New year begins at Fresno State, but campus stays eerily quiet

Distance learning has left the university nearly barren.
FRESNO, Calif. (KFSN) -- The first day of school at Fresno State is looking a lot different than years past.

Normally, the campus would be alive with the hustle and bustle of countless students trying to get to class.

Distance learning has left the university nearly barren. Despite welcoming the biggest class to date with 25,000 students, it's rare to see more than one at a time.

"It feels like you are walking around on the weekend, nobody is here, the campus isn't buzzing, it is just lonely," said senior Makenna Santos.

Approximately 2,200 people will only be allowed on school grounds.

People are screened at one of five checkpoints before they can even drive onto campus. They must then follow health guidelines.

"Social distancing, keeping our distance to make sure that everyone is safe because you never now," said freshman Juan Carballo.

Testing is also available for certain students. A select few are living in dorms this semester, but only one person is allowed in each one.

For some, it's been a difficult adjustment, especially the freshman.

"You are by yourself basically, so you are more lonely and you are less social," said freshman Daisy Baron.

"Ever since I moved in, I feel like it's kind of lonely because everybody stays in their room," said Carballo.

School staff says they're working on creative ways to engage students and create a sense of community.

This means making activities virtual. The health center also remains open and continues to provide mental health services.

"That is completely accessible to all students, whether they are two hours away or they're living on campus," said Collin Stewart, Associate Dean of Student Involvement.

When it comes to meals, students need to pass a health screening before they can access the University Dining Hall.

"You go in, they serve you your food and then they give you a cup, you fill up your cup and they disinfect the machine right after," said freshman Leila Carrera.

Many students are also facing challenges when it comes to virtual class. Connectivity issues greatly impact the lessons in visual classes.

Some say classes go by much quicker online and they don't have time to ask all their questions.

Fresno State officials said since this situation is fluid, they could adjust their current plan to meet the needs of students.

They also want to remind students that even though class is virtual, there are still plenty of resources available to them.
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