Power outage: Guidance for courses

March 14, 2024

TO:  UC Berkeley Academic Senate Members, Council of Deans, Department Chairs, Academic non-student appointees, and Instructors

 Dear Instructors,

 Due to a power outage, classroom instruction was disrupted for many in-person classes in affected buildings throughout yesterday afternoon and evening. The university’s response teams acted quickly and we are back to normal operations today. We are grateful to your work supporting the education of our students and the mission of our campus and appreciate the challenges disruptions can cause for students and instructors. 

The purpose of this message is to provide guidance for those who canceled class, moved to asynchronous instruction, or otherwise experienced an interruption in their course plan. Academic Senate guidelines state: 

“If you must cancel synchronous lectures because you, your GSIs, or some or all of your students are without power, you may cancel the class, or reschedule it, or provide asynchronous materials (e.g. readings, pre-recorded lectures) once power has been restored.

If you must reschedule an exam, try not to be in an urgent rush to complete the exam. If possible, wait at least 24–48 hours after the return of power, especially for extended outages. It is likely that you and your students will have practical concerns that may take precedence immediately after power is restored.” 

The following resources also have helpful guidance on what to do during an event and when classes resume:

Options include:

  • Missed material can be covered at an accelerated pace in remaining course sessions.
  • Missed material can be canceled from the syllabus. 
  • Virtual meetings for lectures and seminars may be held, as appropriate, using video conferencing software or the equivalent. We encourage faculty to record the virtual meeting and post it to bCourses for the benefit of students who may not be able to participate in the virtual session.
  • In the event that missed material or activities cannot be accelerated or canceled from the syllabus, missed material may be rescheduled to be covered during RRR week. Instructors should be aware, however, that the loss of days for review and exam preparation may create additional pressure for students, and COCI advises that alternative means of working around campus closures without “annexing” days of RRR week be devised wherever possible. In any event, faculty are encouraged to exercise their best judgment in making such adaptations to their course syllabi, and to communicate any changes to students and student instructors as quickly as possible.
  • Where a lab or discussion section occurring only once per week is impacted, and where no other means of adjusting the course schedule is deemed feasible, the remaining sessions may each be postponed by a week, and the final session rescheduled for the corresponding day of RRR week. If there are several lab sections per week (e.g., the same Chemistry lab on M, W, and F), and only one is missed, options include canceling the lab as part of the course evaluation, canceling it for the affected students (and possibly pro-rating their overall course grade), doubling a later lab that week to allow affected students to attend, and attempting to schedule a weekend session.
  • Assignments due on a disrupted day can still be due if submitted electronically (through bCourses or to individual instructors) or postponed to the next day or class session. Instructors should be mindful that, depending on the nature of the campus closure, some or all students may not be able to engage with the course at the same level as they would be able to during regular instruction. Many students may have lost access to bCourses, and perhaps been unable to operate their computers.
  • Where feasible, classroom activities or discussion topics may be converted into homework assignments in order to maintain continuity during short-term campus closures.

Please use your best judgment. As always, please consider our Principles of Community, which include: “we embrace open and equitable access to opportunities for learning and development as our obligation and goal.” We ask that you please make equitable access a priority and allow flexibility in options provided for completing coursework and taking exams. 


Amani M. Nuru-Jeter, Vice Chair, Berkeley Division of the Academic Senate 

Maximilian Auffhammer, Chair, Berkeley Division of the Academic Senate 

Oliver O’Reilly, Vice Provost for Undergraduate Education

Benjamin Hermalin, Executive Vice Chancellor and Provost