Small classes, online instruction, COVID-19 testing: What college may look like this fall

BERKELEY, Calif. (KGO) -- Students know the fall semester at UC Berkeley, starts August 26 but admit it may be hard to recognize.

Even the chancellor says these are uncharted academic waters.

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"I use the metaphor it's like driving through Tule Fog, we simply don't know what's going to happen," said UC Berkeley Chancellor Carol Christ.

Christ says students won't be required to return to campus this fall; nearly all classes will be online due to the coronavirus pandemic. Some in-person classes will be available, but limited to about 25 students.

Undergraduate Satchi Thockchom believes the classroom is still too risky.

"As much as I like to see them, as much as I miss in-person classes, I don't think it's wise," said Thockchom.

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Forget crowded move-in weekends at the dorms like we've seen in years past. The university will provide housing for up to 6,500 students but arrival dates will be staggered.

COVID-19 testing will be a big part of the return plan, students will be required to be tested when they return to campus and must self isolate for seven days. Faculty and staff would be subject to COVID-19 testing about every two weeks.

Connor Garcia Whitehill just graduated from Bishop O'Dowd high school in Oakland and is headed to Stanford University.

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Stanford's president recently sent an email to students and parents, detailing a plan which could involve allowing only two class years to be on campus each quarter. The fall quarter would end before Thanksgiving.

Seniors would be allowed to be on campus in the spring for graduation and only one student per room in the dorms.

"There's something to missing out without a roommate in the dorms, it will be a very interesting experience," said Garcia Whitehill.

Both Cal and Stanford admit, the plans could change rapidly if there's a second or third wave of COVID-19.
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