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An update on how UC Berkeley instructors are preparing for coronavirus

"Thanking you for your efforts in support, patience and wisdom as we collectively navigate this challenging time," two Berkeley leaders write

Sather Gate
UC Berkeley's Sather Gate (Photo by Peg Skorpinski)

A. Paul Alivisatos, UC Berkeley’s executive vice chancellor and provost, and Oliver M. O’Reilly, chair of the Berkeley Division of the Academic Senate, sent the following message to all faculty, staff and students on Wednesday, March 4, 2020:

We write in follow up to our March 2 message to all instructors regarding planning ahead for instructional resilience. In light of the news yesterday that there is now a case of the novel coronavirus (COVID-19) in the city of Berkeley, we are providing the following guidance to instructors on holding courses and exams. We are providing this guidance as a precautionary measure, so that students who feel unwell do not feel compelled to attend lectures or take examinations while they are ill.

Instructional guidance

Instructors are asked to review and implement the following instructional guidance:

  1. Holding Classes: In-person classes should continue to be held until advised otherwise. Additionally, instructors are asked, whenever feasible, to offer an online option for their course lecture material (see #2 and #3 below). Instructors who are unwell are asked, as is standard practice, to make arrangements to have their course covered.
  2. Course Capture (Screen Capture with Audio Recording – No Video of Instructor): For classes offered in rooms that are equipped and are not currently using course capture, we are asking for instructors to use the free Screen with Audio Recording option so that students can participate remotely. Email [email protected] with your course name to activate this option.
  3. Alternate Means of Recording Classes: For classes offered in rooms where free Course Capture is not available, instructors are encouraged to:
    • use ZoomPro and a laptop to record lecture slides/audio where strong internet connection is available and share after class through bCourses; or
    • record audio from your phone/tablet/laptop and share audio file and slide deck through bCourses as separate files; and
    • share a text version through bCourses.
  4. Attendance Requirements: We are asking instructors to consider suspending any attendance requirements until further notice.
  5. Office Hours: We are asking instructors to consider enabling video conferencing for office hours.
  6. Exams: For examinations during the month of March, we encourage instructors to give take-home exams that are returned to the instructor using the bCourses Quizzes or Assignments functionality. Instructors should accommodate students who are ill.
  7. Labs: Labs should remain open and routine safety measures should continue to be adhered to.
  8. Course Activities and Physical Contact: We recommend instructors consider a no physical contact policy for course activities (e.g., for courses in the departments such as Theatre, Dance and Performing Studies, Physical Education, Maker Spaces, etc.). Additionally, staff, instructors, and students are strongly encouraged to properly clean contact surfaces and equipment before and after use. Facilities Services has also been asked to increase their cleaning services during this period.


  • Schedule a virtual or in-person consultation with a DLS consultant for support in using digital methods for teaching. Please feel free to bring a GSI or other member of your teaching staff with you. Drop in consultation services will also be offered in the Academic Innovation Studio (117 Dwinelle) from 9am to 4pm Monday through Friday.
  • Terry Johnson, Faculty Director of the CTL, will hold a workshop on pedagogical approaches to disruption on Thursday, March 5, from 4:45 p.m.  to 6:00 p.m. To accommodate schedules and capacity an additional, identical workshop will be held the following week. You can attend in person at the Academic Innovation Studio or via Zoom.
  • Visit the Instructional Resilience Resources page for links to resources, best practices, support, and training materials. Here you will also learn how to access a free ZoomPro account, which allows instructors to offer audio and video streaming for up to 300 participants and sessions lasting up to 24 hours. Instructors offering courses with extremely different needs – from small group seminars to large lectures – have successfully used ZoomPro. Staff are currently on standby anticipating requests from instructors for these accounts.
  • Please note that a detailed list of accommodations can be found on the Academic Accommodations Hub. An updated set of guidelines for missed days of instruction has also been issued by the Academic Senate.

Instructors who have questions or concerns about implementing our recommendations, please elevate them to your chair for guidance. For issues that are not resolvable at the local level, chairs are encouraged to contact their deans. Should you have other issues that we have not addressed or ideas that might benefit the instructional mission of the campus during these times, please feel free to let us know by sending an email to [email protected]. We will do our utmost to respond in a timely manner.

Thanking you for your efforts in support, patience and wisdom as we collectively navigate this challenging time.