October 22, 2020 - IMPORTANT: Thanksgiving Holiday Travel

The Vice Chancellor for Student Affairs, Stephen C. Sutton sent the following message to all undergraduate and graduate students on 10/22/20:

 

With Thanksgiving quickly approaching, we’re reaching out today to provide guidance about holiday travel so that we can keep our community as safe as possible. This year, the Thanksgiving holiday is scheduled for Thursday, Nov. 26 through Sunday, Nov. 29, with a non-instructional day on Wednesday, Nov. 25. 

For those of you living on or near campus, we strongly recommend that you consider remaining in Berkeley for the Thanksgiving holiday, or returning home and remaining there through the end of the semester.

As you make any holiday plans, we advise discussing your travel options with your family, friends, and community beforehand. Things you should consider:

  • With cases on the rise in many areas of the United States - and on the decline here in Berkeley - travel, especially using mass transit, is likely to expose you to more risk than staying local.  Public health experts strongly recommend limiting travel to essential activities.
  • With at least a quarter of COVID cases being asymptomatic, you may unwittingly infect or be infected by family members or others outside of your Berkeley bubble. The more you travel back and forth, the higher the risk of infection for you and for others, some of whom may be at an increased risk of becoming seriously ill with COVID-19.

Below we have instructions for students depending on their Thanksgiving holiday plans. We also wish to emphasize that this semester and time of year can be very stressful, with many students reporting increased anxiety. Visit the Counseling and Psychological Services (CAPS) website to learn even more about resources available to you. You can call CAPS at (510) 642-9494, or call the after hours counseling line (855) 817-5667. If you have questions about accessing available resources, even remotely or in places outside of California, University Health Services staff can assist you. You can also read more about wellness resources at Berkeley Life.

If you are staying in Berkeley, we suggest that you find unique ways to celebrate the holiday with your residential household grouping. Campus residence halls and apartments will be open through the Thanksgiving holiday period, and our Cal Dining and Residential Life staff are hard at work planning meals and programming so that residents can celebrate the holiday. (We’ll provide more specific guidance to students in campus residence halls and apartments in a separate communication.)

If you are currently living in the Berkeley area and do decide to travel for Thanksgiving and return to campus afterward, please note the campus’s expectations regarding testing and self sequestering:

  • Students living in residence halls will be required to continue to do regular COVID-19 surveillance testing twice a week. Please note that you should only depart if your last test before Thanksgiving is negative. When you return, you will be expected to resume biweekly testing immediately  upon arrival and self sequester for the first 7 days after your return and until your first two test results come back negative. 
  • Students living in on-campus apartments are strongly recommended to continue to do regular COVID-19 surveillance testing once a week. Please note that you should only depart if your last test before Thanksgiving is negative. When you return, we ask that you  test upon arrival and self sequester for the first 7 days and until at least one test result comes back negative. 
  • Students living in group housing such as CalGreeks housed fraternities and sororities, or Berkeley Student Cooperative (Co-Ops) are strongly encouraged to continue surveillance testing twice per week and only depart if your last test before Thanksgiving is negative. When you return, we strongly recommend you resume biweekly testing immediately upon arrival and self sequester for the first 7 days after your return and until your first two test results come back negative. 
  • Students living in non-campus housing are strongly encouraged to continue surveillance testing once per week and only depart if your last test before Thanksgiving is negative. When returning to campus, you are strongly recommended to test upon arrival and self sequester for the first 10 days after you return and until at least one test result comes back negative.

We also recommend that all students traveling home for more than a few days self-sequester for a week after arrival then test, if possible, and await a negative result before interacting with family and friends, especially those who may be at higher risk for serious COVID disease.

Additional Update for Students in Residence Halls - Contact Tracing, Isolation, and Quarantine for Students in Campus Housing:
Contact tracing, rapid isolation of COVID cases, and timely quarantine and testing of exposed individuals are vital public health tools that can help slow the spread of infectious diseases such as COVID-19. The sooner health officials can alert close contacts, the lower the risk of the COVID-19 virus spreading further within our housing units and elsewhere within the campus community. Residents are required to adhere to these measures in order to comply with City of Berkeley public health orders, the Student Code of Conduct, and your housing contract. This page outlines the processes involved when a student in campus residence halls and apartments tests positive for COVID-19, or has had close contact with someone who has tested positive.

I know this is a lot of information for you to digest, and I wish you well on making the decision that works best for you and your family. Stay safe and healthy, Bears.