June 18, 2020 - Campus Recovery Plans - Student Experience Fall 2020

The Vice Chancellor for Student Affairs, Stephen C. Sutton; Vice Provost for Graduate Studies and Dean of the Graduate Division, Lisa García Bedolla; Vice Chancellor for Undergraduate Education, Catherine P. Koshland; and Vice Chancellor for Equity & Inclusion, Oscar Dubon, sent the following message to all undergraduate and graduate students on 06/18/20:


Under usual circumstances, the transition to fall semester is full of excitement and anticipation, and timely and clear information is critical. Of course, this is not a normal circumstance and this coming academic year presents a unique set of challenges. As you may have seen from the recent emails from UC Berkeley Chancellor Carol Christ (undergraduate message, graduate message), recent important decisions have been made, including that we will be welcoming a limited number of students to campus this fall to live in our residence halls, and that there will be limited in-person instruction (details listed below), subject to approval from local public health authorities. 

We are committed to supporting your student experience in every aspect of life at, and away from, UC Berkeley. We will continue to assist you during this challenging time and are reaching out today to provide you with important updates on key student services (including housing and dining options) for Fall 2020.

As a reminder, please continue to check your Berkeley email as you will continue to receive further important updates as we approach the fall semester. It is also important to note that the COVID-19 pandemic is an ever-changing matter, and may require changes to our current plans based upon the latest guidance from public health officials. Your safety and well-being are of paramount importance. 

We understand that this semester will present many unique challenges. We remain steadfast in our commitment to ensuring you have the best possible educational experience this fall, and all our Student Affairs team is here to serve you and help with any questions or concerns you may have. We are in this with you every step of the way.



Financial Aid: We remain committed to supporting students with comprehensive financial aid, especially during this challenging and uncertain time. We are here to support you and resources are available. UC Berkeley is committed to keeping the overall cost of a Berkeley education as low as possible, and we offer financial aid to assist students in covering the estimated total cost of attendance (housing, tuition, books, food needs, and more). We are prepared to support students and families whose financial circumstances have been impacted by the current global economic crisis. It’s not too late to apply for financial aid. If you have any questions or wish to work with our team to learn more about your financial aid options, contact Cal Student Central by phone at 510-664-9181 or create a case online. The Cal Student Central phone line is open Monday through Friday, from 9 a.m. to 12 p.m., and from 1p.m. to 4 p.m.. 

Please note, UC Berkeley is not able to offer in-state tuition for nonresidents. The difference in tuition for residents versus nonresidents is a reflection of the significant investment by California taxpayers in the University of California system. For graduate students seeking to establish California residency, please see the updated UC Provost amendments in light of COVID-19 mitigation efforts.

Instruction and Courses: As we made clear yesterday, it is our intention to conduct some in-person classes this fall for those students who wish to come to campus. Students will not be required to take in-person classes or be present on campus to take classes; almost all academic offerings will be provided via a remotely delivered method. We are in the process of determining which courses will have an in-person option this fall and will have our course schedule available in July.

For more information, see the recent messages from the Chancellor for undergraduates and for graduates

Finally, as a reminder, to reduce COVID-19 exposure that could come about as a result of students traveling for the Thanksgiving holiday, all in-person instruction (as well as final exams) will be delivered remotely after Thanksgiving.

Technology Needs: The Student Tech Equity Program (STEP) is available to students who do not have access to the technology resources they need due to financial strain resulting from COVID-19. Apply now to be considered for a new computer, Wi-Fi hotspot, or other resources to support your studies in time for fall semester. 

Student Services, Academic Support, and Community & Belonging: Our teams are actively developing plans for how we provide the services and programs, academic support (including advising and tutoring), and community building in-person and remotely that make for a rich and inclusive student experience. We will provide services to students living and/or learning remotely and we are committed to ensuring students have access to the key in-person services they need, such as pick-up services for the Food Pantry, textbooks, Amazon store, and more. We also intend to develop a guide to help registered student organizations (RSOs) conduct their activities remotely. However, understand that we will likely be unable to offer many in-person student services and/or opportunities for in-person engagement, and that most campus buildings will be closed to student use (and that many campus staff members will be required to work remotely until at least much later in the semester). 

We are hosting a Campus Conversation on Thursday, June 25 from 5-6 p.m. Pacific time featuring senior campus leaders: Stephen C. Sutton, Vice Chancellor for Student Affairs; Oscar Dubon, Jr., Vice Chancellor of Equity & Inclusion; Lisa García Bedolla, Vice Provost for Graduate Studies and Dean of the Graduate Division; Catherine P. Koshland, Vice Chancellor for Undergraduate Education; and Sharon Inkelas, Special Faculty Advisor to the Chancellor on Sexual Violence/Sexual Harassment. The leaders will provide updates about the three working groups that are focusing on student engagement and services for the fall semester: Reintegration to the Physical Campus, Building Community & Belonging in Virtual Space, and Student Academic Support. We encourage you to take part in this conversation by submitting a question. We will incorporate student feedback into our plans and share more details later this summer. 

Update on August Golden Bear Orientation: In order to serve all students, most of the in-person components of Golden Bear Orientation will be transitioned to online events. The new online orientation programs occurring in August prior to the start of classes will include a combination of live and recorded content so that all students — whether in Berkeley or anywhere in the world — can participate. Learn more about plans for Fall 2020 GBO

Cal Housing:

On-campus housing will be provided at a lower population density to a limited number of students, with some rooms set aside for quarantine or isolation (for use if required). We do not anticipate any changes to housing density for graduate student apartments or family housing.

What will be open/operating:

  • We plan to house up to 6,500 students in our on-campus residence halls and undergraduate apartments in single and double rooms only. We will not offer living arrangements larger than two people per room to help prevent the transmission of COVID-19. We have posted our housing rates for the fall, if you wish to explore your options.

  • We will stagger student arrival to residence halls beginning in early August to avoid the typical crowded move-in experience.

  • We will reserve space in one of our housing complexes for quarantine and isolation purposes.

  • Students moving into residence halls will likely be required to undergo COVID-19 testing immediately prior to returning to campus and/or upon arrival to campus, and will be expected to isolate for 7-10 days after arriving on campus.

  • In the event of cancellations: Unless ordered otherwise by the public health officials, we presently intend to keep the residential halls and apartments open as they are the primary residence for many students. 

    • If you do choose to live in University housing, we will allow students the opportunity to cancel their housing contracts and 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 begins in-person instruction but then later ends in-person instruction for an extended period of time (for example, in-person instruction is cancelled for more than 30 consecutive instructional days). . 

    • If in-person instruction resumes in August or September, then we will not offer relief from contract obligations based upon the discontinuation of in-person instruction during the period between Thanksgiving and Winter Break. 

    • You will not be offered relief from your Spring housing contract obligations based upon periods that in-person instruction will not be offered, that are announced during the Fall semester.  

    • You will not be relieved of your contract obligations based upon your not being able to successfully register for any of the limited in-person instructional courses that will be offered.  

    • Contracts will otherwise run in full and only those cancellation requests that follow our standard process will be considered. 

Housing applicants - important note: You must complete the 2020-21 Housing Application Addendum Form by 11:59 p.m. on Wednesday, June 24 to indicate whether you still would like to receive a housing offer. Each applicant should have already received their own unique link in an email from Cal Housing. Given the challenges associated with this year’s housing process, late responses will not be accepted. If you complete the form by the deadline, you are not guaranteed to receive a housing offer, but we will notify you by mid-July whether you are receiving a housing offer. If you receive a housing offer, you will have approximately five to seven days to accept the offer.

Freshmen and new undergraduates transfer students:

  • Students are welcome to apply for our on-campus residence halls in single and double rooms; no living arrangements larger than two people to prevent the transmission of COVID-19. However, our ability to house all students this fall will be limited, and some students may need to explore alternatives (which our team can assist with). 

  • Live Remotely: We are empowering students to choose what works best for them, including continuing to live and study remotely. We recognize that studying remotely may not be desirable or possible for all students, but it may be the most desirable option to stay living away from Berkeley until the campus is able to resume operations typical of previous semesters.

  • Cal Rentals/Off-Campus Housing: If students need assistance with off-housing options, our team at Cal Rentals is waiting to assist, free of charge, in their search for additional off-campus housing options.

  • How we are prioritizing students in our residential halls: We regret that we are likely unable to provide housing for all of the many students who wish to live with us in campus housing. While we still encourage students seeking housing to apply, we are currently planning prioritization for returning students who have accepted housing contracts, and those students with the most needs for living physically on-campus, such as (but not limited to):

    • Students for whom living in Cal Housing is their self-selected best option

    • Students who have already signed housing contracts

    • Students with documented disabilities/need for housing accommodations

    • Students with Estimated Financial Contribution at $0

    • Berkeley Hope Scholars, Fiat Lux Scholars, and Regents’ and Chancellor’s scholars

    • Cultural/identity/living-learning housing programs (African American, Asian Pacific American, Casa Magdalena Mora, Native American, Unity LGBTQIA+ House, Empowering Women in STEM (WISE), Transfer Experience)

    • Student Athletes

Continuing students: Returning students are a priority for us to find housing solutions for, and we encourage continuing students (i.e., rising sophomores and beyond) to reach out to Cal Housing, if they haven’t already, to explore housing options. (Those in current contracts are being honored - we will not be canceling them.)

Graduate Students/Apartments: Learn more about our apartment-style living options.

Family housing: We will still have housing options for those students seeking family housing (for example those with children, spouses/partners, or other dependents). Learn more about our University Village housing options

Resources for Student Parents:The campus Student Parent Center remains a resource available for both undergraduate and graduate students. 

  • The Graduate Division is offering grants for graduate students caring for child or adult dependents: a Student Parent Grant and a Caregiver Grant. These grants may be applied toward housing and living expenses, dependent health insurance, and/or tuition. The deadline to apply for both grants is July 15, 2020. International students may apply for a need-based parent grant administered by the Berkeley International Office.

  • Additionally, students with dependents are eligible for 64 hours of subsidized back-up care if their child’s school is closed, or their regular caregiver is not available. Pre-register for this program online.

Reducing virus transmission in Student Affairs:

Face coverings: For students in the residential halls — you will not be required to wear a face covering when you are in your bedroom.  You may be required to use a face covering while using communal bathrooms in the residential hall to the extent that wearing one does not interfere with your hygiene activities such as teeth brushing and showering.  You will probably be required to wear a face covering in the hallways and common areas. 

A facial covering can be a bandana, scarf, or cloth mask that covers your mouth and nose (save N95 and medical masks for healthcare providers). Wearing a cloth face covering decreases the chances of transmitting the virus but is not a replacement for vigilant physical distancing. We acknowledge that wearing a facial covering presents unique challenges for marginalized communities. 

Cal Dining operations:

On-campus dining will be offered “to-go.” More details on specific operations will be announced in the near future. 

Meal plans options for students (on and off-campus):

For undergraduate and graduate students that will be living with us in campus housing, as well as those in the campus area who wish to enjoy our seasonal, plant-forward menus, we will have meal plan options for you

What dining options will likely look like:

Cal Dining remains committed to providing diverse food offerings that appeal to every palate. Our award winning program features a variety of choices, as well as options that fit a wide range of dietary, allergen, and religious accommodations. We have partnered with top chefs in the region to bring quality offerings to our locations. Our team is dedicated to ensuring a top level of cleanliness and sanitation, and reducing virus transmission.

You may notice some additional changes in your dining experience, including:

  • On-campus dining will be offered “to-go.” (More details on specific operations will be announced in the near future.)

  • No self-service stations can be allowed. 

  • Salad bars and similar options may not be possible to reduce virus transmission. 

  • Food will be served to students from our staff behind sneeze-guards to prevent transmission.

  • We will ask patrons to stand 6 feet apart from each other at all times (physical distancing). 

Be sure to keep up with the latest Cal Dining news at our website.