Fall 2020 information for faculty and staff

Chancellor Carol Christ and Executive Vice Chancellor and Provost Paul Alivisatos sent the following message to faculty, staff, graduate student instructors, and graduate student researchers on Wednesday:

We are writing to announce plans for fall semester, in which we are asking our community to resume limited on-campus research activities and engage in hybrid teaching with some amount of in-person teaching. We will have to work together across many dimensions to achieve this.

Before we share the details, we first want to acknowledge the unprecedented time in which we find ourselves: amidst a global pandemic and massive societal upheaval around racial justice. Both require our urgent attention and utmost care. As campus leaders, we remain committed to addressing both to the very best of our ability.

We want to thank you for all you have done to keep campus operations running during a challenging time in our history. The importance of our mission becomes ever more apparent during times like this; only through fidelity to our mission of research, teaching, and public service can we hope to address the most important - and vexing - issues of our time.

Protecting the Health of the Community

Our number one planning principle since the early days of the coronavirus pandemic has been to protect the health of our campus community.  As we look to increase the number of people working onsite and prepare for the fall semester, we want to share with you the health and safety measures we have implemented to reduce the spread of COVID-19 in the workplace.  We also want to tell you about how we envision each of our roles in helping to protect the health of our community, since we are all in this together.

The University’s health and safety measures include:

Limiting the number of people working and learning in buildings, particularly in our laboratories and classrooms, to facilitate physical distancing.

Review and acknowledge the UC Berkeley COVID-19 Health and Safety Guide for Returning to the Workplace. Complete a symptom screener for each day that you intend to work on site.

If we each implement the measures set forth in the online training and the Guide, and everyone on campus completes the daily symptom screener, the combined effect will help reduce the risk of spreading COVID-19, but they will not eliminate the risk entirely.

Fall Planning/Instruction and Residence Halls

Earlier today we shared this message with our undergraduate students and sent a similar message to graduate students, giving them the option to return to campus this fall to attend some small, in-person classes. A limited number of new and returning undergraduates in prioritized categories have also been invited to live in on-campus residence halls. To reduce COVID-19 exposure that could come about as a result of students traveling for the Thanksgiving holiday, all instruction (as well as final exams) will be delivered remotely after Thanksgiving.

We emphasized that the plans outlined above for campus activities and the residence halls are dependent on getting approval to proceed from local public health authorities.

Once specific in-person teaching plans are reviewed and approved, we will share them. In the meantime, more detail about instruction can be found on the campus coronavirus website (scroll down to the "Instruction" tab).

For faculty and graduate students preparing courses for the Fall 2020 semester, we encourage you to take advantage of instructional resources and support offered by Research, Teaching and Learning (RTL) Services. The Keep Teaching webpage has resources on best practices and effective strategies, including methods to improve your virtual classroom, tools and technology that support digital learning, procedures for requesting remote instruction equipment, and information on the Semester in the Cloud.

Units across RTL are also hosting a series of virtual workshops this summer on remote instruction strategies, tools for remote instruction, techniques to maximize in-class time and reduce Zoom fatigue, building class community, fostering student discussion, and other topics. Please visit the upcoming events webpage for more information.

Research Ramp-Up

In addition, this week, we are beginning a gradual and phased resumption of on-campus research activities, as allowed under local public health orders. A limited number of researchers were granted approval by the Vice Chancellor for Research (VCR) to sustain critical research on campus amid the initial shelter-in-place restrictions (e.g. animal care, urgent COVID-19 research). Now, limited additional on-campus research will begin to resume in laboratory-intensive buildings first, and planning for additional types of research is underway. During this new phase, we expect that the majority of research will continue to be conducted remotely, in order to keep population density on campus – and thus risk of infection - low.  You can review the Research Recovery Committee’s full report here. VCR Katz will be sending a more detailed message providing overall guidance and next steps to the research community tomorrow.

Parking

For updated information about parking on campus, please visit the Parking & Transportation website.

Upcoming Conversations with Campus Leaders

We have arranged for a series of remotely delivered Campus Conversations to attempt to answer your questions, elicit your feedback and listen to your concerns. Visit the Campus Conversations website to connect to the sessions and submit your questions (ahead of time or in real time). Here is the schedule:

Thursday, June 18, noon-1 p.m.: Fall Semester Planning/Overview. Chancellor Carol Christ and Executive Vice Chancellor and Provost (EVCP) Paul Alivisatos

Monday, June 22, noon-1 p.m.: Fall Semester Planning/Instruction

Tuesday, June 23, noon-1 p.m.: Summer-Fall Semester Planning/Research and Operations,

Thursday, June 25, 5-6 p.m.: Fall Semester Planning/Student Engagement & Services

Finally, we are operating amid a great deal of uncertainty which adds a layer of complexity to our planning efforts. The information we share today may well change by the start of fall semester, and indeed during the fall semester. We are committed to transparency in our decision making and pledge to keep you informed if and when we need to revisit our decisions.

Thank you again for your commitment to our campus and our mission.


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