Chancellor Carol Christ sent this message to the UC Berkeley community late Sunday afternoon:
Dear students, staff and faculty,
I am writing to provide today’s update on air quality conditions, as well as news about decisions regarding classes and campus operations during the days ahead.
Over the weekend, we have been closely tracking air quality data, as well as forecasts for Berkeley. Throughout the day today, readings from the closest monitor, located in Aquatic Park, indicate that the Air Quality Index (AQI) has remained below 200, the level at which we, in concert with our medical and environmental experts, consider the cancellation of classes. (According to the EPA, a 200 AQI is the level at which everyone, not only those who are medically sensitive to degraded air quality, may experience adverse health effects.) According to current forecasts for tomorrow from the Bay Area Air Quality Management District and the National Weather Service, it remains uncertain as to whether current conditions will persist.
After consultation with the Academic Senate, we have decided to cancel all classes for Monday and Tuesday. (Wednesday is not an instructional day.) Many students have already left for home, and we want to provide those who remain on campus with predictability and adequate time for travel planning prior to the Thanksgiving break. Tomorrow we will provide additional information and suggestions for how students and instructors will be able to compensate for lost class time this semester. It is already clear we will need to take time from Reading, Review and Recitation Week, which runs from Dec. 3 through Dec. 7, to make up for missed classes and are therefore encouraging students to plan accordingly and use the days ahead for reading and review, if possible.
For students remaining on campus, please be aware that the following buildings have the best air filtration systems, with air quality that can be 20 to 40 percent better than outside conditions: the East Asian Library, the Biosciences and Natural Science Library in the Valley Life Sciences Building, the Main (Gardner) Stacks of Doe Library, the Haas School of Business complex, the Berkeley Law Library, and the Hargrove Music Library.
For additional information about how to protect yourself, indoors and out, from wildfire smoke, see this guide provided by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
Even as the heroic efforts of firefighters are containing and controlling fires burning across the state of California, the death toll continues to mount, the number of those unaccounted for continues to increase and the scale of loss and suffering continues to grow.
Now, as we approach the Thanksgiving holiday, I know we will all consider how, in our own ways, we can express and provide support for our friends and neighbors across the state who are struggling to cope during the most difficult of times. If you are interested in helping out, the state of California is providing information about qualified volunteer opportunities and vetted organizations that are collecting financial contributions. That information is available on the state’s website.
I wish everyone a safe and healthy Thanksgiving.
Carol T. Christ, Chancellor