UC Berkeley to hold hybrid semester for fall 2020

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Update 06/17/2020: This article has been updated to include additional information from UC Berkeley Chancellor Carol Christ, Executive Vice Chancellor and Provost Paul Alivisatos, Vice Chancellor for Undergraduate Education Catherine Koshland and Vice Chancellor for Student Affairs Stephen Sutton.

UC Berkeley will have a hybrid fall semester, with some in-person classes and activities but a majority of services and courses online, in light of the COVID-19 pandemic.

According to the UC Berkeley Division of Student Affairs website, in-person classes will be conducted for students on campus, with the number of students in a class limited by public health and building density guidelines. Students will not be required to take any classes in person to have “full-time status,” and campus administration will have a completed course guide listing the classes that will be offered in person by July, according to the website.

All in-person instruction will be delivered remotely following Thanksgiving break to reduce COVID-19 exposure from traveling, according to the website. 

Whether the “pass/no pass” grading option will be the default as it was for the spring 2020 semester has yet to be determined, but it will be decided by the campus Academic Senate when the semester is in progress, according to the website. 

“Our goal is to best support students in their academic journey,” the website states.

UC Berkeley is also developing a “Semester in the Cloud” program, which will include “gateway” courses to help students complete major and breadth requirements remotely. According to the student affairs website, the courses in the program will be offered completely virtually.

In-person events, including club activities, will likely be limited during the school year, although students will be supported in engaging in clubs, activities and events virtually. Students on campus will be required to physically distance from others, wear face coverings and practice hand-washing hygiene. They will also be required to sign a pledge that they will follow these protocols prior to returning to campus.

Campus plans to offer housing to up to 6,500 students in on-campus residence halls. These rooms will be limited to single or double occupancy, according to the website. Move ins to campus will be staggered beginning early August to avoid a crowded move-in day. 

According to the website, UC Berkeley will likely be unable to provide on-campus housing for all students who apply. Individuals who have the “most needs for living physically on-campus,” including those experiencing housing insecurity, those with disabilities or those who require other accommodations, will be prioritized in the residence hall assignment process.

Campus will also prioritize returning students who have already received housing offers, students with an estimated financial contribution of zero dollars, student-athletes, students on various campus- and UC-managed scholarships and students living in cultural- and identity-themed housing programs.

Students already offered contracts who wish to cancel their existing contracts will be able to do so without penalty.

UC Berkeley staff will be available to help students who do not receive housing contracts find off-campus housing.  

Space in one of the residence halls will be reserved for quarantine or isolation purposes. All students returning to residence halls will be required to be tested for COVID-19 immediately before or after they arrive and to isolate for seven to 10 days after moving in. 

For incoming freshmen and junior transfer students, Golden Bear Orientation and the Getting Your Bearings program will be held remotely. 

UC Berkeley Chancellor Carol Christ and UC Berkeley Executive Vice Chancellor and Provost Paul Alivisatos will hold a livestream June 18 to answer public questions about fall planning.

According to a campuswide email from Christ, Alivisatos, Vice Chancellor for Undergraduate Education Catherine Koshland and Vice Chancellor for Student Affairs Stephen Sutton, decisions made still need to be approved by local health authorities in order to be implemented.

Contact Sebastian Cahill and Kate Finman at [email protected].

Correction(s):
Because of misinformation from a source, a previous version of this article incorrectly stated that Golden Bear Orientation activities will be held in person. In fact, Golden Bear Orientation activities will be held remotely.