Campus & community, Campus news

In pilot program, some UC Berkeley courses are moving outside

The pilot is designed to complement existing remote instruction and lay the groundwork for the possibility of resuming additional in-person activities in the spring semester

Two students walk toward Sather Gate on a virtually empty campus during the coronavirus pandemic.
The few students who returned to Berkeley in August found a desolate campus. (UC Berkeley photo by Irene Yi)

Executive Vice Chancellor and Provost Paul Alivisatos, Vice Provost for Academic Planning Lisa Alvarez-Cohen and Jennifer Johnson-Hanks, chair of the Berkeley Division of the Academic Senate, sent the following message to the campus community on Thursday: 

We’re pleased to announce that our proposal to pilot a limited number of outdoor instructional activities has been approved by the city of Berkeley Public Health. The pilot will kick off on Monday, Oct. 26 and end on Tuesday, Nov. 24, before the Thanksgiving holiday.

After months of sheltering in place and planning for the possibility of resuming in-person instruction, it is exciting to see this pilot moving forward. The pilot is designed to complement existing remote instruction and lay the groundwork for the possibility of resuming additional in-person activities in the spring semester.

All parts of the pilot share a core safety infrastructure that the campus has developed over the past six months. This includes wearing masks, meeting only in small groups, maintaining physical distance, getting tested prior to participating, completing public health safety training, and answering daily screening questions about any COVID-19 symptoms you may be experiencing.

All students and instructors who participate in the pilot will be required to test negative for COVID-19 within one week of participating in each outdoor instructional activity. This pilot will also be aided by a new badge system developed by UHS, which tracks testing frequency on campus. Each participant must also follow all other safety requirements for being on campus. Only individuals who live in the Bay Area will be allowed to participate in this outdoor pilot, as non-essential travel is not permitted by the current public health orders.

Students and instructors who are eligible to participate in one of these pilot programs will be contacted directly with more information.

This is a limited set of occasional, outdoor activities only, consistent with the public health guidance that outdoor activities pose lower risk of transmission than indoor ones.

The pilot includes five components:

  1. Offerings for international students to attend at least one outdoor in-person meeting with an instructor to meet the requirements of their visas.
  2. Music Department students who play string instruments in the orchestra will be allowed to practice together outdoors.
  3. Rausser College of Natural Resources students in field courses such as grassland ecology, geology, plant community ecology, and fungal ecology, will be able to participate in outdoor field work sessions.
  4. College of Engineering instructional research groups will be allowed to meet in small cohorts in designated spaces outdoors.
  5. Haas School of Business graduate students will be allowed to attend a combination of occasional instructional courses and select co-curricular activities.

This pilot is possible because of the improving trends we’re seeing on campus and in the greater Berkeley community. It is the direct result of all of our sacrifices and adherence to public health guidelines. For this we are all grateful, and please keep up the good work!