Here’s how UC Berkeley is supporting students in the COVID-19 pandemic

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Update 3/20/2020: this article has been update to reflect a campuswide email sent on behalf of Accounts Payable.

Vice Chancellor for Student Affairs Stephen Sutton sent an email to all campus students Tuesday afternoon, outlining how many student services would operate online in light of campus reductions due to COVID-19, colloquially known as the coronavirus.

The COVID-19 situation on campus is being updated through the campus’ online portal. Earlier this month, a graduate student in the sociology department tested positive for the disease, but Tuesday’s email stated that this case has no high-risk contact, meaning the risk of contracting COVID-19 from this individual is the same as with the general population.

This email comes after six Bay Area counties — including the city of Berkeley — ordered a shelter-in-place until April 7. Following that announcement, Chancellor Carol Christ and other campus administration severely limited in-person operations.

Many of the campus operations that have been relocated to the virtual domain were outlined in Sutton’s email, including financial aid. Financial aid will not be affected by students’ decisions to relocate off-campus, so long as the student remains enrolled in classes through the end of the semester. 

Students living off-campus, however, could be responsible for paying their rent but can read more about terminating their lease. 

The email also gave students common financial aid advice on how to sign up for a direct deposit, update their CalCentral locations to their current address and how to request transcripts or enrollment verification. Students needing additional financial aid should apply for an emergency loan or submit a Cost of Attendance Adjustment request.

Cal Student Central is offering online and phone advising, with weekday phone hours of 9 a.m.-12 p.m. and 1 p.m.-4 p.m if students call 510-664-9181.

The Cal 1 Card office is also providing remote services through email at [email protected] and phone at 510-643-6839 — any in-person support services can be scheduled using its online appointment portal.

The Cal Student Store, which is in the Martin Luther King Jr. Student Union, is temporarily closed along with the student union complex. Online orders can still be placed, however, including orders for graduation caps and gowns. In a previous email, campus officials said a decision has yet to be made about commencement activities.

Students living on campus are advised to look out for additional messages that contain further details. Depending on when students cancel their contracts, they will receive one full installment refund in addition to a partial installment refund, as was mentioned in a previous email. All of the installments can be viewed on CalCentral under the “My Finances” tab’s “Billing Summary.”

To support students’ physical health, University Health Services, or UHS, encourages those who show symptoms associated with COVID-19 — including cough, fever and shortness of breath — to contact their advice line at 510-643-7197. UHS also encourages students to view information on its website regarding social distancing, maintaining good hygiene and washing hands.

To promote mental well-being among the campus community, UHS encourages students to seek support and see UHS counselors. Students can contact Counseling and Psychological Services, or CAPS, at its website or at 510-642-9494  during regular business hours and at 855- 817-5667 after hours. They can also assist students who need to withdraw for medical reasons.

In order to better manage stress, the email provides students with a link to tips and resources to better cope with current events. It also advises students to be aware of their stress levels and prioritize self-care, which can involve talking to friends, exercising and taking breaks. They also suggest that students visit the Recalibrate website for further wellness information.

The email also included the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline at 800-273-TALK (8255).

Students are also encouraged to visit the Office of the Dean of Students’ Mental Health Matters site.

“We recognize that moving to remote instruction for the remainder of the semester, dealing with the shelter-in-place order, working remotely, facing closures in the community, and possibly juggling childcare responsibilities is incredibly challenging,” Sutton’s email reads. “We are here.”

Despite the shelter-in-place order, the Accounts Payable team is working to ensure its services are minimally interrupted, according to a campuswide email sent on March 20.

According to the email, until further notice, production of paper checks — including refunds, stipends and financial aid — will only take place once per week, on Wednesdays, as supposed to on a daily basis.

Direct deposits, however, will still be generated daily, and funds will still be deposited within two to three business days of the original payment date.

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

Contact Sakura Cannestra and Mallika Seshadri at [email protected].