Alternative instruction starting Tuesday, March 10

March 9, 2020

Dear Colleagues,

Today, the Chancellor will be announcing new actions designed to help limit coronavirus (COVID-19) risk on campus. There are no confirmed cases on our campus at this time.

However, as local, national, and global public health recommendations shift to include mitigation of transmission, we are proactively taking steps that will help to protect the community.

Consequently, the campus is implementing the following changes related to course instruction. These changes are effective starting Tuesday, March 10, and will remain in place through Spring Break, which ends March 29. A decision on what will happen on March 30 and beyond will occur at a later date, based on the latest information available.


  • Beginning Tuesday, March 10, we will be suspending most in-person classes and will be offering ALL lecture courses (including discussion sections) and seminar instruction and assessment through alternative modalities (e.g., Zoom, course capture, bCourses, etc.). Classrooms will still be available to instructors, and instructors may plan in-person meetings with their GSIs and other instructors. Classroom technical support, however, may be limited (e.g., live course capture). Classes that are remote-learning ready should proceed to go online starting March 10 through the end of Spring Break.
  • Instructors who do not have remote learning processes in place by March 10 will be given a two-day period (March 10 and 11) during which their class meetings will be suspended, to allow them time to establish such processes and to ready their course(s) for resumption online by Thursday, March 12.
  • For the time being, laboratory classes, studios, physical education, and performing arts classes can continue to meet in person, though they are encouraged to minimize in-person meetings as appropriate. If you are an instructor who believes that the pedagogical objectives of your lecture or seminar course cannot be accomplished without in-person instruction, please contact your department chair or professional school dean. Chairs and Deans should then contact the Vice Chancellor for Undergraduate Education ( or Vice Provost for Graduate Studies (, respectively, for approval.
  • We ask faculty to refer to the Instructional Resilience Resources website to assist with developing instructional, exam, and student communication plans. Updates regarding available consultations and webinars on tools, pedagogy, and best practices for ADA-accessible content will be announced on this page as well.
  • Instructors are asked to communicate with their students in as timely a manner as possible about the changes they are making to their syllabi, specific virtual modality for course delivery, and examinations so that students can plan accordingly. Strategies for adapting to these changes may be found in COCI’s guidelines relating to instructional continuity.
  • The campus is not closing. Campus buildings will remain open, and many campus operations will proceed normally. Please note, however, that there may be some limitations in operations and services as some campus units will be directing their employees to work remotely, where possible.


  • During this time, course attendance policies are suspended and students may not be penalized for non-attendance. If your course requires an exception to this interim directive regarding attendance, please contact your department chair or professional school dean. Chairs and Deans should then contact the Vice Chancellor for Undergraduate Education ( or Vice Provost for Graduate Studies (, respectively, for approval.



  • Graduate students who have qualifying examinations or proposal defenses scheduled during this time will be allowed to hold them via Zoom. Instructions for how to open a Zoom Pro account may be found on the Instructional Resilience Resources website.
  • Students should expect that instructors will make changes to course syllabi as a result of these policies. Faculty will be adjusting to significant pedagogical change, and best practices for remote instruction and assessment, in a very short period of time.
  • Students who have concerns about instructors insisting that they continue to attend in-person classes or exams are being instructed to contact the department chair or professional school dean. Issues not resolvable at the local level will be elevated to the Vice Chancellor for Undergraduate Education ( or Vice Provost for Graduate Studies (, respectively.

Additional details, and the most up-to-date news, for students pertaining to instruction will be posted at:

With the number of institutions temporarily moving to online instruction, we believe there will be a surge of new ideas and efforts on alternative means of performing laboratories, assessments, and final exams. In anticipation, the Center of Teaching and Learning has published a Best Practices for Remote Examinations web page dedicated to the dissemination of best practices for assessment and examination.

Many courses on this campus have been refined with thought and care over decades. We appreciate that revising these courses to make them amenable to online delivery in a short period of time will be taxing and we ask members of the instructional community to help each other by sharing resources and expertise. We also recognize that holding one another - faculty, students, and staff - to the standards of an undisrupted semester would be unfair and counterproductive. We appreciate all of the efforts being made to practice resilience and to practice empathy for ourselves and our community during this difficult time.


A. Paul Alivisatos
Executive Vice Chancellor & Provost

Oliver O’Reilly
Chair, Berkeley Division of the Academic Senate

This message was sent to all UC Berkeley faculty, instructors and GSIs