The University of California targets Fall 2021 for return of in-person instruction

But what do they say about the best-laid plans of mice and men?

Michael Drake—the President of the University of California system—and the UC Office of the President announced on Monday that the UC system is planning to resume in-person instruction in the Fall of 2021. Drake assured that this will be a “safe return” based on models and forecasts that attribute this progress to “robust research advancements and COVID-19 vaccines soon becoming available to students, staff and faculty”.

UC Berkeley—the flagship school of the University of California—released a statement to assure the availability of COVID-19 tests and vaccines.

We will continue to strongly encourage prevention measures and will require and provide regular COVID-19 testing for anyone who will be on campus. We expect the COVID-19 vaccine will be more broadly available on campus and in the community between now and the start of fall semester, which will offer further protection against disease spread. And we will continue to work in close concert with and at the direction of local public health authorities.

To some, it may seem premature to declare a return to normalcy by the Fall. After all, the vaccine is just starting to roll out in the US, the nation is grappling with 1,750–4,000 deaths per day [1, 2] (each day is like a whole new September 11th), and California is reporting about 400–700 deaths per day (each day eradicates enough people to fill or exceed Pimentel Hall or the large auditorium in Valley Life Sciences Building).

However, if we return to Drake’s statement (and not the one in Hotline Bling), he emphasizes that the UC system recognizes “the importance of communicating its plans as early as possible” to help students and families plan for enrollment, living arrangements, finances, etc. I expect this decision is hardly set in stone, but more of a plausible best-case scenario to facilitate planning for this resumption.

Who knows—if in-person instruction is permitted at UC Berkeley in Fall, that may bode well for the return of live crowds and tailgating at Memorial Stadium. Fingers crossed that the situation will improve to enable an on-campus return in the Fall.