Majority of students living in UC Berkeley housing move out amid COVID-19 pandemic

Jessica Schwabach/File

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After receiving news that classes would be held via remote instruction the rest of the semester in an effort to slow the spread of COVID-19, UC Berkeley students living in campus housing were given the option to remain and practice social distancing or to leave and cancel their housing contract.

According to campus spokesperson Adam Ratliff, at least 5,000 of about 7,000 undergraduate students who live in campus housing — including residence halls, apartments and associated properties — have already moved out, and more are continuing to do so.

“These numbers are changing by the hour,” Ratliff said in an email.

Hall staff, including resident assistants, who live in residence halls to supervise and offer support to students, were also given the option to either stay in campus housing or leave their position, according to Ratliff. If they decided to stay, they were asked to continue their responsibilities and will continue to receive compensation of free room and board. Choosing to leave, however, will not negatively impact their future employment with campus housing.

While many students have chosen to leave campus and Cal Dining has started to limit operations, no hall staff or professional staff members are being laid off and salaries are not being reduced, according to Ratliff.

“It is our priority to ensure that all staff are being compensated for the work they do,” Ratliff said in the email.

Those who have chosen to remain have received emails detailing the importance of physical distancing.

Students are recommended to frequently wash hands and remain six feet apart from others. They are also advised not to go into other rooms or apartments and not to use the elevator at the same time as someone else.

“These are unsettling times and it’s natural that you want to be with each other but adherence to these practices is critical to preventing the spread of the virus,” said Glenn DeGuzman, director of residential life, and Heidi Scribner, executive director of housing, events and facilities services, in an email to students living in Maximino Martinez Commons. “If you need to connect with someone, we suggest that you do so via technology.”

Contact Gigi Nibbelink at [email protected] and follow her on Twitter at @giginibbelink.