UC Berkeley fall 2020 to resume, status of remote instruction during semester remains unknown

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While the fall 2020 semester will not be canceled, UC Berkeley administrators and local public health officials are working together to determine whether or not the campus will resume in-person instruction, according to a campuswide email released Thursday morning.

Campus administrators do not have an estimated date by which a decision will be made, as there are still many unknown factors. It is still possible, however, that some or all instruction for the 2020-2021 academic year could be held virtually.

“We are monitoring the situation closely and will make a decision about the fall semester as soon as there is enough information to do so,” the email reads. “The health and safety of our students, faculty, and staff will always be our top priority.”

The email also recognizes that some students may not be able to safely return to campus. Therefore, regardless of future decisions, remote instruction will remain an option for fall 2020.

While the campus has not yet made a decision, the email states, the transition back to in-person instruction will likely take place over a series of phases, as some classes are considered to be more appropriate to continue in person.

“We’re making every effort to minimize disruptions to our educational mission and recognize that many students are eager to return to campus as soon as possible,” the email reads.

Additionally, the campus is considering different measures within classrooms and laboratories to help meet public health directives. Such measures include increasing hand-washing, preventing the use of shared equipment, promoting social distancing and wearing facial coverings.

Decisions regarding grading policies — including whether classes will be offered pass/no pass for undergraduates and satisfactory/unsatisfactory for graduate students — will be made at a later date by the Academic Senate.

“We appreciate your patience as we weigh these factors and gather more information about what the situation may be like in the fall,” the email reads.

According to the email, tuition and mandatory fees have been set and will not be refunded regardless of whether classes resume in person for any part of the upcoming academic year.

The email also states that tuition and campus fees are essential to covering the costs of daily operations, including instruction, registration, financial aid and remote academic advising.

The wellness fee was established to support essential health services. Other fees were created to promote the safety of buildings and other campus facilities, including to help address seismic deficiencies.

“Even as UC campuses such as ours have curtailed limited aspects of their operations in response to the COVID-19 pandemic, many of the costs that campus-based fees are intended to cover will continue,” the email reads.

The campus is not guaranteeing housing priority for incoming freshman at this time, as it is uncertain whether the COVID-19 pandemic will allow for “normal operations in student housing and academic life.”

The email states, however, that UC Berkeley remains committed to supporting students should they wish to live on or close to campus.

Residential halls and apartments will remain open for returning students if fall 2020 classes are offered virtually, unless public health authorities direct them to be closed.

Additionally, those who live in campus-affiliated housing can be relieved of the financial obligations, including relevant dining contracts. Students could also receive a prorated refund if the campus does not resume in-person classes during the 2020-2021 academic year or if in-person instruction is suspended for an extended period of time.

The email also suggests that those living off campus should pay attention to the terms of their lease and that students negotiate with their landlords for a month-to-month lease.

“We thank you for your understanding and resilience during these challenging and uncertain times,” the email reads. “We are committed to providing students with the best educational experience possible and we will continue to inform you of the latest developments for the coming fall. ”

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

Mallika Seshadri is the city news editor. Contact her at [email protected] and follow her on Twitter at @SeshadriMallika.