as having had close contact with these individuals has been notified if they need to quarantine or self-isolate. Facilities that have been visited by the employees have been thoroughly cleaned and disinfected or temporarily closed, if appropriate.

Due to state privacy laws and federal HIPAA privacy rules, the University will not release any information involving private health care information.

Where can I get tested?

The University is offering voluntary monthly COVID-19 testing (at no cost) for faculty and staff who have been approved to be on campus during the fall 2020 semester. While the testing is voluntary, our University administration is strongly encouraging participation in order to reduce the spread of the virus. See this Sept. 15 message for dates and times.

To find a public testing location in California, visit this online map provided by the California Coronavirus Testing Task Force and enter your city, county name or zip code.

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