Campus news

UC Berkeley extends remote instruction through end of semester

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

UC Berkeley Chancellor Carol Christ and Executive Vice Chancellor and Provost Paul Alivisatos sent the following message to the campus community on Friday, March 13, 2020:

We have decided to continue to offer instruction remotely via Zoom, teleconferencing and other virtual platforms for lecture, discussion, and seminar courses (as well as other types of courses such as laboratory, clinic, and studio courses, that have already successfully developed strategies for remote learning) through the end of the semester. We are doing this in response to guidance from public health authorities to implement social distancing in an effort to mitigate the spread of COVID-19. Protecting the health and safety of members of the campus community remains our priority.

We also are committed to preserving our academic mission. We are working on solutions to offer alternative modes of instruction to more students in non-lecture courses and settings. For the small number of courses that do not have a remote option, students will need to get guidance from their instructors on how they are adopting social distancing practices, which ideally leaves six feet of space between individuals. More information to instructors is forthcoming today.

  1. We will support students and families in their decisions about where it is best for them to reside during this public health emergency. We recognize that some students may want or need to remain on campus through spring break or return to campus after spring break. They will be allowed to do so. It is possible we will close one or more of the residence halls and relocate students into fewer locations, as well as adjust our operations to improve social distancing (e.g., spreading students out, delivering box meals, scheduling use of common facilities, etc.).
  2. Students will receive relief from their campus housing and dining fees if they decide to move out.  The campus will approve all requests for relief from further payment obligations of campus housing contracts from students who decide to move out of campus housing and Blackwell Hall for the remainder of this academic year.  The campus will provide these students with a prorated refund of any campus housing fees that have already been paid by these students, based upon their effective move-out date. Students will have the choice to receive relief from payment obligations based upon an effective move-out date of April 1, April 10, or April 20. Students who want to move out must complete their written request and move out prior to April 20.  The amount of the actual cash refund that a student receives after being released from the student’s campus housing payment obligations may be dependent upon the degree to which the student’s housing costs are covered by the student’s financial aid package. FAQS, further guidance, specific details, and online forms to complete to obtain housing refunds are being developed and will be published no later than Monday, March 16.

Bowles Hall, International House (I-House), co-ops, fraternities and sororities, private apartments and other housing facilities not owned by the campus have their own housing policies. Please contact your building/house manager for details. In the event your current housing will close down and you do not have other options or would prefer to stay in Berkeley, please contact Cal Housing for assistance in securing a university housing contract.

Depending on the guidance and direction of public health officials regarding COVID-19 in the coming weeks, it is possible that the campus may generally resume in-person instruction at some point during the semester. If in-person instruction resumes, in-person course attendance will continue to not be mandatory for the rest of the semester. Students who are able to make a decision now to finish this semester remotely are welcome to do so.

We understand that some student workers may need their student-employee wages to cover their basic needs yet would prefer to leave campus and the local area. Supervisors are encouraged to explore work assignments that these students could perform remotely over a number of weeks. If such arrangements cannot be worked out, under UC systemwide policy, students may receive two weeks of paid administrative leave. Many students work a few hours a week, so such a leave could cover many weeks.

Given the dynamic nature of travel restrictions and quarantine requirements, we advise students leaving campus for spring break that they take along any course materials they would need to keep up with classes that are being taught remotely from an off-campus location. We strongly advise students to refrain from non-essential travel during spring break.

Despite this decision regarding instruction, critical campus functions, including our research enterprise and student support services, remain operational, some with adjusted service hours. We will rely on individual units to communicate any changes with your constituents. We have advised that managers and supervisors offer flexible work arrangements for employees when possible, yet we recognize that many of our operations require employees to be on campus.

Currently there are no positive cases of COVID-19 related to any members of our campus community. Through the work of our dedicated University Health Services professionals and in close concert with local public health colleagues, we are monitoring the situation closely.

Please take care of yourselves, do your part to “flatten the curve,” and slow the spread of COVID-19, respect those around you in accordance with our Principles of Community, stay up to date on COVID-19-related developments on campus, and be well.