Frequently Asked Questions
Last Updated on June 15, 2020 at 3:18 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 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. Some people without symptoms (i.e. asymptomatic) are able to spread the virus.
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.
- 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.
What are the symptoms of this infection?
Symptoms of coronavirus may include the following:
- Shortness of breath/difficulty breathing
- Chills, or repeated shaking with chills
- Muscle pain
- Sore throat
- New loss of taste or smell
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?
In an effort to slow the spread of COVID-19, Fresno State employees who are working on campus should follow the recommendation of the Fresno County Department of Public Health (FCDPH) and the order by the City of Fresno by wearing a face covering beginning Wednesday, April 15.
The FCDPH and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) 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. Trouble breathing is a more serious symptom. If you are having trouble breathing, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) recommends you seek medical attention, but call your doctor or emergency room before going in and tell them your symptoms. If available, put on 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.
- Students may contact the Student Health and Counseling Center.
- Faculty, other academic personnel and staff should contact their primary care provider.
The CDC also advises 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 are ill. There may be individuals who 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 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:
- Students can contact the Student Health and Counseling Center for a range of services.
- For faculty and staff, the Employee Assistance Program is available at 800.367.7474.
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, 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 transitioned to working remotely at the same time that virtual instruction began on March 20. Virtual instruction will continue through Summer Session.
The Henry Madden Library closed at 5 p.m. March 30 but still has many virtual services available for students and faculty. Additional library resources during virtual instruction can be found here.
In the past a few weeks, California implemented a number of new measures and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) recommended halting all large gatherings, including those of more than 10 people for organizations that serve high-risk populations.
All University events are canceled or postponed until Aug. 1 and will be reevaluated at that time.
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.
When will in-person instruction begin? Can we expect to continue virtual instruction in the fall?
We are working closely with our local and state public health officials and the California State University Chancellor’s Office to determine when we will resume in-person instruction. As announced in May, by the 2020 Planning Task Force, the planning framework assumes courses will be primarily delivered virtually for fall 2020 with limited exceptions for in-person instruction.
We are monitoring the pandemic’s evolution in our region closely, and will make a decision about the fall semester as soon as there is enough information to do so. The health and safety of our students, faculty and staff will always be our top priority.
Please read this May 27 message for current planning for fall 2020.
Will the residence halls and dining hall remain open during this period of alternative instruction?
We will continue to provide housing for any students who need to remain on campus, unless directed by the Fresno County Department of Public Health. If you are in need of housing, please call 559.278.2345, option 5.
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?
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.
I need help from a librarian or access to library services, who can I contact?
The Henry Madden Library is closed 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.
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?
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?
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.
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 there any confirmed COVID-19 cases on campus?
Three members of our campus community have confirmed cases of COVID-19. (These cases are unrelated, meaning that they are not due to community spread.) See the June 15 message to campus.
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?
To find a 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?
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 firstname.lastname@example.org.