Following campus efforts to limit COVID-19 cases and increase the availability of vaccines, UC Berkeley announced that the default mode of instruction for the fall 2021 semester will be mostly in person.
All classes will be delivered remotely for the first week of instruction to allow students and staff to get tested after returning to campus for the semester, according to a campuswide email from Chancellor Carol Christ on Tuesday. Following the first week of instruction, the email added, most classes with enrollments below 200 students will be held in person.
Larger classes with 200 or more students enrolled — which make up 5% of all courses offered — will continue to be delivered remotely, the email stated. Discussions and lab sections associated with those classes will mostly be offered in person, but some sections will still continue to be offered remotely.
“As a residential campus, UC Berkeley generally expects students and instructors to be present on campus to participate in classes and this will once again be the case this fall,” Christ said in the email.
The email noted that while current plans to return to in-person instruction assume less restrictive public health regulations, some measures will still remain in effect in the fall and students will still be urged to participate in surveillance testing regularly.
While campus remains optimistic about the return to in-person instruction in the fall, the email added that plans hinged upon students getting vaccinated as soon as possible and the number of daily cases reaching nearly zero.
Despite a falling number of campus case counts and positivity rates, a large number of campus community members have not been vaccinated, according to the email. The email emphasized the need for students and staff to continue following public health guidelines, particularly through spring break.
“Each new case of COVID-19 represents the possibility of more lives lost and one more opportunity for the virus to mutate, possibly rendering current vaccination efforts less effective and prolonging the return to normal,” Christ said in the email. “Please, do your part to slow the spread and to protect one another, especially when considering spring break plans.”
Although the primary mode of instruction will be in person, the email acknowledged that some students will be unable to return to campus next semester and aimed to address some possible alternatives.
The email encouraged international students who are unable to return to campus in the fall to consult with the Berkeley International Office to identify and evaluate their options. Campus will continue to work with students unable to return due to serious medical conditions, according to the email, who will be able to contact the Disabled Students’ Program to help determine an appropriate course of action for the fall semester.
Campus will have more information on which classes will be made available to students enrolled remotely by the end of April, the email added. Discussions on research opportunities and lab density, access to campus resources including libraries, campus housing, student events and other parts of campus life are currently ongoing, according to the email.
“We want to once again acknowledge the profound impact this past year has had on all members of our campus community and recognize the disproportionate impact it has had on many communities,” Christ said in the email. “Thank you for your continued flexibility, resilience and vigilance.”