UC Berkeley community expresses concern over lack of hybrid course options

Photo of full lecture hall
Allen Zeng/File
With the return of in-person instruction, students are expressing concerns about the lack of recorded lectures and hybrid learning for some campus courses amid the COVID-19 pandemic.

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In light of an uptick in local COVID-19 cases, students are vocalizing concerns about returning to in-person classes without a campus requirement for professors to record lectures.

According to University Health Services’ COVID-19 testing dashboard, last week marked a 227% increase in undergraduate positive cases compared to the previous week. However, the Chancellor’s Office announced Aug. 12 it will not ask professors to offer hybrid learning platforms, leaving students questioning the consequences of such a policy.  

“Instructors have been encouraged to be flexible,” said Oliver O’Reilly, the interim vice provost for undergraduate education, in an email. “Simultaneously delivering an in-person lecture and a remote option is very challenging and not ideal for many courses.”

Campus rising sophomore XiLin Choi expressed concern that professors teaching in-person classes may not offer sufficient accommodations in the case that a student cannot attend class due to possible exposure to COVID-19.

Choi added that students unsure about their potential exposure may still attend their classes out of fear of falling behind, which could cause the virus to “spread like wildfire.”

“Lectures should be recorded for multiple reasons, most importantly, accessibility reasons,” said ASUC Senator Stephanie Wong. “Everyone has very different circumstances, and I think having accessible options on hand, like recorded lectures, and one-on-one office hours would greatly address the individual and the varying needs of our students.”

Choi and Wong both noted that the administration’s policy on what students are expected to do in case they test positive remains unclear.

Additionally, some members of the campus community have criticized testing policy for vaccinated individuals, which requires that vaccinated students, faculty and staff have at least one negative test result at a campus test site since the pandemic began in order to access campus for 180 days.

“We need to improve the surveillance testing,” said campus computer science lecturer Nicolas Weaver in an email. “The current model is basically don’t test after vaccination. [With] Delta we should probably test 1-10% of everybody on campus once a week, randomly selected, to detect if we do have internal spread.”

In her senatorial office, Wong plans to set an example for the wider community by encouraging her office members to participate in weekly testing and only hosting outdoor events.

ASUC Academic Affairs Vice President James Weichert said his office has spent the summer preparing various plans and policies to prevent COVID-19 spread during in-person instruction.

According to Weichert, if campus does not provide clear and well-enforced policies to prevent the spread of COVID-19, “it will really be on students to stay safe.”

“If we are not disciplined and we are not safe in these next two weeks or so, we are very seriously risking the fate of the rest of the semester in person,” Weichert said. “It is really incumbent upon us students to stay safe.”

Rachel Raps is a race and diversity reporter. Contact her at [email protected], and follow her on Twitter at @rachelraps_dc.