UC Berkeley mandates weeklong sequester period for residential hall students

Karen Chow/File
UC Berkeley is mandating students who are living in campus residential halls to self-sequester until at least Feb. 8. This decision comes as cases of COVID-19 among UC Berkeley students continue to rise.

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Update 2/1/2021: This article has been updated to include information from Cal Housing.

Update 2/2/2021: This article has been updated to include new information from the UC Berkeley student affairs and Cal Housing.

Effective immediately, UC Berkeley is requiring all students living in residential halls to self-sequester through at least Feb. 8 as positive cases of COVID-19 among students continue to surge.

According to an email sent Monday from UC Berkeley student affairs, all residential hall students must leave their room as little as possible and wear a face covering in all common areas. During the sequester period, students are permitted to leave their room only for medical care, food, mandatory testing and in an emergency.

A student affairs email sent Tuesday adds that in accordance with direction from the city of Berkeley’s health officer, students should avoid using communal restrooms at the same time as another resident to help reduce virus transmission. Elevators may also be out of use at certain times to allow staff to provide necessities.

“It is essential that we are able to support our community, including ensuring that we have proper isolation and quarantine spaces,” the email reads. “It is also vital that we ‘flatten the curve’ and reduce the spread within our community.”

In terms of meals, a Monday email from Cal Housing states that beginning Tuesday, students will pick up food from a kiosk located outside their residence hall.

As part of a new system, the email states, residents must also show their eTang badges to health ambassadors to ensure compliance with mandatory testing requirements. The email noted, however, that all residents will receive food, regardless of the color of their badge.

According to an email from Cal Housing sent Tuesday, students will no longer need to pick up their meals during a designated time slot. Starting Wednesday, lunch will be available for pickup from 11 a.m. to 2 p.m. and dinner as well as breakfast box pickup will be open from 4 p.m. to 8 p.m.

“We thank you for your patience with our staff as we work to implement a policy that satisfies guidelines provided by public health officials and also ensures you have enough flexibility to be able to receive your meals at a time that works for you,” the email states.

In the meantime, Golden Bear Cafe, Pizzeria 1868, Bear Market, CKCub and the Den will be closed through at least Feb. 8 in accordance with the sequester period, the Cal Housing email from Monday adds.

Though UC Berkeley understands that some students may wish to leave campus temporarily or permanently, travel is strongly advised against, according to the Monday student affairs email. Students should contact their hall staff if they “urgently” need to leave their floor.

“Be mindful that returning to other locations can create a risk of exposing others, even if your last test had a negative result,” the student affairs email states. “Further, if you do choose to leave campus, be aware you will not be able to return to campus for at least two weeks per public health directives.”

According to the email, residential life staff will be reaching out to students with more information.

The student affairs email Tuesday provided more information for students who choose to leave campus housing.

Those who leave temporarily, the email states, should self-sequester for seven to 10 days upon arrival at their destination and must also sequester for 10 days upon their return to campus. They will, however, still be responsible for room and board fees while away.

Those who leave permanently will not be able to cancel their housing contract until March 1. After that, they may receive a partial refund of housing and dining fees but must also pay the $300 early cancelation fee, according to the email.

UC Berkeley student affairs also asks that students with jobs or work-study inform their supervisors of the sequester period and either work remotely or request COVID-19 or administrative leave.

Check back for updates.

Veronica Roseborough is a deputy news editor. Contact her at [email protected] and follow her on Twitter at @v_roseborough.