UC Berkeley outlines fall semester plans for students amid COVID-19 pandemic

Berkeley - California, California, San Francisco - California, USA, UC Berkeley

University of California at Berkeley officials on Wednesday outlined the school's plans for re-opening for the fall semester, including small in-person class sizes and an intent to house up to 6,500 students on campus.

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 sent a message to the school's undergraduate students explaining several options during the COVID-19 coronavirus pandemic.

While in-person classes will be limited to small numbers, students will be allowed to take nearly every class remotely during the semester if they choose. All large lecture classes will only be offered remotely, according to the university.

The school will also transition to full remote instruction after the Thanksgiving holiday due to concerns about students traveling and visiting family. As a result, the semester's final exams will be given remotely.

"All of the unknowns make for a very challenging planning environment, and ultimately we must be prepared at very short notice to reduce or limit on-campus activities and move to fully remote teaching should pandemic conditions worsen at any point before the end of fall semester," the university officials said in their message to students. 

On-campus student housing will be prioritized for several categories of students such as those who have already signed housing contracts, students who have no estimated financial contribution for the fall semester, students with documented disabilities necessitating an on-campus residence, and student athletes.

Christ, Alivisatos, Sutton and Vice Provost for Graduate Studies Lisa Garcia Bedolla also outlined plans for graduate students during the fall semester, many of them similar to those for undergraduate students.

Graduate students, like undergraduates, will not be required to take in-person classes and many classes will be offered remotely in some form. Instruction will also be fully remote after Thanksgiving for graduate students.

Graduate student instructors who planned to teach classes during the semester are advised to contact the class' faculty member while students in master's and professional degree programs are advised to consult their individual programs about fall semester plans.

University officials plan to hold a discussion for students and their families on June 25 from 5-6 p.m. about the school's reopening plans. Details on the virtual discussion can be found online.

"(W)e are looking forward to welcoming you to our UC Berkeley community in whatever way that makes sense for you," university officials said. "Our typical back-to-school mode will be altered, to be sure, but our commitment to your academic success and your personal growth is unwavering."