In-person classes canceled to mitigate COVID-19 spread

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Update 3/9/2020: this article has been updated with more information from a campuswide email sent by Chancellor Carol Christ.

Nearly all in-person classes have been canceled beginning Tuesday until March 29, according to a facultywide email sent about noon Monday.

The email, signed by Executive Vice Chancellor and Provost Paul Alivisatos and Academic Senate chair Oliver O’Reilly, was sent to all campus instructors and called for instructors to organize online class processes. If instructors do not have online class processes organized by Tuesday, the email said instructors have until Thursday to establish online classes and resume as usual.

As of press time, the World Health Organization reported that more than 109,000 people globally have been diagnosed with COVID-19, more colloquially known as coronavirus. The city of Berkeley confirmed March 3 that one resident has been diagnosed with COVID-19.

In the message sent to campus instructors, Alivisatos and O’Reilly emphasized that there are still no confirmed COVID-19 cases related to the campus community.

“As local, national, and global public health recommendations shift to include mitigation of transmission, we are proactively taking steps that will help to protect the community,” the email said.

Attendance policies campuswide have been suspended, according to the email, and students cannot be penalized for nonattendance. Students who are concerned with their attendance policies or who are being told to attend in-person classes should contact their department chair or school dean.

The email also emphasized that campus will not be closing during this period. Classrooms will be accessible by instructors and instructors may meet with each other on campus. Campus operations will also remain normal, but there may be limited operations because employers across campus will be encouraging employees to work from home, when possible.

“Many courses on this campus have been refined with thought and care over decades,” the email reads. “We appreciate that revising these courses to make them amendable to online delivery in a short period of time will be taxing and we ask members of the instructional community to help each other by sharing resources and expertise.”

Chancellor Carol Christ also sent a campuswide email Tuesday at about 1:25 p.m. announcing the suspension of most in-person classes.

She added that all campus-sponsored events with plans for more than 150 attendees will be canceled or postponed, though this does not include events scheduled by Cal Performances or Intercollegiate Athletics. She said campus administration discourages in-person gatherings with less than 150 attendees.

“In our assessment of the current situation, including the likelihood that the Berkeley campus could have a coronavirus case at any time, we believe that this is the best action for our campus community and the broader Berkeley community,” Christ said in the email.

According to Christ, a decision on how to proceed will be made at a later time, based on how the information regarding the virus progresses.

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Sakura Cannestra is the managing editor. Contact her at [email protected] and follow her on Twitter at @SakuCannestra.