UC Berkeley campanile
Campanile at UC Berkeley. Photo: Jerome Paulos

The University of California at Berkeley has decided to suspend most in-person classes, starting Tuesday, and will be “offering ALL lecture courses (including discussion sections) and seminar instruction and assessment through alternative modalities,” campus officials told faculty in an urgent email Monday just after noon.

The announcement and changes were “designed to help limit coronavirus (COVID-19) risk on campus,” officials wrote, adding, “There are no confirmed cases on our campus at this time.”

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The changes will begin Tuesday and remain in place through March 29, when spring break ends, according to the email, signed by Executive Vice Chancellor & Provost A. Paul Alivisatos and Berkeley Division of the Academic Senate Chair Oliver O’Reilly. The email subject line identified the message as “URGENT.”

According to the email, Berkeley Chancellor Carol T. Christ will announce the decision Monday.

Some classes — “laboratory classes, studios, physical education, and performing arts classes” — can continue to meet, the officials wrote, “though they are encouraged to minimize in-person meetings as appropriate.”

Campus itself will remain open and “a decision on what will happen on March 30 and beyond will occur at a later date,” according to the email, which one of its recipients shared with Berkeleyside.

Classes will be offered remotely through Zoom videoconferencing and other approaches. Course attendance policies have been suspended and “students may not be penalized for non-attendance,” according to the email.

Berkeleyside has asked UC Berkeley for confirmation but officials had not responded as of publication time.

The city of Berkeley has one confirmed case of COVID-19, and Alameda County has two others. Thus far, unlike nearby counties, Alameda County has had no known instances of community spread, where the source is unknown.

Berkeleyside will continue to share additional information when it is available.

Update, 1:25 p.m. UC Berkeley confirmed to Berkeleyside that it has released the email to the campus community.

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Emilie Raguso (former senior editor, news) joined Berkeleyside in 2012 and covered politics, public safety and development until her departure in 2022. In 2017, Emilie was named Journalist of the Year...