University of California, K-12 public schools should be open in the fall

FILE ART - University of California at Berkeley

The University of California president told the Board of Regents that  “every campus will be open and offering instruction” this fall despite the coronavirus outbreak that has shuttered most campus activity across the state.

“The question will be how much of that instruction is in-person versus how much is done remotely,” Janet Napolitano said in her Wednesday remarks.

Napolitano said she “anticipates that most, if not all of our campuses, will operate in some kind of hybrid mode," which means a mixture of online education and in-classroom learning. 

The UC system, which includes UC Berkeley, UCLA and UC Santa Cruz among its 10 campuses, is taking a different approach than California State University.

Last week, that university system announced it’s moving to online-only instruction for the fall. In a Q&A with EdSource, the chancellor explained he wanted to prepare for the worst and have all the instructors ready on the technology needed to conduct virtual classes. 

Napolitano indicated that each UC campus would be required to “meet system-wide thresholds” for COVID-19 testing, contact tracing and isolation before being allowed to open.

Once the standards are met, campuses “can consider whether to maintain fully remote instruction in the fall or return some portion of their students to campus.”

A decision is expected in the middle of June.

Also on Wednesday, California Supt. of Schools Tony Thurmond said he expects school for the state’s 6 million K-12 students to resume as usual in late August or September but with classes that look radically different to maintain social distancing standards.

Thurmond said he expects a mix of in-person and distance learning with fewer children in classes, hallways and other common areas as campuses try to halt the spread of the coronavirus. Students will likely wear masks, as will teachers and staff.

The Associated Press contributed to this report.