Fresno State's student-run newspaper

The Collegian

Fresno State's student-run newspaper

The Collegian

Fresno State's student-run newspaper

The Collegian

President Castro addresses financial and academic concerns amidst COVID-19 pandemic

Fresno State President Dr. Joseph Castro. (Khone Saysamongdy, The Collegian)

Fresno State President Dr. Joseph I. Castro held the second President’s Forum of the semester Thursday, addressing questions and concerns Fresno State students are currently facing.

One of the main issues Castro discussed was the status for the fall semester, saying that the university is looking at three options: resuming in-person classes like it was before COVID-19, complete virtual instruction and then a hybrid of virtual and face-to-face instruction. 

“..We’re going to follow the guidance and advice of our public health experts and make a decision about the fall around the middle of May,” Castro said. 

If face-to-face instruction were to resume in the fall, Castro said one of the main challenges is a possibility of another spike of COVID-19 cases late in the fall. 

Castro also addressed questions regarding the Coronavirus Aid, Relief and Economic Security (CARES) Act, which was passed by Congress. Castro said that the university will receive about $32 million from the funding, and half of that will go toward financial aid grants.

The other half is going to help the university toward revenue losses from housing, parking refunds and the university’s investment in iPads and mobile hotspots for students who needed access to technology.

Castro said the possibility still remains open for some of that funding to go to students studying in the summer. 

Regarding how much funding students receive, Castro added the university is aware of all the students who have applied for financial aid in the past. Students’ previous financial aid information will be used to make a determination for those who qualify for an award.

According to Castro, students who have been determined to have a high financial need will receive a higher reward than those with lower financial needs.

For students who have not received financial aid in the past, Castro said those students can apply for funding and will be provided a grant accordingly. 

The CARES Act doesn’t cover undocumented, international and Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) students. Castro said these groups of students will be included in the university’s overall program, and the school but will use other dollars to support them.

“It’s probably going to be a combination of private funds and maybe some state funds or campus funds,” Castro said. “..There will be a program for those talented Bulldogs, and it will just be using a different source of funding.”

Regarding student employment in the fall semester, Castro said this all depends on the final California state budget. Since California has delayed tax receipts until July, Castro said they won’t know the final state budget until around August.

Once that is known, Castro said that university officials will then meet to make determinations about the jobs that they can continue, but they will prioritize student assistants in the budget moving forward. 

If the campus moves to virtual instruction in the fall, Castro said it depends on the circumstance of the job if students can work remotely. 

Regarding Fresno State athletics, Castro said the athletic situation is continuing to evolve, and the university will make announcements as to when competition might be able to start again.

“Esports is something that we might be able to do more of in the coming months as we prepare for the return of traditional athletics,” Castro said.

Sitting Associated Students and Inc. (ASI) president Omar Hernandez accompanied Castro during the teleconference. He addressed the situation regarding the ASI presidential election and made comments regarding a virtual celebration for spring 2020 graduates.

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