CA Department of Public Health releases COVID-19 guidances for colleges, universities

UC Berkeley Campus
Sunny Shen/File
The California Department of Public Health's COVID-19 guidances for UC Berkeley and other institutions of higher education include mandated face coverings for anyone in indoor public spaces as well as physical distancing.

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The California Department of Public Health, or CDPH, released COVID-19 guidances for UC Berkeley and other institutions of higher education Friday.

In addition to general measures such as disinfecting and ventilating spaces, the guidance incorporates the CDPH’s June 18 guidance on face covering use, which mandated face coverings for anyone in indoor public spaces, including university students, staff and faculty. The document also includes guidance for athletics, such as physical distancing and limiting traveling during competitions.

The state guidance requires every institution to establish a written, campus-specific COVID-19 prevention plan, perform a risk assessment and designate a person to implement that plan. There is no uniform deadline for the completion of campus-specific plans.

According to the CDPH, the California Division of Occupational Safety and Health has jurisdiction over places of employment at colleges and universities, but student-specific areas, such as dorms, would fall under the purview of the local health jurisdiction officer if no employees work there.

Campus spokesperson Janet Gilmore said in an email the released guidance does not change UC Berkeley’s instructional plans, which are to begin the fall semester with remote learning and move to in-person classes for courses of 25 or fewer students if and when health conditions permit.

Residential hall plans also remain unchanged, and campus will move forward with staggered move ins starting Aug. 20 at single occupancy per room.

“The campus has been heavily involved in prevention planning for many months now via various campus committees that provided recommendations to the Chancellor,” Gilmore said in the email. “It is thanks to much of that planning, which is in alignment with state guidance, that we have no current plans to change our fall plans.”

Campus administration is working on consolidating existing guidance documents that address individual components CDPH would like to see in a comprehensive COVID-19 prevention plan.

In order to ensure registered student organizations and CalGreek organizations comply with guidelines, campus expects to prohibit them from sponsoring or organizing gatherings and events off campus, including in off-campus residences.

College campuses are also required to limit access to nonessential and nonaffiliated visitors to reduce mingling between the campus and general community.

“No one will be stopped outdoors on campus property and asked why they are present,” Gilmore said in the email. “This requirement will have no impact upon the interaction between campus personnel and unsheltered people.”

Gilmore added that campus administration will soon announce requests for voluntary community compliance with this requirement.

Contact Catherine Hsu at [email protected] and follow her on Twitter at @catherinehsuDC.