Campus & community, Campus news

UC Berkeley announces plans for the spring 2021 semester

"At this time, we plan to offer limited in-person instruction," two campus leaders write in message

The top of the Campanile, seen through vegetation, fall colors
"The world of remote learning and work, of social distancing, bears scant resemblance to our ideas of what college life is meant to be," said Chancellor Christ. "Yet, I know Berkeley well. We are resilient and our community is strong. And we will find virtual ways to foster a true sense of belonging, of connection, of mutual support until we are together again." (UC Berkeley photo by Keegan Houser)

Chancellor Carol Christ and Executive Vice Chancellor and Provost Paul Alivisatos sent the following message to the campus community on Tuesday:

We’re writing to share an update on our plans for the spring semester. We know that many of you are eager to make plans for instruction and housing. While not all decisions have been finalized, we hope this information will be helpful in your planning.

As was the case when we announced our plans for the fall, these decisions are dependent on approval from local public health authorities. We must recognize that we continue to operate amid great uncertainty, as uncomfortable as that may be.


Our planning for the spring semester will be very similar to that of the fall semester. We will begin the semester with fully remote delivery of instruction for at least two weeks. This will allow any students returning to campus to self-sequester for 7-10 days. After that, the considerable majority of classes will continue to be delivered remotely, including all large courses. 

At this time, we plan to offer limited in-person instruction, and those instructional activities being considered will be noted by Thursday, Oct. 1 in the online schedule of classes. Any in-person instructional activity will be limited to 25 students. Almost all courses will be made available in a fully remote format if public health conditions dictate that no in-person instruction is permissible.

Students will not be required to take in-person classes or to be present on campus for the spring semester. Almost all academic offerings, including those with in-person instructional activities, will also be delivered remotely. For the small number of courses that will only be offered in person if public health conditions allow, departments are ensuring that other classes are available that can be substituted so that students can continue to make progress towards their degrees. Talk to your advisor for guidance. Students who require disability-related accommodations for classes, whether online or in person, can contact the Disabled Students’ Program.

You can read more about our guiding principles and the criteria being used for in-person instruction in the Spring 2021 Instruction Planning Guidelines.

As we have communicated previously, tuition and mandatory fees have been set regardless of the method of instruction.

On-campus housing

We recognize that many students don’t have a viable alternative to living in on-campus housing. For these students, we plan to continue to offer the option to live in our on-campus residence halls, apartment-style options for both undergraduates and graduates, and family housing (for those with spouses/partners, children or other dependents). Students who were given priority for on-campus housing in the fall will be given priority again in the spring.

Currently, our residential halls only offer single-occupancy rooms. We have the capacity to house additional students in single occupancy rooms and may evaluate the feasibility of increasing the density to allow for some double-occupancy rooms if public health conditions allow. In addition, we will continue to offer apartment-style housing and family housing with no change in capacity. We will provide more information as we get closer to the spring semester.

As noted above, all students living in residential halls will be required to be tested prior to move-in and adhere to a sequestration period of 7-10 days followed by additional mandatory regular testing. We will continue to reserve space for quarantine and isolation purposes.

Work arrangements

Faculty and staff who are currently working from home should plan to continue to do so through June 30, 2021. This time period could be shorter if pandemic conditions improve or longer if pandemic conditions worsen. Stay tuned for more specific information about this which will come tomorrow.

Update on fall activities

As you may have seen, the Pac-12 CEO Group has voted to resume practice and competition for some fall and winter sports. The campus will also be working with public health authorities to secure approval to resume additional non-mandatory in-person activities for those who wish to participate in them. This proposal will include a very limited set of in-person instructional and research activities. If approved, and pending operational readiness, these activities would commence the last week of October and continue until the start of the Thanksgiving break.

As a reminder, even if we’re able to resume limited in-person instruction this semester, all in-person instruction (as well as final exams) will be delivered remotely after Thanksgiving.

Once public health conditions allow, the campus will also explore the possibility of allowing limited non-academic outdoor meetings of students, including clubs and other activities.

Protecting the health of the community

We are all eager to return to some semblance of normal. Our ability to do that is contingent upon us all doing our part to protect ourselves and those around us. Please continue to be diligent in following all campus, city and state public health mandates. 

  • Wear a face covering at all times when you’re outside your home.
  • Wash your hands frequently with soap and water. 
  • Stay at least six feet away from others – even when wearing a face covering.
  • Get tested as often as is required or recommended.
  • Complete the Daily Symptom Screener if you are going to be on campus and stay home if you are sick.

Updates and more information

Lastly, we want to acknowledge the profound challenges faced by many members of our campus community. It has been said that while we’re all in the same storm, we’re not all in the same boat. The COVID-19 pandemic has impacted us all in different ways and exacerbated the inequities that already existed in our society. Please know that while your challenges may be unique, you don’t need to face them alone. We have resources to help, many of which are linked from the coronavirus site.

We will continue to provide updates as they become available. The campus coronavirus site is being updated regularly as is the UC Berkeley Mobile app. You can expect to find the latest updates in each Friday’s Response and Recovery newsletter.

We’re all in this together. And we’re confident that we’ll emerge from it stronger than ever.