August 19, 2020 - Fall Semester Testing & Health Practices On Campus

The Vice Chancellor for Student Affairs, Stephen C. Sutton; Assistant Vice Chancellor - University Health Services, Guy Nicolette; Medical Director - University Health Services, Anna Harte, M.D., sent the following message to all undergraduate and graduate students on 08/19/20:

No matter where you are, your wellbeing is our top concern. 

We have shared a lot of health and wellness campus information with you over the summer, but we thought it might help to organize it here. We’ve included many specific links and information, and you can also consult the University Health Services Coronavirus webpage for updates and more information.

No matter where you live, please follow the Centers for Disease Control (CDC) and local public health guidelines. We strongly encourage you to err on the side of caution (even if facial coverings aren't required where you are, it's a good idea to wear one). You can find COVID-19 resources and policies, including necessary health and safety precautions and how to obtain more information from health care providers, state health authorities, and a link to the CDC's COVID-19 website, on the UC Berkeley Coronavirus website.


All UC Berkeley students will need to accept the Keep Berkeley Healthy Pledge in CalCentral. The pledge will be posted beginning August 21 and students will need to complete it by September 18. The pledge creates a shared understanding of the expectations in our community and helps us hold each other accountable for the measures that will be taken to protect the community. Students who do not acknowledge reviewing the pledge will not be permitted on campus or other UC Berkeley property. For students moving into the campus residence halls later this week, they have the same due date of September 18. The expectations for living in the halls are outlined in the Residential Code of Conduct. Students will be required to comply with all city and county public health orders.


Testing is required for on campus residence hall students on the day of your scheduled move-in prior to receiving your keys, after a 7-10 day self-sequester period, then initially twice per week throughout the fall 2020 semester. Regular testing helps the community identify and address potential COVID outbreaks before they have a chance to spread and is especially important for identifying infectious asymptomatic individuals. This testing will be free of charge, regardless of your insurance. On-campus residence hall students have received an email about where to go to get tested and how to make an appointment for the initial move-in test; guidance regarding ongoing surveillance testing will be communicated shortly.

Students living near campus in private homes, apartments and residences will not be required to be tested at present. Surveillance testing is usually not covered by insurance but if it is available to you, we do recommend it. You can use online tools to find testing sites near you (eligibility differs by location, read carefully). We are working to expand our testing capacity and will let you know when campus provided surveillance testing can be expanded to students living in off campus housing in the local area.


For any student experiencing symptoms or who may have been exposed to COVID-19 (or any students with concerns), please call the University Health Services Advice Line 24/7 at 510-643-7197 for consultation or an appointment. You can also call if you are unsure if you need to be seen. If you feel significantly ill, requiring assessment within our COVID tent, stop by the Durant side of the University Health Services building, Monday through Friday, 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. For those living outside the Berkeley area or needing assistance outside of business hours, you may need to go directly to the nearest emergency room.

You do NOT need to be enrolled in the Student Health Insurance Program (SHIP) to get tested or be assessed by UHS. There is no out-of-pocket cost to be tested at UHS, it is covered by the university and/or insurance as part of the public health and safety measures to stop the spread of coronavirus. All testing requires a clinician’s orders. If you have tested positive through another medical provider or testing location, please call the University Health Services CONFIDENTIAL line at 510-643-8227 to inform our clinical teams, to help us support you and guide our campus. 


Prevention of infection and quarantine once exposed continue to be our main tools against this virus absent a vaccine. 

Face coverings: When on campus, physical distancing and wearing facial coverings are required at all times (exceptions for students living on campus when in their private residence). 

Off campus in the city of Berkeley, everyone is required to have a face covering visible and ready to use when they are outside their home, and to wear it over their nose and mouth whenever they are within 30 feet of other people. The 30 foot requirement - roughly the length of a row of three small cars - is intended to allow for adequate time to put on your face covering before others come within 6 feet. This standard applies when even walking or exercising outdoors alone or with members of your household.

Daily symptom screener: Essential student researchers and student workers who must work on campus are required to complete a symptom screener every day before entering campus. As we are permitted to open more campus spaces, students will only be allowed to enter these spaces if they have accepted the Keep Berkeley Healthy Pledge on Cal Central and completed the daily symptoms screener. Residential spaces do not require a daily symptom screener but we do encourage it. You can access the Daily Symptom Screener in one of a variety of ways:

Online training module: Essential student researchers and student workers who must work on campus are required to take a 10 minute online training (consult your PI or your supervisor for details). In the coming weeks, all students who will be on campus, including residential students, will be required to take a similar training. Stay tuned for additional information about this important training.

Other campus requirements: The campus will clearly communicate what is required on campus and will provide students with the support they need to comply. You can find more about best practices to avoid COVID-19 here.

We will start the semester fully remotely. You should come to campus only if you have a specific need (such as seeking medical attention or other emergency services, visiting the grab-and-go food pantry, conducting essential in-person research or other essential campus work, and of course moving into campus housing). If public health conditions improve and we can open facilities to students, we will provide updated guidance. 

Refusing to comply with campus requirements will result in consequences that could include being excluded from campus altogether. Student organizations are prohibited from holding any in-person activity or meeting, regardless of the location. Student organizations who violate campus guidance, even when on private property, can be unrecognized and lose their privileges. For more information, please review the Temporary Provision on Misconduct Related to COVID-19 available on the Center for Student Conduct website.

Off campus, the city can impose fines and even cite people for failing to comply with public health orders.

Self-sequestering: Students living in the residence halls will be required to self-sequester for 7-10 days with testing before and after. We have provided students a list of what is allowed/not-allowed during the sequester period, but generally sequestering means minimizing in-person interactions among students, faculty and staff, in this case, in the residential halls and dining facilities. Students should leave their residences only to participate in essential activities (e.g., to purchase food, participate in solo low-risk outdoor recreational activities, or obtain health care services), following all public health guidance. This is not a time for in-person socializing, even in common areas with those living with you.

While students living off campus are not required to self-sequester/test, we recommend you do so - or quarantine for 14 days - any time you switch living locations, arrive in Berkeley from outside the Bay Area, and in particular after any air travel, in accordance with CDC guidelines.  As such, visiting family and friends for the weekend is not advisable.

Social bubbles and residential household grouping: For outdoor gatherings only, the current public health order allows you to form “social bubbles” of 10 to 12 people, with restrictions stating that people can only participate in one bubble at a time. When switching social bubbles, we advise an initial self-sequester or quarantine period (see above). Refer to the City of Berkeley’s COVID-19 information page for more details. Student organizations of any size will not be considered a social bubble and are prohibited from gathering in-person, on or off campus. 

For students living locally off campus, your household members (your family or your roommates) should be your primary social bubble. The 10 to 12 people guidance is a limit, not a goal, and the smaller you keep your bubble, the better.

For students living in campus residence halls, we will assign students to residential household groupings of up to 10-12 students. The groupings will be based on proximity (for example, students sharing the same floor of their residence hall). These assigned groupings will be the social bubbles for campus residents, and will allow residents to gather outdoors with their assigned residential household grouping as their social bubble (but with no one else). The campus will assign these groupings (residential students are not allowed to create their own).

All students must adhere to public health orders, even when interacting within groupings.

Parents, visitors and guests: For on campus properties, state guidelines prohibit visitors. Up to two parents/supporters can assist their student during move in and move out. Exceptions will also be granted for students with accessibility or care needs, students in distress, or with other special needs. Family members and supporters who reside with their students or provide caregiving or other support in on campus housing are permitted. Otherwise, parents, supporters, guests and visitors are not permitted and should stay away from campus.

Notification and contact tracing: Coronavirus is widespread throughout the United States. You can track the UC Berkeley coronavirus dashboard to check new cases and trends on campus. 

It is understandable that you may want to know if someone near you tested positive. Generally, we cannot disclose that information. Under federal health privacy law, we are not able to release identifying personal information, and individuals are not compelled to share this information. 

That being said, University Health Services will engage in rigorous contact tracing and notify individuals and groups that have had close contact with people who have tested positive. They will also work with Environment, Health & Safety to guide appropriate cleaning and disinfection of affected areas. In most cases, you will only be notified if the contract tracers determined you were in close contact (more than 15 minutes of contact within 6-feet distance) with the individual who tested positive. Simply working or living in the same building with someone who recently tested positive does not put you at higher risk for getting the virus. In most cases, your risk would be no greater than your everyday risk posed by community spread. In most cases when students cooperate with University Health Services and public health measures, information gathered during contact tracing will not be used in any disciplinary action.

The university will continue to monitor the situation on campus, and may issue additional emergency notifications to the campus community if there is a significant change. All UC Berkeley email addresses are automatically registered to receive emergency notifications. You can view or edit your UC Berkeley email address via the CalNet directory, or add your cell phone number to receive text alerts on the UC Berkeley WarnMe web site.


Get help: If you think you may be sick, call the Advice Line (24/7) at 510-643-7197. If you are in the local area, they can help you get services at University Health Services or other providers as appropriate. If you are away from campus, University Health Services may advise you on getting services where you are, if needed. If you are having difficulty breathing or other severe symptoms, you should seek help at the nearest emergency room. 

Slow the spread: Please remain home and avoid contact with anyone - include those in your living situation. As much as possible, stay in a specific room and away from other people and pets. If possible, you should use a separate bathroom. The university is setting aside isolation and quarantine facilities in the Foothills residential complex. The isolation and quarantine facilities are for students diagnosed with COVID-19 and exhibiting mild symptoms, or for those awaiting the results of their test. Staff will assist students in getting essentials such as meals. Onsite medical care is not provided, however the COVID Response Nurses at UHS will stay in close contact with students within these units by phone, and University Health Services offers many of its regular services via phone or video. Students with severe symptoms, such as difficulty breathing, should be in a medical facility. University Health Services can assist students in determining where they should be.

You will not be required to leave campus just because you test positive; however, if you test positive you will be required to adhere to public health guidelines including providing information to assist with contact tracing. University Health Services will provide guidance. If you test positive, you will be able to resume activities once University Health Services confirms you have recovered and are no longer infectious.


Please visit the Academic Accommodations Hub if you require academic accommodations because of COVID-19 (illness, hardship, etc.). 

Download the latest version of UC Berkeley Mobile App from the Apple App Store or Google Play Store. It provides easy access to tools you need like the Daily Symptom Screener, COVID-19 testing options, and other information to help you navigate the physical campus safely.


To support the health and well-being of our communities and avoid overwhelming our medical providers, the University of California has issued a systemwide executive order requiring all members of the UC community to receive an influenza immunization before Nov. 1, 2020. More information will be provided as we get closer to the deadline.

We are excited to start the fall semester with you. We have spent all summer preparing and we know that if we can come together as a community, we can help slow the spread. Be well, Bears!