Lisa García Bedolla, vice provost for graduate studies and dean of the graduate division, Catherine Koshland, vice chancellor for undergraduate education, Stephen Sutton, vice chancellor for student affairs, sent the following message to students on Thursday:
We understand that many students have questions about campus plans for the fall 2020 semester. We wish to share information with you as proactively as possible while we carefully observe the progress of the current pandemic.
Like universities around the world, we are working towards making critical decisions for the coming academic year in this evolving situation. We have an FAQ website that we will update as more details are announced.
In-person vs. remote instruction decisions
We will not cancel the fall semester. We are working closely with our local public health officials to determine when we will resume in-person instruction. At this time we don’t have an estimated date. Some or all instruction for all or part of Academic Year 2020-2021 may be delivered via remote instructio n. We do not know exactly when these decisions will be made because the public health picture remains uncertain. We are monitoring the situation closely and will make a decision about the fall semester as soon as there is enough information to do so. The health and safety of our students, faculty, and staff will always be our top priority.
Given the uncertainty the world faces, some students may not be able to safely travel to campus. We plan to continue to offer remote instruction as an option for Fall 2020, even if classes are held in-person.
We’re making every effort to minimize disruptions to our educational mission and recognize that many students are eager to return to campus as soon as possible. When we do resume in-person instruction, it will likely be a phased approach with certain types of classes considered more appropriate to resume in-person than others. We will also likely make changes within classrooms and laboratories to observe publ ic health directives and guidance such as increased hand washing, avoiding sharing equipment when possible, and recommendations on facial coverings and/or physical distancing. Decisions about broadly offering Passed/Not Passed (P/NP) or Satisfactory/Unsatisfactory (S/U) grading for fall semester will be made by the Academic Senate and will take into account the situation at the time. We appreciate your patience as we weigh these factors and gather more information about what the situation may be like in the fall.
Tuition and student fees for fall 2020
Tuition and mandatory fees have been set regardless of the method of instruction and will not be refunded in the event instruction occurs remotely for any part of the Academic Year. Mandatory university charges for tuition and student services continue to help cover ongoing operations such as the delivery of instruction and the cost of student services such as registration, financial aid, and remote academic advising.
Some campus-based fees were established to support certain efforts like the Wellness Fee which is paying for many essential health services. Others were established to maintain the safety of buildings or other facilities when necessary for the health and safety of students—e.g., to address seismic deficiencies. Even as UC campuses such as ours have curtailed limited aspects of their operations in response to the COVID-19 pandemic, many of the costs that campus-based fees are intended to cover will continue.
Student housing for fall 2020
Under normal operations, all new students receive priority for housing. It is not possible to know at this time whether the COVID-19 pandemic will allow for normal operations in student housing and residential life in Academic Year 2020-2021. Consequently, we cannot guarantee housing priority at this time but we are committed to supporting students if they want to liv e on or near campus.
For returning students, if fall classes are offered via remote instruction, we want to empower you to make the best decision for you and your family. We will keep the residential halls and apartments open as they are the primary residence for many students, unless we are required by public health authorities to close them. To date, we have not received any such closure order. If you do choose to live in University owned or affiliated housing, we will allow students the opportunity to be relieved of the financial obligations of their housing and applicable dining contracts and receive a prorated refund if the campus doesn’t resume in-person instruction during the 2020-2021 academic year or ends in-person instruction for an extended period of time (for example, in-person instruction is cancelled for more than 30 consecutive instructional days).
For off-campus housing, students should pay close attention to the terms o f their lease. Most off-campus leases will not provide prorated refunds if students leave mid-lease. Consider trying to negotiate with the landlord for a month-to-month lease. This will give you more flexibility. Given the circumstances, some landlords may be more willing to negotiate. Learn more about leases at sa.berkeley.edu/legal/tipsheet/leases.
We thank you for your understanding and resilience during these challenging and uncertain times. We are committed to providing students with the best educational experience possible and we will continue to inform you of the latest developments for the coming fall.