December 7, 2020 - Winter Break Travel Considerations

The Stephen C. Sutton, Ed.D., Vice Chancellor for Student Affairs; Anna Harte, MD, Medical Director; and Guy Nicolette, MD, CAQSM, Assistant Vice Chancellor, sent the following message to all undergraduate and graduate students on 12/7/20:


We hope your final stretch of the semester is going well. With the winter holidays and break approaching, and with new public health directives in California, we have important updates and reminders to help you make informed plans for travel and returning to campus for those that will be doing so.

With many people planning holiday season travel, we wish to remind all students to be mindful of public health guidance and restrictions now in effect. Due to a rise in statewide COVID-19 cases, a Regional Stay Home Order was announced and will last through Jan. 4th, 2021. It prohibits private gatherings of any size (indoors or out), many types of operations except for critical infrastructure and retail, and requires 100% masking and physical distancing. Bay Area health jurisdictions, including the City of Berkeley and Alameda County, have adopted this stay at home order early due to escalating case counts in the region. 

According to our Academic Calendar, the fall semester officially ends Friday, December 18, 2020. The spring 2021 semester will begin Tuesday, January 12, 2021, with instruction beginning - fully remote for the first two weeks - on Tuesday, January 19. (Students living in residential halls should await Cal Housing messages that will be shared with them with specific January move-in instructions.)

Holiday season travel and gatherings: We recognize that the majority of our students living in our campus residences are planning to travel to their families or other homes for the winter break, and also plan to return in January. Please be aware that many public health experts are asking everyone to stay home and avoid absolutely all social gatherings with those that they do not presently live with. In fact, our campus has had a recent surge in cases linked to holiday gatherings, with a total number of cases since Thanksgiving equaling all of those seen in October and November combined. The campus encourages individuals planning travel for the purpose of gathering with family members to confirm on the date of departure that both the travel and the multi-household gathering that the travel enables is permitted by the local public health restrictions in effect in Berkeley (or the other Bay Area location where they presently live) and in the location to which they are traveling. Students planning to return to their present address should also confirm before they leave that their planned travel is permitted by the orders or restrictions in effect for their points of departure and arrival.

  • Students living in residence halls, suites and apartments* will be required to continue to do regular COVID-19 surveillance testing twice weekly (Mon/Thurs or Tues/Fri) until they depart campus and resume immediately upon return in January (*this does not apply to residents of University Village). 
  • If you travel, you should only depart if your last test before departure is negative. If you live in campus housing and you test positive prior to winter break, you will need to be placed into isolation housing per City of Berkeley public health orders. If you have had close contact with someone who tested positive with COVID-19, you will be required to move to quarantine housing until you have been cleared by UHS. Learn more about contact tracing, quarantine and isolation housing.
  • If you return to on-campus housing in January, you will be expected to resume twice weekly (Mon/Thurs or Tues/Fri) 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. 
  • Please continue to follow protocols such as physical distancing and wearing face coverings! (For more, visit: You can always visit the campus website for the latest details.  

Students planning to stay in Berkeley over winter break: All campus residence halls, except Martinez Commons Residence Hall, will be closed over winter break. Campus apartments will remain open, as will the campus' quarantine/isolation housing units. All Cal Dining locations will be closed from December 20th, 2020 through January 11th, 2021 (although food will still be served for those in quarantine/isolation housing). 

If you need a place to stay during the winter break on an emergency basis, please contact Cal Housing as soon as possible at Cal Housing partners with various campus departments, including the Basic Needs Center, the Financial Aid and Scholarships Office, and the Student Advocates Office, to meet students’ needs during this time. 

Thank you for your understanding and cooperation and we appreciate all students who are abiding by best practices. Together, we can help reduce virus transmission. We hope you have a restful winter break and have healthy holidays, despite these unprecedented circumstances.