Guidance on Exceptions to In-Person Instruction, Fall 2021

May 27, 2021

Dear Colleagues, 

As the Spring semester concludes and we turn our attention toward the Fall, we are re-sharing guidance about exceptions to in-person instruction as a resource for instructors, faculty, GSIs and instructional staff as they make their plans for Fall instruction. 

We encourage all instructors to review the updated Remote Accommodations Guidance for Instruction which includes an overview of exceptions to the default in-person modality, and notes on temporary shifts to emergency remote instruction, and exams. Please share this guidance with any incoming instructors, especially those who may not yet be receiving campus communications.

Below is a summary of the guidance. 

Bases/processes for requesting to teach remotely: 

  1. Instructors who have class sections with 200 or more students enrolled are asked to deliver these sections remotely No request process is required. 

  2. Instructors with medical necessity or disability. An instructor may request remote teaching as a workplace accommodation for a qualifying disability, following these guidelines: Berkeley Accommodation Process for Academic Appointees with Disabilities.

  1. Instructors with a pedagogical need to teach remotely that is based on public health requirements associated with in-person instruction may petition their department chair to approve remote instruction for one semester. Details of the process can be found here: Fall 2021 Exception to In-person Instruction: Process

  2. Caring for a family member with a serious medical condition Ladder-rank faculty and teaching professors (LSOE) are eligible for Temporary Workload Modification (TWM). Details of this policy can be found here: Leaves and Workload Modifications for Ladder-Rank Faculty

  3. Emeriti faculty teaching freshman/sophomore seminars and student-facilitated courses (e.g., deCal courses) with faculty sponsor consent and chair approval can be approved to teach remotely for Fall 2021.

Bases that are not currently approvable for exceptions to in-person teaching include:

  1. Instructor does not reside locally Faculty are expected to be in residence, according to the Academic Personnel Manual, unless they are on approved leave. 

  1. Concerns about classroom ventilation or potential virus transmission. While such concerns are understandable, they are not a basis for approving an exception to in-person instruction at this time. The current plan to return to in-person instruction in fall 2021 assumes that a high percentage of our campus community will be fully vaccinated. Consequently, we do anticipate that there will be few cases of COVID-19. Under these conditions, we will largely return to pre-pandemic use of campus spaces. 

  1. Family-care responsibilities We expect schools, daycares, senior-care centers, and other similar programs to be open and at normal capacity in fall 2021, and as such the potential need to provide care is not a basis for approving an exception to in-person instruction at this time. 

  • Interest in supporting students who cannot be on campus in fall 2021 by delivering a class remotely. We encourage interested instructors to explore offering remote access to their in-person class. Options include the use of course-capture- enabled classrooms, as well as the ongoing use of Zoom recording of any in-person class. Detailed guidance is in development and will be shared by ETS when ready. 

Thank you again for your ongoing engagement as we plan for the return to campus instruction. This Berkeley Academic Senate FAQ addresses additional questions about fall instruction, and ongoing campus updates can be found at Your feedback is welcomed; please reach out with questions or comments to the appropriate office noted in the guidelines or for general questions to


A. Paul Alivisatos, Executive Vice Chancellor and Provost

Catherine P. Koshland, Vice Chancellor for Undergraduate Education

Benjamin E. Hermalin, Vice Provost for the Faculty

Jennifer Johnson-Hanks, Chair, Berkeley Division of the Academic Senate 

This message has been sent to all Faculty, Instructors, and Graduate Student Instructors