Members of the Fresno Pacific University Community,

Over the last few months, you have received numerous communications about our care for students, faculty and staff during the COVID-19 crisis. The difficulty of this pandemic has been compounded by recent events that have raised awareness of the systemic racism that has always existed in this nation, amplifying the shame and anger so many ignored for years. As a Christ-centered community we must ask the question: where have we failed to be a light in this matter? We can sit on commissions, which we are; plan and participate in seminars and webinars, as we have; and meet with policy makers, as we are doing; but we also need to evaluate what these killings and all that has followed can teach us about how we live and learn together in this university community. We remember the command of our Lord Jesus: to love (serve) others as he has loved (served) us. It is by our love for one another that others will recognize that we are his disciples.

To our new and returning students, faculty and staff: we commit ourselves to your safety and care during this very complex period. We are returning to a mostly face-to-face curriculum, with exceptions as needed to protect the health of the vulnerable among us. In all we do, we continue to be alert to changing circumstances and follow the counsel of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, the Association of Independent California Colleges and Universities, the State of California, the Fresno County Department of Public Health and the extensive work of our Emergency Management Team and President’s Cabinet.

We will add additional measures if that becomes necessary. Likewise, we will also ease or relax some protocols over time if we feel we can do so safely. Student, faculty and staff safety continues to be our highest priority. I encourage you to keep abreast of the latest development on the FPU website at fresno.edu/coronavirus-covid-19-news-and-information

Updates for Everyone

  • All students, faculty and staff will be required to wear face coverings in class and all public spaces on campus. (Special masks have been ordered for faculty who have students with hearing impairments.) Hand sanitizer will be available.
  • Plexiglass shields will be installed in classrooms as well as at tables in the dining hall, service windows and restrooms. Furniture has been rearranged to allow for social distancing and should not be moved. Signs and stickers will mark six-foot social distancing intervals where lines form.
  • Areas will be sanitized regularly and faculty and staff will be asked to sanitize their work stations. Cleaning materials will be provided by the university.
  • People entering all campuses will be required to answer a short health survey. Students, faculty and staff may use the form on the My FPU App. Anyone feeling ill for any reason is asked to stay home.
  • Protocols are being put into place to interview community members who disclose symptoms or test results.
  • Some departments have already begun returning, and supervisors will work with employees directly on schedules and other issues.
  • The Human Resources Office is working to accommodate requests for faculty and staff, such as those in “high-risk” categories, to teach and work using distance methods.

Faculty and Students

  • Classrooms will be used at 65% capacity for social distancing.
  • Classrooms will be cleaned between sessions by fumigation/fogging devices equipped to sanitize a classroom within one-two minutes using Steramine, a product tested, accepted and registered by the EPA as being effective in killing infectious bacteria and viruses.
  • Classrooms will be equipped for synchronous live streaming with cameras, microphones and recording capability.
  • Blended and online instruction will be available, and previously scheduled online courses will continue.
  • Specialized courses such as labs and performance classes will not be available to students who are not able to attend face-to-face for the fall semester.
  • The semester timeline has been altered:
    • The traditional undergraduate, graduate and seminary schedule begins August 24.
    • In person/blended instruction will end November 25, the day before Thanksgiving, and instruction for the last two weeks will be by distance. Instructors will have discretion as to how to manage teaching and final exams/projects. Fully online class schedules will not change.
    • For bachelor’s degree completion students, Session 2 begins August 17 and Session 4 will run as onsite/blended instruction through December 27 as normally scheduled.
       
  • As of June 26, 85% of classroom assignments have been made, but could be modified as enrollment changes, courses are moved online and/or additional sections are added to maintain appropriate safe capacity levels. Course schedule plans and the physical assessment of all classes will be reviewed August 3 and August 17. 
  • For regional campuses: The EMT and operations teams have evaluated all common spaces, and sneeze guards have been installed at front desks and some furniture will be moved or removed from each lobby, classroom and open study area to maintain social distancing. Employees and students will undergo health screening.

Campus Life

  • Residential and commuter students will need to complete a daily health check to have access to campus facilities. Just as with faculty and staff, this will be accomplished through a brief screening survey on the My FPU App. Commuter students who do not pass will be encouraged to go home, while residential students will need to return to their rooms and contact our campus nurse to discuss testing.
  • Family members and friends may not visit students on campus for the fall semester.
  • Gathering sizes will be closely monitored. Events such as the Fall Formal Dance, intramural and residence life activities will be postponed until they can happen safely. We are waiting on information of the Pacific West Conference and the NCAA Division II on whether Sunbird athletics will take place and if fans will be allowed to attend. For updates, check fpuathletics.com/
  • Residence halls will be primarily single-occupancy housing, with one fourth of rooms large enough to be double occupancy. On-campus housing capacity will be limited to 316 students, with first-year students given highest priority.
  • Resident students are allowed only in their assigned living area, campus outdoor spaces or academic or administrative buildings. Visits to other housing units are prohibited, along with overnight guests or outside visitors. Students must wear masks and maintain social distancing when outside their respective living environment.
  • Move-in by residential students will be through appointments with the Office of Residence Life and no more than two family members or guests may help with the move.
  • Commuter students will be held to the same safety standards as residential students, and many of their normal “hang-out” spots having limited seating.
  • Shehadey Dining Hall is open only to students on meal plans—faculty and staff may purchase meals from Charlotte’s. Pioneer staff will serve food at each station in the dining hall. Larger tables will be divided into four sections by plexiglass shields, while smaller tables will be or individuals only. Diners will wear masks at all times except when they are eating or drinking. Student with meal plans who are ill may have food delivered.
  • The Sunbird Pantry will also be open this fall for all students that need access to food.
  • The risk of acquiring COVID-19 on campus is very low, but about 5% of our bed spaces are being designated as quarantine spaces if a student needs to isolate and cannot do so at home. Food will be delivered to these rooms and students will be checked on daily by health services.
  • All students are encouraged to get flu shots and register with Virtual Health Care, FPU’s online 24-hour telehealth provider. On-Site, our mental health care provider, is also available by appointment. Of course, you can always look to a trusted campus leader, your advisor or a professor, coach or residence life staff member for guidance.
  • While it is unlikely we will gather in person for Chapel, the Office of Spiritual Formation will move offerings online, and we hope to create in-person small groups. Chirp, our roundtable discussion series, will continue, along with spaces to connect and engage on social media.
  • ALAS and the Intercultural Learning Center will continue to provide services to our students. To allow for social distancing, we will convert the Steinert Campus Center into an intercultural learning center overflow space.

Looking Forward to Fall

Our campuses have felt empty since in-person instruction ended in March and we look forward to meeting face-to-face again this fall as much as is safely possible. I call on each of us to make the sacrifices and adapt to the new conditions that will keep us all safe. While we cannot guarantee a COVID-free environment, we can reduce the risk.

I thank all administrators, faculty and staff for your commitment to the university and meeting the needs of our students. We are excited to begin returning to campus and prepare for next semester. To ensure each of us has the knowledge we need, faculty and staff are asked to please review and acknowledge the protocols and policies at etcentral.fresno.edu/#/form/86. As we continue to prepare for a safe fall semester, I encourage you to keep abreast of the latest development on the FPU website at fresno.edu/coronavirus-covid-19-news-and-information

As a Christ-centered community, we are committed to the way of all his disciples. As we start a new academic year, we must ask ourselves how we affirm and live out the values we so often share as the core of our existence. We must be intentional in modeling service in our study and work. We can only prepare students for leadership and service when we lead and serve.

Blessings on all of you,

Joseph Jones, Ph.D.
President, Fresno Pacific University

 

Author

Wayne Steffen
Associate Director of Publications and Media Relations

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