Paul Alivisatos, UC Berkeley’s executive vice chancellor and provost, sent the following message to the campus community on Wednesday:
I am writing to follow up on a message sent yesterday to instructors by Oliver O’Reilly, chair of the Berkeley Division of the Academic Senate. We want to make sure that students and those staff who work with faculty and students are aware of how instructors are being guided relative to missed coursework from last week’s cancellation of classes.
Last week’s PG&E Public Safety Power Shutoff resulted in the cancellation of class for three consecutive days and disrupted classes, laboratory and discussion sessions, qualifying and midterm examinations and reviews. As part of the shared governance of the campus, the Academic Senate’s Committee on Courses and Instruction (COCI) is charged with advising the administration on variances to courses. For the past seven days, COCI has monitored the campus’ response to the power outage and its effects on the educational mission.
To assist instructors who are navigating the consequences of these events for their courses, COCI has developed the following set of recommendations and guidelines for instructors:
Instructors are permitted to directly transfer the class schedules and classroom assignments from last week’s missed days to the corresponding days of Reading/Recitation/Review (RRR) week — i.e., Wednesday December 11, Thursday December 12, and Friday December 13 — where necessary to ensure the integrity of instruction. COCI advises that making available the Wednesday, Thursday, and Friday of RRR week for make-up class meetings does not mean mandating that all classes with regular meetings on those days must hold regular classes on those days. Rather, faculty are encouraged to strike the best balance possible between the interest of maintaining the originally slated sequence of instruction with that of allowing RRR week to serve its intended purpose of allowing for review in advance of final exams.
Although COCI is lifting the prohibition against presenting new course material during RRR week, in the hopes of preserving the intended purpose of RRR week and providing a bulwark against any future disruptions that might occur later in the semester, faculty are urged to adjust their course schedules to avoid presenting new material during RRR week if at all possible.
While the interruptions last week were almost the same length as those in November 2018, the closures last week have come several weeks earlier in the semester. COCI hopes that this will provide an extra degree of flexibility for faculty to adapt their schedules to minimize the impact of the closures last week, including options that may not require the use of the availability of extra class meeting slots during RRR week. Faculty are encouraged to exercise their best judgment in making such adaptations to their course syllabi, and to communicate any changes to students and student instructors as quickly as possible.
Students are encouraged to be in direct contact with instructors if they have any questions about their specific courses.
Please note that the above guidance is dependent on the Office of the President granting us approval to our request for an exception to the required 73 days of instruction in a semester (RRR week is included in these 73 days), which we are currently in the process of seeking. A similar request was granted in Fall 2018 for the cancellation of three days of classes due to air quality, so we anticipate receiving approval again this year.
I want to thank you again for your patience and collaboration as we managed last week’s events. It truly was a community effort.
A. Paul Alivisatos
Executive Vice Chancellor and Provost