This page has been created as a resource for instructors and will be updated as the situation changes.
UC Berkeley will return to primarily in-person operations and instruction for the fall semester. This page is designed to help you prepare and adjust to this change. The campus is returning to in-person instruction because the connectivity and common experiences afforded by campus presence are essential for building, strengthening, and maintaining a robust and inclusive university culture that supports our innovative work as a student-centered, research-focused, service-oriented university. The campus is no longer subject to public health restrictions and advisories that are inconsistent with our mission of operating an in-person university. The return to campus has been made possible by the widespread availability of vaccines and high vaccination rates within the campus and surrounding communities. Being vaccinated is the most effective way for instructors and students to protect themselves against COVID-19; it also helps protect those few members of our community who can’t be vaccinated.
What to do
As an instructor, you are expected to:
⃞ Comply with all ongoing campus requirements
See the return to campus page for a complete list of requirements, including:
⃞ Familiarize yourself with resources for instructors:
There are many resources available to instructors; here are some of the most critical ones for reference:
⃞ Plan ahead for absences and be prepared to pivot
Plan ahead for what you’ll do if you’re not able to be on campus. This could include moving to remote instruction in the event of fires or smoke, power outage, change in campus health guidelines, the need to take care of a family member or if you get sick yourself.
- See the flexible work arrangements for academic appointees document for more information.
- Unless your class is in a course-capture enabled classroom, recording in-person classes is at the discretion of the instructor. However, instructors are advised to be prepared for potential transitions to remote instruction in response to power outages, air quality issues, or changing public health guidance.
⃞ Engage students
For half the students on campus this fall, it will be their first time attending classes in-person. Instructors are encouraged to provide additional opportunities for student engagement at the start of the semester and a tapered start to assignments and quizzes. Your course syllabus is an excellent place to provide information to students about supportive resources, as well.
What not to do
Ⓧ Ask about vaccination status
Do not ask students if they are vaccinated or request proof of vaccination.
Ⓧ Require face coverings if not required by campus
- If face coverings are required by campus, you are allowed to ask students to wear a face covering. Please see the FAQ below for more information.
- If face coverings are not required by campus, you’re allowed to request that students wear a face covering in your classroom but it is not okay to exclude, retaliate or penalize those who choose not to.
Ⓧ Share information about positive cases
University Health Services has a process for notifying students and employees of potential exposures. You should not communicate about positive cases without express written authorization from UHS due to privacy concerns. UHS will continue contact tracing and case investigation for positive cases; in general, vaccinated individuals who come in close contact with a positive case will still be contacted, and would not typically be quarantined if they remain asymptomatic. Depending on the nature of the case and the exposure, these contacts may also be tested.
Questions and answers
A: When face coverings are required campus-wide, you may want to start your classes with a reminder about the latest guidance. This could be a verbal reminder and/or a note on the whiteboard or a slide at the beginning of your presentation. You may also want to add to your syllabus that “students must adhere to the current campus directives related to COVID-19 and refusal to do so may result in the student being asked to leave.”
A: Students have generally been compliant with campus requirements. In many cases, if a student isn’t wearing a face covering it will be because they simply forgot to put one on. For students who forget their face covering at home, you may want to have extras on hand. Instructors are welcome to pick up a free box of disposable surgical masks for your classroom or office hours by going to the campus Hazardous Materials Facility during a scheduled cloth face-covering distribution time
A: Students must adhere to any face covering requirements in effect in the same way that they must conform to elements of the Code of Student Conduct or other campus policies. If a student shows up to class, office hours or another setting where face coverings are required by the campus without a face covering, you may remind the student of the requirement and ask them to put on their face covering. If the student refuses to put one on, you may ask the student to leave, just as you would ask a student who is being disruptive to either cease their disruptive behavior or leave. If you cannot control the situation yourself, you may end class early for the well-being of all. Please report incidents to the Center for Student Conduct (CSC). The CSC will need the students’ name, SID and other relevant information submitted via the online report form
. Before asking a student to leave class or an office because the student is not wearing a face covering, you should privately confirm with the student that the student does not have a disability accommodation that excuses the student from wearing a face covering. You should not call UCPD to report failure to wear a face covering. UCPD is not charged with enforcement of face-covering requirements and failure to wear a face covering is not a police emergency. When you report to CSC, the threat posed by a student who is not wearing a face covering will be assessed on an individualized basis and the student will receive direction that is appropriate to their situation, including whether they recently tested negative for COVID-19, their vaccination status, and prior incidents of noncompliance.
A: It is hard for anyone to feel fully comfortable during a pandemic. That said, if a medical condition or other disability prompts you to want to request a disability accommodation, the process and forms needed may be found under the “reasonable accommodation documents” section of the APO policies page
Instructors will generally not be able to confirm that all of their students are vaccinated. Some students, presently estimated to be less than 200, will be studying on campus with an approved exemption from the requirement to be vaccinated. Instructors are not responsible for enforcing the vaccination policy. During the fall semester, Student Affairs will identify students who are not in compliance with the vaccination policy and direct them not to attend class. Instructors will not be obligated to provide remote learning options for these students, even if that results in the students failing their courses. Students who fail to comply with directions not to attend class will be disciplined. Students who are not compliant with the vaccination policy will not be able to register for spring semester courses. The vaccination policy is a strategy to reduce, not eliminate, the transmission of COVID-19. It is not possible to make the campus a “bubble” in which everyone is vaccinated because the campus does not have the authority to mandate vaccination (without exceptions) for everyone who enters the campus perimeter. The rescission of shelter-in-place orders and the elimination of public health limitations upon gatherings reflect a consensus among public health officials that with extremely effective vaccines now readily available, the costs of isolating individuals outweigh the public health benefits.
A: Most likely not, based upon current public health guidance. Vaccinated individuals who are close contacts to positive COVID-19 cases are not recommended to quarantine unless they have symptoms. Classroom interactions are typically limited, and with such a high vaccination rate in our community, it is unlikely that the number of people required by the public health authority to quarantine would necessitate a class being conducted remotely during a quarantine period. It is of course possible that contact tracing or other issues such as air quality or power outages could necessitate conducting class remotely. Instructors should not conduct their in-person classes remotely unless they are required to do so by a general campus directive or they receive permission or a specific directive to do so.
A: Yes, if face coverings are required indoors by campus or public health order, instructors must wear face coverings while teaching. Delivering instruction does not qualify as a task that cannot be performed while wearing a face covering under the current city order. Face shields with drapes are an approved alternative to face coverings. The campus has ordered a supply of reusable face shields with drapes and they will be available for pickup by instructors during cloth face covering distributions
once they arrive. Instructors are welcome to purchase other brands of face shields at their own expense but they must include a drape at the bottom. Please note that EH&S has conducted tests with members of the Instruction Committee, and has confirmed that the shields do not significantly impact the ability for instructors to project their voice.
A: Yes, RTL will have a limited number of microphones available for checkout through the Academic Innovation Studio (AIS) in Dwinelle starting on August 18th. Please visit Classroom Technology – Instructor Getting Started
for more information or to contact the Classroom Technology team.
A: RTL will have a handful of personal PA devices
available for checkout in the AIS starting on Aug. 18. These devices are reasonably-priced at $30-$50 so RTL recommends that instructors and GSIs purchase their own. There will be a demo model available in the AIS for instructors to test out. Visit Classroom Technology – Instructor Getting Started
for more information or to contact the Classroom Technology team.
A: This risk to a vaccinated instructor is exceedingly low if the student is wearing a face covering, and perhaps even lower if the instructor is wearing a face covering as well. The risk of infection is much higher for an unvaccinated individual. Anyone with an approved vaccine policy exception or exemption is being tested weekly. Several studies have shown higher staff-to-staff transmission than student-to-staff transmission in educational settings, although more data is needed related to the delta variant.
A: Not typically, at least not with the current variant/situation. As long as everyone is wearing a face covering, there is still minimal risk. University Health Services will still initiate contact tracing to identify and reach anyone who was a close contact of any individual who tests positive. UC Berkeley’s contact tracing effort is far more aggressive and well-resourced than any local public health department, as we invested early in this team.
A: Being positive for COVID-19 with no symptoms or mild symptoms is considered to be a temporary medical disability. Prior to the pandemic and now, students are entitled to go to the Disabled Students’ Program (not their instructor) to seek accommodations for a temporary medical disability, such as breaking the wrist of their writing hand, not being able to attend class because they have the flu, etc. Students can also ask the instructor directly for an accommodation. The instructor can self-manage the request, or the instructor can refer the student to DSP. Because UC Berkeley is legally required to consider every accommodation that a student asks for and to engage in an interactive process every single time an accommodation is requested, it is not possible to set blanket policies on what kind of accommodation can be expected. Instructors with questions or concerns should refer the request to DSP.
A: Yes, but an instructor is not required to do so. The instructor can also report the student to the Center for Student Conduct, or decide to leave enforcement to others on campus. Before requiring the student to leave, the instructor should privately confirm that the student does not have a disability accommodation that allows the student not to wear a face covering.
A: Up to this time, the RMT has determined that having different face covering requirements in different indoor campus spaces would be extremely confusing, would be difficult to administer, and would lead to undesirable interpersonal confrontations. The RMT has also received input that the people charged with managing spaces do not want to have the burden of making the decisions that apply to the occupants of their spaces. The RMT has also placed a premium in its decision-making in maintaining alignment with public health requirements and public health guidance. Like all of the decisions regarding the management of the pandemic, the RMT is open to revising campus face covering directives based upon changes in pandemic conditions and the input of campus stakeholders. The RMT is willing to be more conservative than public health authorities when it feels the facts and expert advice justify deviation. For example, while the campus and Bay Area face covering requirements that are currently in effect were announced at essentially the same time, the RMT had actually independently decided to impose the indoor face covering requirement immediately before the RMT knew about the similar local public health order. Finally, though the issue of local control over face covering requirements indoors is obviously moot right now, it will be reconsidered as conditions change.
A: The campus strategy for addressing whether people are compliant with the vaccination policy and testing requirements is to reach out to people who are not compliant on an individual basis and impose appropriate restrictions upon them. Checking a badge will not tell the checker whether someone is vaccinated. Only UHS is currently authorized to collect information on vaccination status. In order to comply with applicable law, people who check compliance badges need to be trained about what not to ask about (actual vaccination status) and what records they should neither collect nor make. This is, for example, relevant with regard to reporting noncompliance via campus Gmail. One of our campus smartphone badges (the UHS badge) de facto discloses actual vaccination status, the other (the Berkeley app badge) does not. One smartphone badge therefore could be used for confirming compliance with the vaccination policy, the other should not be. There are also potential issues that need to be addressed with regard to claims that badging is being implemented in a manner that violates our nondiscrimination policies. These challenges are all surmountable, and badge checking may resume at some point, but if it does resume, then processes and procedures will be put in place to carry out the checking and train the people who are doing the checking. The campus is not committing resources to that effort at this time, but badge checking is being actively considered as an option to implement in the future.
A: Instructors are not required to do anything to enforce the compliance of other people with campus pandemic directives. They can choose to report violations and leave that work to the Student Affairs professionals who are already charged with directly contacting non-compliant students, or instructors may choose to not address the issue in any way.
A: We don’t yet know, but it appears from the number of documented breakthrough cases to be low if everyone is wearing a face covering.
A: The campus continues to plan based upon the scientific consensus and current public health guidance that vaccinated people are less likely to become infected at all, and are extremely unlikely to have serious adverse health outcomes if they do become infected. If data or guidance emerges that suggests that the vaccinated are at significant risk of developing serious adverse health outcomes from a COVID infection, including “long COVID-19,” then the RMT will change its pandemic management strategy, in consultation with campus public health experts.
A: Tell the student that they should report the positive test to UHS immediately. You are requested but not required to immediately call UHS at 510-642-2000 and follow the prompts to report the information provided by the student. As an alternative, you may call 510-332-7192 to reach Occupational Health. Do not send anyone any email about the student’s report. Do not disclose the report to students, staff, other instructors, or anyone other than UHS. Accommodate the student studying remotely during their isolation period. (You are not necessarily required to allow the student to participate in class remotely in real time.) If the student does not agree with your proposal for academically accommodating the student during the student’s absence from class, or if you do not want to interact with the student regarding that accommodation, refer the student to the Disabled Students Program, their staff will mediate the temporary accommodation process. Learn more about contact tracing and close exposures.
A: If a student or instructor tests positive after attending a class during the infectious period, everyone who is registered for the class will receive an email notification. This email notification is in addition to the usual contact-tracing process, during which we identify and notify close contacts by phone and/or text. It is very important to note that a “potential exposure” notification is different from being identified as a close contact with a COVID-19 positive individual. Given campus vaccination rates and face-covering policies, you are likely to be at a lower risk than an identified contact. To protect privacy, the notification will not include details about the course or the individual who tested positive. The potential exposure notification will include instructions and suggested actions. No one will need to quarantine as a result of a potential exposure notification. Testing is optional for fully vaccinated individuals and advised for not fully vaccinated individuals.
A: Department managers and chairs are notified about positive cases when they are identified as a close contact, or when there is a specific concern about classroom exposure that UHS needs their help to manage.
A: Students are encouraged to report positive tests to UHS but there is no way to compel them to do so. The symptom screener question regarding exposure to a positive case should be answered based upon what the person answering reasonably considers to be confirmed, reliable information. Generally, that would mean information obtained directly from (or confirmed by) UHS, a health department, or one’s own medical provider. An instructor who receives a report of a positive test directly from a student may convey that report to and seek interim direction from UHS, see below.
A: Instructors are not required to but are strongly encouraged to report to UHS any student reporting a positive test to the instructor by calling 510-642-2000 and following the prompts. UHS will follow up. Reporting to UHS (by telephone, not email) is not a privacy violation because the student disclosed the information to the instructor and this disclosure allows the instructor to report to UHS (our designated health authority). UHS knows how to receive, make a record of, and respond to this kind of report in a compliant manner. It is similarly appropriate for an instructor to report to UHS if a student continues to come to class after reporting to an instructor that the student is positive or has symptoms. Note that it is possible that the student has been cleared from isolation or was confirmed to actually be negative after an inaccurate or misunderstood test result.
A: Similar questions have been asked during earlier stages of the pandemic by employees who never started to work remotely and employees who returned to in-person work from remote work. It makes many people understandably anxious that they don’t know whether people in their specific workplace tested positive. So far, the experience of the campus is that this anxiety turns out to be manageable and does not result in panic. Generally, UHS cannot disclose details about a specific positive case except to people who are determined through contact tracing to be close contacts. An instructor should assume that they have not been identified as a close contact to a positive case that has been confirmed by UHS unless the instructor has been contacted by UHS. Instructors need not address potential exposure with their students. UHS is the designated office to provide students with information about exposure to a close contact. Instructors may, but are not obligated to, refer students who are concerned about classroom exposure to the information available on the campus COVID-19 page, including the dashboard. The dashboard contains disclosable information about positive cases in our community. Vaccinated individuals who have symptoms should not come to work or class in person while they have symptoms and should consult with UHS or their health care provider about whether they should quarantine and/or test. All UC Berkeley employees, including instructors, can presently test at UHS whenever they feel it is appropriate to do so. It is completely understandable and appropriate to be anxious about contracting COVID-19. Students, faculty and staff can contact their health care provider to receive services related to the management of this anxiety. Faculty and staff may also contact Employee Assistance for support in managing anxiety in their workplace.
A: What is considered a workgroup and an outbreak are defined by Cal/OSHA. A workgroup refers to a group of employees, not students. UHS has the authority to direct an instructor not to hold class in person if UHS is concerned about a specific exposure situation. An instructor who receives that direction from UHS may temporarily teach remotely or explore other options with their chair.
A: UC Berkeley students are highly motivated and will go to great lengths to get a good grade, even if it means attending class while sick. This is problematic in the best of times but especially during a pandemic. For this reason, instructors are strongly encouraged to eliminate any incentives to attending class while sick and to support students in staying home while they’re sick. Attendance requirements and grade incentives for attendance are strongly discouraged.
A: Social distancing and other non-pharmaceutical measures were put in place in California and across the world in the absence of an effective vaccine. While they were effective in preventing the spread of COVID-19, they also wreaked havoc on our daily lives and created mental health, financial and other challenges for many. With the widespread availability of highly effective vaccines, these restrictions have been lifted. UC Berkeley’s plans for the fall 2021 semester were contingent upon the full lifting of social distancing requirements. Due to space constraints, it would not be possible to return to in-person instruction at scale while maintaining social distancing. As of June 15, 2021, social distancing is no longer required in California and there is currently no public health recommendation to curtail activities when social distance cannot be maintained. If social distancing is possible it is still recommended as an additional precaution but it cannot be guaranteed.
A: The primary reason for making courses with more than 200 students remote was to provide options for international students who are unable to reenter the United States and students with disabilities who need remote instructional options as an accommodation. The 200 student enrollment limit also provided for more flexibility in scheduling rooms. It was never the intention to schedule rooms in such a way as to allow for social distancing as that would not be possible given space constraints on campus.
All of the answers above are based upon current public health mandates and guidance and current campus pandemic directives. As mandates, guidance and directives are modified, these answers could change.