UC Berkeley cancels all in-person classes, most in-person campus services

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Update 3/16/2020: This article has been updated to reflect information from a second campuswide email from Chancellor Carol Christ and Executive Vice Chancellor and Provost Paul Alivisatos.

UC Berkeley Chancellor Carol Christ released an email Monday, outlining campus plans in light of Alameda County’s recent declaration of a “shelter in place” amid the spread of COVID-19, colloquially known as the coronavirus.

A second email, sent by Christ and Executive Vice Chancellor and Provost Paul Alivisatos, provided more detail on how various campus operations will be responding. All in-person classes are officially canceled with no exception, and only remote instruction will continue.

The second email clarified that the city of Berkeley health department confirmed the shelter in place does not prohibit students from moving out of on-campus housing. Campus housing and dining facilities will be maintained “so long as there is a need to do so,” according to the email from Christ and Alivisatos, which also stated that the Basic Needs Center, including the Food Pantry, is relocating to 103 Sproul Hall.

Christ also said in the first email that workers will be working from home unless otherwise specified, and that laboratory functionality will decrease to only basic maintenance work, which will ensure safety and preserve future lab capabilities.

After tonight, buildings will require key card access for entry. Campus has ordered that public spaces be cleaned more often and said custodial staff has been made aware of these changes.

“We realize this information and these directives might add to already heightened anxiety and fear,” the second email reads. “We are making these decisions based on our interest in protecting the members of our community and the vulnerable populations in the greater Bay Area.”

Christ and Alivisatos encouraged researchers to immediately suspend on-campus research as much as possible and said only essential access — animal care, servicing of critical instruments and the maintenance of germ lines — will be authorized through a campus review process. Christ said the process is not yet developed but will be modeled off of UCSF’s procedures.

All libraries, the Martin Luther King Jr. Student Union, Eshleman Hall and the César E. Chávez Student Center will all be closed. The second email also stated that all public events scheduled to take place prior to April 7 should be canceled or rescheduled, and that faculty members should not accept new event reservations.

Campus officials have yet to make a decision about commencement events, currently slated to take place in May.

More information for employees will be released by the UC Office of the President later today, according to the first email.

“This is an unprecedented and dramatic event, yet we are in many ways well prepared for emergencies such as this,” the second email said. “We are committed to doing all we can to support our students and employees. Please take care of yourselves and each other. Together, we will get through this.”

Check here for live updates on the COVID-19 situation in Berkeley.

Contact Sakura Cannestra and Kate Finman at [email protected].