Keep UC Students, Faculty, Staff, and All East Bay Residents Healthy and Safe

We request that the Berkeley City Council and other East Bay public officials speak up to protect the health and the lives of all Berkeley and East Bay residents, including students, staff and faculty at the University of California at Berkeley: in the fall of 2020, instruction should be conducted entirely online, with the possible exception of activities such as laboratory learning that require campus presence. 

In making this request, we are in agreement with the Editorial Staff of the UC Berkeley campus newspaper, the Daily Californian, as expressed in its editorial, July 2, 2020.  That editorial argues convincingly that in this time of pandemic, if classes are held on campus,

“UC Berkeley cannot ensure its students’ health and safety…. For the well-being of their peers, staff, faculty and the Berkeley community, students should treat fall 2020 as an online-only semester….  The considerable resources required to keep campus facilities sufficiently sanitary could be spent instead on the tremendous task of transitioning all courses online ….”

The return of UC Berkeley’s student body for the 2020 fall semester will endanger not only the entire campus community, but also everyone else residing in the East Bay, including those who are elderly and more vulnerable to injury and death from the virus.   Although daily interaction between UC students and the non-student population normally poses no problem, such interaction is hazardous under current pandemic circumstances.

We regard UC Berkeley as an essential educational institution and recognize that UC Berkeley students enrich the community in many ways.  However, we’ve witnessed this summer a rise of new cases among Berkeley’s student population, together with an alarming increase in the number of coronavirus cases statewide.  And we know that many of the proposed thousands of students returning in the fall will come from hard-hit Los Angeles and Southern California.  Under these circumstances, looking out for the health of students and everyone else living in the East Bay calls for the temporary substitution of online education for the traditional classroom pedagogy.

We request as well that this substitution not endanger the livelihoods of campus workers, including custodial, maintenance, library, and food service providers.  Although moving almost all instruction on-line will lessen their work load, all of those who normally perform these duties should be kept on full salary.

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