Fall 2020 FAQs

 

  1. Will fall classes be held in-person or via remote instruction?
  2. Will the fall semester be canceled?
  3. When will a decision about fall semester be made?
  4. Will I still have to pay for tuition or student fees if I’m not physically on campus?
  5. Will orientation still be held?
  6. If fall classes are offered via remote instruction, should I live in Berkeley?
  7. What if I can’t make it back to campus when in-person instruction resumes?
  8. If classes are via remote instruction again, will they be P/NP?

 


 

Will fall classes be held in-person or via remote instruction?

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 instruction. 

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 public health directives and guidance such as increased hand washing, avoiding sharing equipment when possible, and recommendations on facial coverings or social distancing. The health and safety of our students, faculty and staff will always be our top priority.

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Will the fall semester be canceled?

If we are prohibited from engaging in in-person instruction by the start of the fall semester, or it is otherwise not appropriate to carry out in-person instruction, then classes will be delivered via remote instruction until our local public health officials determine when we may be able to resume in-person activities and we determine that in-person instruction is appropriate. We will not cancel the fall semester.

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When will a decision about fall semester be made?

We do not know exactly when these decisions will be made because the public health picture remains uncertain. We understand that students need to make decisions about housing for the fall so we are offering flexibility (see below). 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. We’re also 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. We appreciate your patience as we weigh these factors and gather more information about what the situation may be like in the fall. 

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Will I still have to pay for tuition or student fees if I’m not physically on campus?

Some or all instruction for all or part of Academic Year 2020-2021 may be delivered via remote instruction. 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. There has never before been such a widespread and rapid shift to remote instruction across disciplines. Methods continue to evolve as faculty share best practices and students give feedback. However, at our core, the university’s instruction still remains based on the knowledge, expertise and experience of our top-quality faculty members as the foundation for student instruction regardless of the delivery method. Even if they are not on campus, students are generally able to access all required instructional materials, complete their coursework, and make timely progress towards their degree. Students are continuing to earn full credit for their coursework, and university-wide charges like tuition, the student services fee, and nonresident supplemental tuition continue to help cover the faculty’s delivery of instruction, other educational costs, and the cost of essential 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. 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 continue. Debt service for student facilities and the need to maintain campus infrastructure, for example, continue.  The fact that campus-based fees would in part be paid by all students who do not individually benefit from the fees was discussed in referrenda documents considered by the students who voted to authorize that these fees be charged to future students.

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Will orientation still be held?

The overall Golden Bear Experience consists of four major components: Golden Bear Advising and Golden Bear Prep (both completed online, before you arrive) and Golden Bear Orientation and Getting Your Bearings (in-person programs, completed once you’re here). Golden Bear Advising and Golden Bear Prep will continue as scheduled. We are working closely with our local public health officials to determine when we may be able to resume in-person activities. Golden Bear Orientation and Getting Your Bearings events will be held in-person. If there are changes to the Fall 2020 semester, programming will shift to a future semester. Based on guidance from local public health officials at the time, programming may be adjusted, such as reducing the size of gatherings, so that we can comply with that guidance.

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If fall classes are offered via remote instruction, should I live in Berkeley?

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 result in changes 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 live 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). Please note that if there are changes to the Fall 2020 semester, the date or process for moving into campus housing may also be adjusted. We will share more information as we have it.

For off campus housing, students should pay close attention to the terms of 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.

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What if I can’t make it back to campus when in person instruction resumes?

Given the uncertainty the world faces, some students may not be able to safely travel to campus. Even if in-person classes resume, we will accommodate students who require a remote learning option. We will offer a large set of virtual courses to ensure that remote learners can advance their educational goals.

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If classes are via remote instruction again, will they be P/NP?

The Academic Senate modified the grading policy for the spring 2020 semester to default to Passed/Not Passed (P/NP) for undergraduates. Graduate students were given the option to switch to Satisfactory/Unsatisfactory (S/U) grading and graduate programs were permitted to increase the fraction of S/U courses that can count toward degree requirements beyond the existing cap. This was in response to the mid-semester disruption of transitioning to remote instruction and the stress of the rapidly developing pandemic. Decisions for fall will be made by the Academic Senate and will take into account the situation at the time. Our goal is to best support students in their academic journey.

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