University of California campuses will offer mostly online instruction this fall, but each school has the power to set its own rules and at least two of them are already revising early plans to account for new coronavirus outbreaks.
Some schools plan to offer 30% of instruction in person, while others intend to limit on-site coursework to laboratory and studio classes. Some are prioritizing incoming freshmen for campus housing while others plan to reserve rooms for students with special circumstances, including financial need.
As the pandemic’s trajectory continues to change, university administrators warn campuses may revert to reduced operations even after the fall semester begins.
At least two schools — UC Berkeley and UC Merced — are already reevaluating their plans in light of recent COVID-19 developments. At Cal, that’s because frat parties triggered an outbreak that more than doubled the total number of infections tied to Berkeley’s campus, officials said on Wednesday.
The UC system in May approved guidelines for campus reopening and committed to continuing education this fall. In order to welcome students back to campus, individual campus have to meet some systemwide standards, including plans for contract tracing, testing, quarantine and isolation. Beyond that, operations are up to individual administrators’ discretion.
“Let me be very clear that every campus will be open and offering instruction so that all UC students can continue to make progress toward earning their degree,” then-UC President Janet Napolitano told the Board of Regents on May 20. “The question will be: ‘How much of that instruction will be in-person versus how much is done remotely?’”
Here’s a look at nine different answers.
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Cal students are expected to take the majority of their classes online. All large lectures are set to run remotely and the university intends to offer limited in-person instruction — with analogous online options — for those who wish to return to campus.
The university plans to house up to 6,500 students — out of 30,000 total undergraduates — in residence halls and prioritize those who have already signed housing contracts, receive significant financial aid, have disabilities or participate in athletics programs.
That may all change in light of a new wave of cases on campus. UC Berkeley reported 47 new cases this week. Until then, the campus had seen just 23 cases, according to the college.
“Generally, these infections are directly related to social events where students have not followed basic safety measures,” UC Berkeley University Health Services Medical Director Anna Harte and Assistant Vice Chancellor Guy Nicolette said in a statement. “However, at the rate we are seeing increases in cases, it’s becoming harder to imagine bringing our campus community back in the way we are envisioning,” they said.
Davis similarly plans to follow a hybrid model, offering both remote and in-person instruction. In-person courses will definitely include those with live performance and hands-on learning that cannot occur remotely and may include others depending on health guidelines and instructor preference.
Officials added that the campus is “prepared to return to the current state of reduced on-site operations at any time.” UC Davis is located in Yolo County, where officials on Wednesday reported that 0% of staffed ICU beds are available.
UC Davis plans to allow students to return to campus in the fall
Most Anteaters will learn from their computers this fall. UC Irvine plans to offer in-person instruction only for “specialized upper-division labs, specific clinical and experiential courses, and some design courses in Engineering.” Administrators hope to gradually increase in-person offerings in winter and spring quarters, health restrictions permitting.
UC Irvine committed to housing as many undergraduates as possible in modified single and double rooms. Administrators are also planning for in-person activities and extracurriculars “to the extent possible.”
UCLA will offer 15 to 20% of courses on site or in an on site and remote hybrid format this fall. Those courses will include laboratory, performing arts and clinical health classes, among others.
The university will hold a housing lottery that aims to house as many first-year students as possible and will prioritize financial need, students’ distance from campus and enrollment preferences for upperclassmen who wish to participate in campus activities.
UC Merced on June 12 announced that it aims to offer 20 to 30% of overall instruction in person through a combination of remote, in-person and hybrid delivery modes. But university administrators on July 8 revised that plan, citing a worsening local outbreak.
“We believe today that a minimum number of classes — only those that by their nature are hands-on — should be delivered in person, and that campus residency should be offered to students for whom UC Merced is the best or only place to live while pursuing their education,” Chief Resilience Officer Andrew Boyd wrote in a July 8 email to faculty and staff.
While all fall classes will have a remote component, individual professors can propose in-person classes based on university guidelines. UC Riverside will prioritize graduate courses and undergraduate laboratory and studio courses in its selection process.
All students can apply to live in campus residences, but fall housing will be lower density than normal. Administrators are still determining the total number of students who can live on campus.
UC Santa Cruz
Similar to other campuses, UC Santa Cruz will offer mostly remote instruction in fall 2020 with limited in-person instruction for courses that cannot be completed online, such as studios and labs. Professors may need to complete in-person sessions prior to Thanksgiving break to avoid outbreaks associated with holiday travel.
Campus housing will be available to “various continuing student populations and new transfer students” as well as other students, space permitting. All rooms will be reconfigured to singles and doubles to reduce residential density.
UC Santa Barbara
In line with several of its peers, UC Santa Barbara will offer mostly remote instruction with some in-person and hybrid courses. All students have the option to take all of their classes online, and administrators anticipate that any course with more than 50 students will be delivered remotely.
As for campus housing, all rooms will house no more than two occupants, with the possibility of reducing that number to one. Like UCLA, UC Santa Barbara’s housing lottery will prioritize “students in their first year on campus and those with special circumstances.”
UC San Diego
UC San Diego courses will be offered in four formats — in-person only, in-person, hybrid and remote — and approximately 30% of courses will be taught in person.
Like other universities, UC San Diego plans to eliminate triple-occupancy rooms to reduce housing density. Students who are eligible for a two-year-housing guarantee — including all first-year incoming freshmen and incoming transfer students — will be offered housing if they meet university deadlines.