Chancellor Carol Christ, Catherine Koshland, interim executive vice chancellor and provost; and Guy Nicolette, assistant Vice Chancellor for University Health Services sent the following message to the campus community on Friday:
With COVID-19 cases surging and positivity rates on the rise, it’s clear we’re in for a challenging January. As we navigate the omicron wave it’s important that we be especially flexible and patient with one another. In this spirit, we’re writing to share some updates to our instructional plans for the spring semester.
After consultation with the UC Berkeley public health committee, input from students, staff and faculty, and much deliberation, we have decided to begin the semester with a two-stage process, with most courses being offered fully remote for the first two weeks (Jan. 18-28) and then moving to fully in-person instruction in the third week of the semester on Jan. 31.
Some courses such as lab sections, studio courses, fieldwork, clinical courses, and graduate seminars may be taught in-person Jan 18-28. For these in-person courses, instructors may require in-person attendance but must offer appropriate make-up arrangements for students who are unable to attend because they have symptoms or are in isolation/quarantine.
Instructors may teach some courses in hybrid mode (where some students are in-person and others are participating remotely via Zoom) or allow their students to attend their lectures in-person during the initial two-week period. Hybrid is not a desirable modality for many courses; instructors are not required to teach any course in a hybrid mode.
We have chosen this approach for several reasons:
- We believe strongly in the importance of in-person instruction and in providing an in-person experience for our students. Starting on Monday, Jan. 31, 2022, we plan that all classes and sections will be delivered according to their approved modality as listed in the schedule of classes. But, the plans described here are subject to change as pandemic conditions evolve.
- We expect many students, faculty and staff will not be able to come to campus because of the rapid spread of the omicron variant. While we expect this surge to peak in January, we anticipate current pandemic conditions continuing into February. We will use the two-week period of remote instruction to plan for how best to meet the operational needs of our campus with so many students, staff and faculty unable to be on campus because they have symptoms, are isolating/quarantining or have family care issues resulting from omicron.
The campus will remain open; students, staff and faculty are welcome to come to campus for all other research, administration and operational purposes. Normal campus operations will continue, though we anticipate disruptions resulting from people not being able to come to campus.
As we embark on this latest phase of our response to COVID-19, we ask that you exercise compassion and extend grace to one another. While the pandemic impacts everyone, our individual experiences are deeply personal and unique. We hope that all members of our campus community will find it in their hearts to treat each other with kindness and understanding as we navigate this challenging moment together.