UC Berkeley has transitioned to virtual classes for the remainder of the semester in order to mitigate the spread of COVID-19, colloquially known as the coronavirus.
In a campuswide email sent by Chancellor Carol Christ and Executive Vice Chancellor Paul Alivisatos on Friday morning, campus officials stated that instruction will be offered through teleconferencing mechanisms only, such as Zoom. The campus is currently working on possible alternatives for classes that do not have a virtual alternative, such as lab classes, though the email suggests that instructors adopt social distancing practices.
On March 9, campus officials announced that classes would be virtual through March 29, which is the end of spring break. Following this, campus officials, city officials and state officials all outlined various guidelines.
“Given the dynamic nature of travel restrictions and quarantine requirements, we advise students leaving campus for spring break that they take along any course materials they would need to keep up with classes that are being taught remotely from an off-campus location,” the email reads. “We strongly advise students to refrain from non-essential travel during spring break.”
The email also said campus officials will support students’ decisions to relocate out of campus housing. One or more residence halls may be closed during this time, and students who chose to remain on campus may be relocated into fewer locations, along with other choices to improve social distancing between students.
Students who decide to move out of campus housing will receive relief from payment obligations from housing contracts if they chose to move out of campus housing or Blackwell Hall, according to the email. This will be distributed through a prorated refund of housing fees that have already been paid, and students will be able to choose their choice of relief based on three move-out dates — April 1, April 10 or April 20.
Housing that is not owned by the campus, such as student cooperatives, Bowles Hall and fraternities or sororities, have their own housing policies.
Despite the current call for virtual classes, the email states that campus may resume in-person instruction at some point during the semester, depending on guidance from public health officials. If in-person classes resume, however, the email also said attendance will not be mandatory for the rest of the semester, so students who have decided to continue remotely will not be penalized.
Supervisors of student workers were encouraged to find virtual alternatives for student employees who need employee wages to cover basic needs costs but would prefer to leave the campus area. If remote work is not possible, the UC systemwide policy is for students to receive two weeks of paid administrative leave — according to the email, this would cover many weeks of pay due to the regular hours of student workers.
Critical campus functions, such as research and student support services, will continue operating with adjusted hours. The email said individual units will be trusted to communicate changes.
“Currently there are no positive cases of COVID-19 related to any members of our campus community,” the email said. “Through the work of our dedicated University Health Services professionals and in close concert with local public health colleagues, we are monitoring the situation closely.”
Check here for live updates on the COVID-19 situation in Berkeley.