UC Berkeley announced today that it will shift to online education for the beginning of the fall semester due to worsening local conditions during the COVID-19 pandemic.

The university previously had plans to offer hybrid instruction with remote classes and in-person instruction until Thanksgiving Break, but cases of COVID-19 are increasing in Alameda County. UC Berkeley reported 25 cases of the virus among students last week. The previous week, 47 people contracted the virus after attending some fraternity parties. The city is currently working with the university’s health department to educate students and provide resources, Mayor Jesse Arreguín said during a recent town hall. 

The university did not directly address the student cases in the announcement sent to the community, but said the local increase in infections is “of particular concern.” Alameda County has been placed on a state watchlist along with neighboring counties, and public schools in Berkeley have also pivoted to remote learning for the fall.

Administrators said, however, that they are still working on hybrid education models and will consider implementing them down the line — perhaps later in the fall — in accordance with public health guidance.

“COVID-19 is showing us that we have to be not only agile, moving quickly between degrees of openness and sometimes pulling back, but also prepared to move forward as soon as conditions allow,” the announcement said. “This means we will keep a fully remote option open for all students, but also be prepared to implement our plans for select in-person instruction activities for those students who can take advantage of them, as conditions allow, even if it is partway through a term.”

Even if health conditions improve and the university is able to introduce some in-person education during the fall semester, administrators said they will keep their original plans for remote learning after Thanksgiving break due to increased travel, and the possibility of virus transmission.

The announcement was signed by the Chancellor for Student Affairs, Stephen C. Sutton, the Vice Provost for Graduate Studies and Dean of the Graduate Division, Lisa Garcia Bedolla, the Vice-Chancellor for Undergraduate Education, Catherine P. Koshland, and the Vice-Chancellor for Equity and Inclusion, Oscar Dubón.

UC Berkeley campanile tower surrounded by trees
The UC Berkeley Campanile. Photo: Pete Rosos

Supriya Yelimeli

Supriya Yelimeli joined the Berkeleyside staff as a general assignment reporter in May 2020 after contributing reporting since 2018 as a freelance writer. Yelimeli grew up in Fremont and has written for...

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  1. Lies you clearly aren’t a student like I am it is very hard to learn with online lectures to the point where I didn’t learn anything at all also students simply cheated on midterms i already know that this school year I’m not gonna learn anything

  2. The UC Berkeley education model is OBSOLETE (and costly). Students are required to live in the VERY EXPENSIVE area
    around Berkeley and physically attend class in large OBSOLETE (and costly to maintain) lecture halls. The MODERN Distance Learning education model does not require your physical presence or large lecture halls.

  3. Shame on these students who have now further upended the lives of fellow students and business owners in this town. The University should take strong measures to censure these entitled, irresponsible, and selfish students. How about asking every student who attended a frat party to contribute to a fund to help support local business that would have been able to revive had school been able to resume in person, even partially? If those party goers cannot be traced, the University should at least issue a statement condemning their behavior in no uncertain terms.

  4. Yes the Fraternity was in the news all 47 of the selfish ones…..and yes shame on them but individuals of the same age and standing (college) are doing this across the nation, frat or no frat…..it’s like McCarthyism just rolled up into Berkeley with a left leaning impact to SHAME just the Frats? Seriously??? Arizona, Southern CA, Northern CA, Texas, Florida all have similar results. Cal was likely shut down not because of the Fraternity boys stupidity but likely the potential stupidity and selfishness of a larger crowd this Fall from ALL walks of life.

    The Fraternity Boys were just the Canary in the coal mine syndrome.

    We were in Oakland the other evening running an errand and approximately 20% of the people we saw walking the streets were not wearing a mask, nor did they have one visibly present. (yes they could have had one in their pocket, stuffed down their pants etc.)

    I imagine any gathering during that week (fireworks), bars, restaurants, beaches etc. all contributed to our growing concerns. Pick on the Frats as you see fit…it is Berkeley but I would be more worried about the Canary in the coal mine.

  5. I think you’re being harsh to accuse all the students of being like this. It seems that the problems came – as would have been quite predictable – by the fraternities. Many, MANY college students do not act like frat bothers.

  6. Please do not stereotype all young adults; same for mid-life adults and older adults. There are lots of responsible people in each age group….and some that are not responsible.

  7. Because of SELFISH, stupid students who insisted on having parties in the face of everything, the school will be shut down and who suffers? Our local businesses on Southside–especially north of Dwight. My wife and I were witness to a large party at a Frat house on Bancroft just east of College Avenue. There were about 200 kids (no exaggeration) milling around on the front lawn of the frat house laughing, drinking beer, etc. all without masks and without a care. It made our blood boil. We called the police as had several other people already. When we came back from our walk the party had been broken up by the police. How SELFISH and stupid can these kids be???

  8. Headline should read: UC Berkeley cancels in person classes because of a lack of common sense.

  9. How can UC Berkeley keep track of all their professorial staff from spending hours upon hours on NextDoor and Berkeleyside instead of working on online lesson plans? Seems to be a large proportion of active professors and professorial pundits with lots of free time to radicalize the Berkeley….but isn’t Berkeley already a bit left of Center anyways? Maybe it’s time for sanity checks on all professors and staff given quarantine mental deprivation syndrome? Does tenure mean you can while away the hours on Berkeleyside, NextDoor, East Bay times, SFGate etc.?

  10. Looks like these darling “kids” can stay home with Mommy and Daddy and try to learn from home since many of their colleagues can’t socially distance at the beach, on campus, insist on no masks…….Maybe mommy and daddy can teach them some manners as well as learn the social experiment about selfish vs. selfless behaviors.