Campus gears up to offer student instruction on campus — and off

Campus academic leaders joined Executive Vice Chancellor and Provost Paul Alivisatos Monday to discuss what campus instruction will look like in the fall. (UC Berkeley video)

Despite this time of enormous uncertainty brought on by COVID-19, campus leaders say they remain steadfast in their promise to continue providing the highest level of instruction — whether students are on campus or learning remotely.

“That is our commitment, to give our students an excellent education,” said Oliver O’Reilly, chair of the Berkeley Division of the Academic Senate. “We all wish that the pandemic wasn’t here. But it is, and we’ll deal with it with nimbleness and flexibility.”

O’Reilly’s comments came Monday as part of a wide-ranging Campus Conversations discussion on what fall planning instruction would look like, given the ever-moving, and sometimes confusing, public health and safety guidance about the coronavirus pandemic.

The hourlong discussion — during which questions from viewers were fielded by O’Reilly; Paul Alivisatos, executive vice chancellor and provost; Catherine Koshland, vice chancellor for undergraduate education; and Lisa García Bedolla, vice provost for graduate studies and dean of the Graduate Division — centered on concerns and queries about students’ registration, class selection and safety, and on the wisdom of taking a gap year.

Alivisatos said the leaders had already begun to create a timeline for slowly cranking up the instruction engines on campus. Beginning early next month, he said, students should expect to receive information on courses (to be offered with a component that is also taught in-person), class schedules and classroom building locations, as well as details on new undergraduate student registration. The goal, Alivisatos said, is to have students, staff and faculty as prepared as possible for the first day of classes on Aug. 26.

In-person instruction will end at Thanksgiving, O’Reilly said, to limit travel back and forth from campus and to curb the spread of the virus. As such, final exams will all be remote.