Updated 4:51 p.m. Wednesday, March 18, 2020


UPDATE (3/18):

City of Fresno Shelter-in-Place Order

FPU is honoring the shelter-in-place mandate issued by the City of Fresno extending from 12:01 a.m. Thursday, March 19, through Tuesday, March 31, 2020. (Though the final date may be extended.) The university will follow this mandate for all its campuses. The offices at the main FPU campus and all regional campuses will be physically closed, but all service areas will remain operational for as long as the mandate is in effect. Most staff will work remotely, with a minimal number on campus. Students and others can contact the offices via telephone, email or the website. For students living on the main campus, residence halls and the dining hall remain open and operational.


I write to share important information about new steps we are taking to meet the challenge of COVID-19 for both FPU employees and student employees. In the current climate, the health and well-being of our entire community—including each of you—is at the forefront of our thinking.

Protecting health
To ensure the safety of our full community, FPU and Fresno Pacific Biblical Seminary are moving quickly to promote and enable social distancing. So far, we have drawn down the number of people on campus by curtailing large events and moving all in-person and on-campus classes online. 
These decisions were designed to make FPU safer for everyone—and we continue to develop important new steps. The goal is to protect the health, safety and well-being of our community while allowing core operations to continue as best we can.

There will be a remote work form available to your supervisor to provide to you if it’s determined by your supervisor that remote work is possible and recommended. If you fall into one of the following categories, if you haven’t already, reach out today and talk to your supervisor:

  • Those who are 65 or older are to communicate with their supervisor (Here is a resource from the California Department of Public Health on self-isolation for older adults and those who have elevated risk:   cdph.ca.gov/Programs/CID/DCDC/CDPH%20Document%20Library/Self_Isolation_Guidance_03.16.20.pdf)
  • Those who have health concerns regarding preexisting conditions are to communicate with their supervisor
  • Those with issues related to childcare are to communicate with their supervisor
  • Should the university move to a shelter in place, non-essential employees, as determined by their supervisor, will be directed to work from home 

If you have specific questions on any of the above, please talk with your supervisor.
Of course, any employee who is sick should stay home. All of these policies are intended to keep sick or potentially sick people away from campus, so that it will remain safer for those who must continue to report to campus for their jobs.

Faculty, the Center for Online Learning has prepared resources and trainings to assist faculty with transitioning to remote teaching. The teaching continuity guide website will be updated regularly with trainings and resources. See the link that was sent out on Friday.
For employees whose work cannot be done remotely, we encourage implementation of social distancing and other best practices; development of individualized workplans that minimize close contact by limiting time on campus to what is necessary; conducting meetings virtually; or implementing other creative strategies to reduce the density of employees on campus. We should all be especially attentive to employees who may be at a higher risk for COVID-19 including those who are 65 years and older or having pre-existing health conditions.

Rescheduling May commencement activities

Regarding events, we are further modifying our guidance as of last week, as recommended by public health experts: Going forward, all events and meetings with more than 10 attendees should be canceled, postponed or conducted in virtual form.  

This means it is with a heavy heart I let you know our spring commencement ceremony, scheduled for Saturday, May 9, 2020, will be postponed. Some of you anticipated this postponement. Please know this decision was made after much deliberation, relying on expert advice from public health agencies and with our peers at other institutions of higher learning.

This includes not only the spring commencement ceremony at Selland Arena but associated on-campus celebrations including the Graduate Hooding Ceremony, Seminary Gala, Multicultural Celebration, Graduate Research Symposium and other related activities. Those scheduled to graduate in May 2020 may still have their degree posted later in May (as per typical timeline) so long as candidates have fulfilled all degree requirements and applied for graduation.

We realize commencement is a significant event in the lives of our students and their families and are committed to ensuring there are future opportunities to celebrate your hard work and success. More specific information regarding commencement and associated celebrations will be forthcoming as we consider future options.

Given the facts we have right now, Fresno Pacific intends to remain open, even with fewer of us on campus. This business continuity means that your pay and benefits will continue uninterrupted. The fitness center on the main campus, however, is closed, and Shehadey Dining Hall is open only to the FPU community and first responders.
We know many of you are directly involved in addressing this great challenge for our community, whether you are helping students cope with the logistics and anxiety, dealing with health questions from individuals or striving to put a class online for the first time. As always, for the latest information regarding FPU and COVID-19, go to fresno.edu/coronavirus.

We are incredibly grateful for the dedication, high standards and caring of everyone who works at FPU. We are committed to doing everything we can to help keep you safe. Thank you for all the ways in which you look after your Fresno Pacific Community—and each other.

Joseph Jones, Ph.D.


UPDATE (3/16): 

As Fresno Pacific University progresses together through the fluid COVID-19 situation, first let us remember that Christ is our foundation, and God’s house is built upon a rock. Our first goal is to continue to pull together as a community to do the work of the university and serve our students while balancing the needs of our employees.

The President’s Cabinet will receive reports from department heads starting March 15 on total staffing needs and related issues such as working from home and care for children and those 65 and over, and will work on a policy at its meeting on Tuesday, March 16. For those working on a campus, there are options for self-distancing by moving to spaces not presently being used. There may also be possibilities for staff members who find themselves under-used in their department to help out in another department with needs.

Fresno Pacific will also follow the recommendation from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) to cancel or postpone all events which include an attendance of 50 people or more planned over the next eight weeks, through May 14. This will include our spring commencement ceremonies and celebrations. We know commencement is a significant event in the lives of our students and their families and we are committed to ensuring there is a future opportunity to celebrate all their hard work and success. More specific information regarding a rescheduled date for the spring commencement and associated ceremonies, will be forthcoming as details are worked out.


Members of the Fresno Pacific University community:

In light of the continuing global spread of Coronavirus (COVID-19), Fresno Pacific University has established a plan to safeguard our community while fulfilling our commitment to provide education to our 4,100 students throughout the Central Valley.

The university is temporarily suspending all in-person, on-campus classes from Monday, March 16, through Saturday, March 21. During that week we will equip faculty to conduct all classes online through April 12, after which time we will assess the situation and review the plan to see how best to complete the semester. This will apply to students in the traditional undergraduate, bachelor’s degree completion, graduate and seminary programs at all our campuses.

Many classes and even programs are already online, or have an online component, so the foundation for this action is well-laid. The university will provide assistance to faculty during this week and beyond and we are confident the changeover will be successful.

We also recognize that not all students have the resources to be fully functional in an online environment. Those students are encouraged to contact their faculty members to see what accommodation can be made.

See Frequently Asked Questions.

What Students Need to Know

Starting Monday, March 23, all classes will be fully online. Faculty will be contacting you next week with instructions, either through email or your Moodle course shell.

Students who live on campus are welcome to stay, or return home if they would prefer and are able. Residence hall and dining facilities remain open, and service offices—including, but not limited to, the Student Financial Services Office, the Academic Success Center, computer labs, Hiebert Library and the Health Center—are open for their normal business hours.

Many students are involved in clinicals, internships and placements. The decisions on whether those continue or any changes in procedure will be made by the sponsoring organization. Please contact that organization for guidance.

Here are resources for students with disabilities:

  • If you need help with accessibility of online course material, contact Center for Online Learning at
  • If you need extended time on online quizzes and exams, contact Melinda Gunning at 559-453-2247

Additional Information:

What Faculty Need to Know

Provost Gayle Copeland, the academic deans and the Center for Online Learning are already working to provide the resources you need to move your instruction online. More information will be forthcoming soon. We have this week to prepare, engage and support one another to continue to serve our students during this difficult time.

What All Employees Need to Know

Administrative offices will be open and staffed. However, any regular or student employee who feels ill is highly encouraged to stay home. Please contact your supervisor if you have any questions or concerns. At work, please remember that Coronavirus is a respiratory-tract illness—similar to colds and flu—and follow preventative practices on handwashing, social distancing and limiting contact with others.

FPU and COVID-19

Through our Emergency Management Team—made up of representatives from across the university—Fresno Pacific has been monitoring the COVID-19 situation and providing health updates and resources since February 27. We have also been in regular contact with the Fresno County Department of Public Health. While there are, as of Friday morning, March 13, three cases of diagnosed COVID-19—one each in Fresno, Madera and Tulare counties—in the area served by our campuses, the departments of health in both Fresno and Madera counties still refer to this as a “low-risk” and point out there is no “community spread” of the virus.

It was this rising tide of legitimate concern in the area and our desire to act with an abundance of caution that brought us to taking these steps. We will continue to carefully monitor this ever-changing situation and remain in contact with health experts and our peers at other area institutions of higher learning.

For the most up-to-date information from FPU on the COVID-19 situation, please visit fresno.edu/coronavirus. This webpage will be updated regularly.

Sunbird Athletics

The FPU Department of Athletics has been informed by the PacWest Conference that all athletic contests are suspended until at least March 30. UPDATE (3/13): Effective immediately all practices, workouts and team activities are canceled through March 22 and will be reassessed after that date. Facilities will remain open on campus for students to use at their regularly scheduled hours. If practices and workouts do eventually resume they will be voluntary and student-athletes will be able to opt out of any team activity with no penalty to their status on the team or their athletic scholarship.


All events between March 16 and April 12 where 50 people or more are expected are to be rescheduled or cancelled. This includes the main campus and all regional campuses as well as FPU-sponsored events at offsite locations. We will review the situation again starting April 13 and see how to best move forward. We sincerely hope we will be able to host commencement ceremonies as scheduled in May, but we will make a final decision based on the best information available at the time.

Thanks and Prayers

I thank all of you dedicated, talented professionals for your energy and willingness to adapt and continue to serve the mission of Fresno Pacific University to “develop students for leadership and service through excellence in Christian higher education.” Administrators, faculty and staff have already pulled together and will continue to do so as we navigate the changes to come.

There are challenges ahead for the FPU community, but I am confident we are proceeding wisely and we will always, of course, look to our merciful God for guidance. I am reminded of the wisdom and comfort of Deuteronomy 31:8: “He will never leave you nor forsake you. Do not be afraid; do not be discouraged.”

May God grant us peace and wisdom.


Joseph Jones, Ph.D.

Reminder: For the most up-to-date information from FPU on the COVID-19 situation, check here, at fresno.edu/coronavirus.


Wayne Steffen
Associate Director of Publications and Media Relations