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Housing Updates for 2020-21 and COVID-19 Response

Housing for Academic Year 2020–21 and COVID-19 Response

Last updated: February 16, 2021

On-Campus Housing for 2020–21

UC Berkeley is pleased to be housing a limited number of students this year in campus residence halls and apartments. Please note that UC Berkeley’s housing plans are subject to the restrictions of local public health authorities. Read the latest campus updates about Academic Year 2020–21 here. 

On-campus housing for students in the residential halls is single occupancy only. Occupancy levels in apartments for undergraduate and graduate student and student family housing (University Village Albany) remain the same. All housing complexes continue to have residential life, housing, custodial, maintenance, and other critical staff on site and those offices are open for service.

On this page, you can find:

Spring 2021 Housing Options

Housing contracts are for the full academic year 2020–21, including both fall and spring semesters.  Spring-only housing assignments will be offered on a limited, space-available basis. For information specific to the spring semester, see Housing for Spring 2021.

Testing for COVID-19

The university provides surveillance and clinical testing for COVID-19 to enrolled students, staff and faculty. UHS’ surveillance testing is free of charge, regardless of your insurance. 

Surveillance (Asymptomatic) Testing

  • Anyone living on campus is required to test twice weekly. This includes students in residence halls and campus-owned apartments, and residential life staff. (See details for University Village below.) 

  • Students who live at University Village will be required to test weekly and surveillance testing is now available onsite.
  • Anyone coming to campus is required to test weekly. This includes faculty, staff, postdocs and students who have permission to work in-person on the central campus or in campus buildings adjacent to the central campus. It also includes students receiving in-person instruction. If you only come to campus on occasion, you are only required to be current with your testing when on campus.

  • Twice a week testing is recommended for those living in Bowles Hall Residents, Greek Housing Residents, and Berkeley Student Cooperative (Co-Op) Residents

Students moving into residence halls were tested for COVID-19 on their move-in day (see the Move-In and Move-In FAQs pages for information) and again after their first week. Move In began prior to the start of instruction so students could self-sequester for 7–10 days, a preventative measure where people deliberately restrict their movement to avoid contact with others. New residents remained sequestered until the results of their second test were confirmed and came back negative.

As of Feb. 1, 2021, Health Ambassadors check for compliance with mandatory testing requirements at Cal Dining’s three dining commons (Crossroads, Café 3, and Clark Kerr). The ambassadors will use the testing badge system to ensure that anyone entering is up to date on their required testing. For more information, please visit the Cal Dining COVID-19 response page.

Clinical Testing

University Health Services offers a separate clinical testing program for any student experiencing symptoms of COVID-19 or who may have had close contact with someone who has COVID-19. For more information please visit the UHS Clinical Testing page. For any student experiencing symptoms or who may have had close contact to someone with COVID-19 (or any students with concerns), please call the University Health Services Advice Line 24/7 at 510-643-7197 for consultation or an appointment. You can also call if you are unsure if you need to be seen.

You do NOT need to be enrolled in the Student Health Insurance Program (SHIP) to get tested or be assessed by UHS. There is no out-of-pocket cost to be tested at UHS, it is covered by the university and/or insurance as part of the public health and safety measures to stop the spread of coronavirus.

If you have tested positive through another medical provider or testing location, please call the University Health Services CONFIDENTIAL line at 510-643-8227 to inform our clinical teams.

Away From Campus?

If you are away from campus and aren't able to get tested, you can inform Residential Conduct and Community Standards using this form. Having this information will help us avoid referring you into the Residential Conduct process, while you are temporarily away. As a reminder, travel is to be avoided as much as possible; if you do travel, you are expected to self-sequester for ten days when you return.

Contact Tracing, Isolation, and Quarantine

When a member of UC Berkeley’s residential community tests positive for COVID-19 (or has been in close contact with someone who has), several UC Berkeley campus offices work together to provide assistance with health and wellness needs, housing and residential support, cleaning, and meals. Read about public health provisions in campus housing for information about contact tracing, isolation, and quarantine.

Expectations for Residents

The campus requires you to abide by pandemic mitigating measures — even when engaging with your student residential household grouping. 

You are expected to:

  • Self-sequester for ten days when you move in or when you return from a trip. You may also be asked to self-sequester if you have been exposed to someone with COVID-19, or are directed to do so by UHS.
  • Wear a face covering that covers both the nose and mouth unless you are inside your room, brushing your teeth, taking a shower, or eating. 
  • Maintain a physical distance of six feet or more at all times.
  • Respect the needs of those in your residential household grouping (students sharing the same restroom as you), follow shared community expectations, and communicate with one another regularly. Use the University Health Services best practices as a guiding point. 
  • Only interact with students within your residential household grouping when indoors (no one else). 
  • Do not visit the spaces of other residential household groupings, even those in your building (for example visiting other floors or other suites), unless you are using the laundry room or going to the front desk. 
  • Respect the Residential Code of Conduct no guest policy. No guests beyond your residential household grouping are allowed in your room; this includes visitors from other residential household groupings within your building.
  • Follow local public health ordinances, such as wearing a face covering or physical distancing, when leaving your residence hall. If you are not wearing a face covering in the City of Berkeley, you can be fined up to $500 a day.*
  • Follow testing requirements and recommendations, as shared by University Health Services
  • Frequently wash your hands.

You are expected to avoid engaging with anyone outside of your residential household grouping (this includes traveling home to visit family or visiting friends or partners who are not in your household grouping). In the event that you need to come in close contact (within 6 feet, without wearing a facial covering, for over 15 minutes) with people beyond your household grouping we would expect you to self-sequester for a week after and you would not be able to re-engage with your student residential household grouping until after self-sequestering again. Remember that parents, supporters, guests, and visitors are not permitted and should stay away from campus. Student organizations of any size will not be considered a household grouping and are prohibited from gathering in-person, on or off campus.

*Effective September 17, 2020, a Berkeley city ordinance allows the civil enforcement of local health officer orders, including fines for anyone not wearing a facial covering. Individuals can be cited up to $100 a day for a first-time violation, with penalties up to $500 per day for repeat offenses.

Cleaning Measures

Our outstanding and dedicated housing custodial team is dedicated to ensuring a high level of cleanliness and sanitation to reduce the risk of virus transmission. The University’s required health and safety measures include cleaning our spaces consistent with public health recommendations and OSHA guidelines for disinfection. In residence hall and university-owned apartment areas maintained by our custodial teams, we established more frequent cleaning of communal spaces and touch points many months back and will continue with this. During the academic year, our custodial teams do not service or enter private spaces such as bedrooms. For private spaces, including students’ rooms and certain apartment common spaces, cleanliness and sanitation will remain the responsibility of residents.

Frequent cleaning of common and high traffic areas will be provided, but students living in campus housing are required to abide by the Expectations for Residents listed above.

For the 2020-21 academic year, we have designated space in campus housing for any students who may be directed by University Health Services (UHS) to isolate or quarantine. Learn more about contact tracing, isolation and quarantine procedures.  

Residential Experience in 2020–21

The residential experience for students living in UC Berkeley campus housing for 2020–21 looks different than in past years, as we navigate a “new normal” during the COVID-19 pandemic and adjust our plans based upon the latest guidance from public health officials. Your safety and well-being are of paramount importance. Our staff at Residential Life remain committed to offering programs, services, and opportunities to build community with your peers and with student residential hall staff. Engagement takes place online, subject to resumption of in person, on-campus activities if pandemic conditions improve.

Residents are accountable for knowing and adhering to both the UC Berkeley Student Code of Conduct and the Residential Code of Conduct, which is a subset of the Berkeley code. If there is a conflict between the Residential Code of Conduct and the state of California shelter in place order, you must adhere to the shelter in place order while it is in effect.

Residential and Apartment Household Groupings

Students are assigned to a household grouping to help them more easily create a community with those living near them. Each grouping will include no more than 12 students. 

Residential household groupings are the group of students who share the same restroom. Apartment household groupings are the group of students who share the same apartment. Note that in apartments with double bedrooms, two students share a bedroom; this is permitted because the apartment constitutes a small household grouping.

After the self-sequester period ends, you are able to engage with students in your household groupings in the following ways while still abiding to the pandemic mitigating measures noted above (such as wearing face coverings and physical distancing):

  • Visit each other’s rooms
  • Exercise with each other outside

Note: if you reside in a mini suite and do not currently share a bathroom with other students, or if you reside in an apartment by yourself, Res Life staff will reach out to you individually to discuss how to engage in a larger household group. 

Residential Programs and Engagement 

Students living in the residence halls are supported by Res Life staff members. Res Life staff members organize two community meetings a semester with students (at the beginning and at the end, both planned to be virtual this semester). They also organize virtual programming throughout the year. Students can stay up to date on program offerings through the Res Life newsletter or Instagram

Daily Symptom Screener 

Students in UC residential spaces will now also be required to complete a daily symptoms screener. You can access the Daily Symptom Screener in one of a variety of ways:

Note that essential student researchers and student workers (e.g. RAs, TPRAs, and SRAs) who must work on campus also are required to complete a symptom screener every day before entering campus.

Take the Keep Berkeley Healthy Pledge

All students who come onto campus or other UC Berkeley property are required to accept the Keep Berkeley Healthy Pledge in Cal Central. The pledge will be required for access to on-campus buildings and services when they are open (for example: The Student Union, libraries, or classrooms). The pledge creates a shared understanding of the expectations between the University and Berkeley students and holds students accountable for the measures that will be taken to protect the community. UC Berkeley staff and faculty are required to abide by similar regulations. Students who do not acknowledge reviewing the pledge will not be permitted on campus or other UC Berkeley property. For students moving into campus housing, the expectations are outlined in the Residential Code of Conduct.  

Cal Dining Meal Service

Cal Dining is committed to supporting and nourishing the Berkeley community during this challenging and uncertain time. Our goal is to provide high-quality dining options, while following CDC, the City of Berkeley Public Health, and California Department of Public Health requirements. The dining commons are open for to-go meals only. View updated hours and locations, and COVID-19 related updates. During the self-sequester period, all students living in residence halls or with an off-campus meal plan will receive breakfast, lunch, and dinner on weekdays, and brunch and dinner on weekends, regardless of which meal plan you have purchased. Every student living in the residence halls is automatically registered for a blue plan. Learn more about how to upgrade your meal plan or add flex dollars.

If you have questions regarding meal distribution logistics, dietary restrictions, and/or accommodations, please contact caldining@berkeley.edu

Rates for 2020–21 Housing Contracts

As of July 20, in response to developments in public health conditions and due to density restrictions aligned with public health guidelines, all residence hall rooms (double, triple, and quad) have been converted to single rooms, and rates for these converted rooms have changed accordingly. Converted rooms will retain the size and furniture of the double, triple, or quad room, but will house a single resident. New rates for the converted rooms are reflected on the Rates page.  

Cancellations and Relief

Updated as of 12/9/20

Unless ordered otherwise by the public health officials, we currently intend to keep the residential halls and apartments open as they are the primary residence for many students. Students were given an opportunity in July to cancel their housing contracts without penalty.  Students who accepted a housing contract agreed to the contract’s terms and conditions.  However, in recognition of the situation with respect to COVID-19, we are offering modified cancellation options, described below. UPDATE for 2020-2021 contracts, only: 

  • You must pay a cancellation fee of $300, plus the cost of room and board for the days you were in UC housing (approximately $75 per day, depending on your unit), but you will not be financially responsible for the remainder of room and board charges under your housing contract.  In order to be considered for a cancellation, students must complete the contract cancellation request form, move all items out of their room, and return their keys to the main desk of their unit/ complex.

To learn how to cancel your contract, visit the Forms and Contracts page.

Financial Aid and Housing

Financial aid residence hall budgets and aid offers will be increased to reflect the average room and board costs of the room types available this year, which have changed due to COVID-19. This average room and board cost will be an updated increased average and not the actual cost for you. You will receive a notification when your new actual budget and aid package is available in CalCentral. For more information on financial aid questions relating to housing, please visit the COVID-19 Support Updates page of the Financial Aid website.

FAQs

Health & Safety FAQs
If I test positive for COVID-19, will I have to leave campus?

No, UC Berkeley provides dedicated isolation and quarantine housing for students who test positive for COVID-19 or who may have been exposed to it. If you are living in a campus residence hall and you test positive for COVID-19, you will need to move out from your residence hall for a period of isolation; campus apartment residents may also need to move temporarily if you cannot safely isolate at home. It is strongly advised that you take advantage of UC Berkeley’s specialized isolation space at the Foothill Housing complex so that we can best support your ongoing needs, physical, mental, and otherwise. Learn more about the campus' isolation and quarantine housing.

What is expected of students while self-sequestering?

Sequestering is a preventative health measure where people intentionally restrict their movement to avoid physical contact with others. At the end of Move-in days, students will be expected to begin self-sequestering practices.

During sequestering, you will be expected to:

  • Wear a face covering that covers both the nose and mouth unless you are inside your room, brushing your teeth, taking a shower, or eating.
  • Stay in your room as often as possible. Only leave your room to participate in essential activities (for example to purchase food, participate in low-risk individual outdoor recreational activity, obtain health care services, or pick up a prescription).
  • Follow local public health ordinances when leaving your residence hall.
  • Follow expectations specific to your assigned residential household grouping, which will be facilitated by Res Life staff.
  • In general, avoid physical contact with anyone unless it is essential.

At the end of your Move In day, only residents and staff will be allowed access to your building. The self-sequestering time period ranges from 7–10 days. You will be tested a second time, seven days after the start of your sequestration period. Your sequestration period will end when your second test comes back negative. Following the sequestration period you will be able to engage with your student residential household grouping, while still practicing pandemic mitigation measures.

Can students in residence halls go off campus and have meals with families? Can they go home on the weekend or go back and forth between the residential halls and their family’s house?

County public health officials recommend that if people interact with anyone outside their immediate household, they should form fixed household groupings to minimize contact with others. The officials recommend that people should maintain household groupings for at least three weeks and that each person can belong to only one bubble at a time. Switching household groupings would require periods of no contact to avoid the spread. For most students, this would not be realistic.

Is any socialization outside of residential household groupings not allowed? Will students be able to visit friends in different buildings or on different floors?

No, we do not support students interacting in-person with other people outside of their residential or apartment household grouping. If you do spend time with people outside of your residential household grouping, keep in mind that you must abide by the City of Berkeley’s public health orders, which change frequently; as of December 2020, these orders prohibit any social gathering of people outside the same household. In the event that you need to come in close contact (within 6 feet, without wearing a facial covering, for over 15 minutes) with people beyond your household grouping we would expect you to self-sequester for a week after and you would not be able to re-engage with your student residential household grouping until after self-sequestering again.  After the self-sequester period (when you must avoid contact with all others), you may socialize with members of your household grouping by visiting each other’s rooms or spending time outside (while still wearing face coverings and maintaining physical distancing). You may not socialize in campus residence halls and apartments with anyone outside of your own residential household grouping. 

Residential Life offers online engagement opportunities to foster community and connection for students in different household groupings. In addition, UC Berkeley’s various student services continue to be available to students via remote options including virtual study jams, remote movie nights, “Coffee & Career” video chats, online fitness and art classes, and student-led programs and activities.

Can parents visit students in the residence halls?

After Move-In, no guest access to the residence hall is permitted, in order to reduce the risk of infection.

What if I’m going out of town and I can’t get tested during that time?

In general, travel is to be avoided as much as possible during the pandemic as it has been shown to have a significant effect on the increase in transmission of the virus. If you must travel and you are unable to maintain your testing requirements, you may be contacted by Residential Life through the conduct process. We have created a form in Roompact called Notice of Short Term Absence from Housing, and you can access the form at this link. This form is available during the times when surveillance testing is required. Having this information will help us avoid referring you into the Residential Conduct process, while you are temporarily away.

Why do I have to wear a mask while I’m with my own residential household grouping?

Wearing a mask significantly reduces the risk of disease spread within your residential household grouping and beyond. In addition, keep in mind that household groupings are not closed circles; there are also residence hall staff and custodial staff who spend time in these spaces.

Are RAs and staff required to get tested? How often?

Yes, Residential Assistants (RAs) and professional Residential Life staff are required to get tested twice a week, the same as other residents. 

Are students informed of all COVID positive cases in their building?

No, you will only be notified if someone from your own residential household grouping tests positive. In that case, you will be notified only that you have been exposed (but the person who tested positive will not be named). UHS contact tracers will reach out to you, and most likely you will be temporarily transferred to quarantine housing.

Residential Life FAQs
Who can live on campus in 2020-21?

Campus leaders have advised that if you can live and learn remotely, you should do so. Students who determine that university housing is the best option for their personal circumstances can opt to live on campus. Cal Housing will continue to operate and staff will be on site to assist residents. We still have space available, so if your original living arrangements have changed, you can still apply to live in campus housing.

What kind of support is there for students living in residence halls?

Professional Residential Life staff and resident assistants (RAs) live and work on site in the residence halls. All staff will receive new training to be able to comply with public health mandates. Support will be provided remotely as much as possible. Residence hall staff will still respond onsite for community safety, for handling lockouts, and for emergency situations in cases where support cannot be offered remotely. They will also build community and engagement via online events.

Does each floor still have an RA? Does the RA organize any introductions or group activities, however small?

There are Resident Advisors this year and each resident is assigned a Hall Staff member. Hall Staff begin the semester with Community Chats and messaging to establish group connection, community norms, and safety information.

What kind of engagement or social events are available in the residence halls?

The Residential Life team is working hard to develop fun and innovative ways to build community and engagement through online events. In the spring 2020 semester, they delivered over 150 programs online, and have continued developing new offerings this summer. Residence hall staff will help residents build relationships with each other and provide community connections to online events, such as Community Chats, bulletin boards, emails, and group text chats. They will still host lots of community-centered programs such as treasure hunts, parades, patio decorating contests, courtyard singalongs, art projects, etc. Residence Hall staff will begin the year with Community Chats to establish group connection, community norms, and safety information. They will also conduct video conversations with every resident (“Bear Chats”). Students will also have the benefit of living amongst and in close proximity to our Resident Faculty. Our Theme Programs will also continue. Other engagement opportunities include participating in our residential leadership and government programs.

Housing Contract FAQs
Can I still get a meal plan if I choose to live on campus?

Absolutely! All residence hall contracts come with the blue plan and students living in off-campus housing or university-owned/affiliated apartments can purchase an off-campus meal plan.

I have a housing contract but I have requested to change my housing/room type from one type to another. How is this process affected?

See the Forms & Contracts page for the most up-to-date information on room transfers. We anticipate that the need for sequestering related to COVID-19 will impact the number of room changes we can offer.

Can I change my residential household grouping?

Information on how to request a room change can be found on the Forms page. In general, due to the complexities of arranging for separate sequestering of residential household groupings, room changes are strongly discouraged during the COVID-19 pandemic.

If I live in a mini-suite, suite or apartment, who is in my residential household grouping? What if I want to be part of a larger grouping?

Apartment, suite and mini-suite household groupings are the group of students who share the same apartment, suite or mini-suite. We understand that often these are very small groupings and that many students would like to be part of a larger group; however, due to the strict need for contact tracing and maintaining separate groups, we are unable to arrange for larger residential household groupings. If you do have a concern about your household grouping, please contact your building’s Residential Director.

Occupancy FAQs
Will the common areas in university housing (lounges, study rooms, gyms, etc.) be open this year?

Common areas such as as lounges and study spaces have not been open during the 2020-21 academic year, and based on.

We are not certain if fitness centers or gyms will open this academic year. Under current shelter-in-place mandates, Alameda County is not currently approved to open public gym or fitness centers.

Please keep in mind that whether common spaces open and remain open will depend on student compliance with regulations on how these spaces are used and public health/safety.

What are the changes to graduate apartment and family housing options?

No occupancy changes; single undergraduate apartments, graduate housing, and the family complex at University Village remain the same.

Why are double rooms allowed in apartments but not in residence halls?

The current Public Health Order allows for residential household groupings of 10 to 12 people, with restrictions stating that people can only participate in one grouping for in-person interactions.  Students living in an apartment are part of a small household grouping, sharing their living room, bathroom, kitchen, etc. Residence halls are larger spaces with more residents.

Will single rooms that are converted from doubles, triples, and quads still have the original furnishings?

Yes, converted rooms will retain the size and furniture of the double, triple, or quad room, but will house only one resident.

 

Do single rooms in a residential hall have a bathroom included?

No. Students will have access to a communal bathroom facility, which will be cleaned frequently.

How will communal bathrooms in residential halls be handled? How will occupancy in communal bathrooms be regulated?

Students are required to use a face covering while using communal bathrooms to the extent that wearing one does not interfere with their hygiene activities such as teeth brushing and showering. Students will be required to wear a face covering in the hallways and common areas. We are managing bathroom use and capacity through the reduction of density of residents, and we are following California recommendations for higher education and our campus health experts regarding our communal bathrooms.

Financial FAQs
The COVID-19 pandemic has made it difficult for me to pay my advance deposit. What should I do?

If you're unable to pay your advance deposit because of COVID-19, please email reshall@berkeley.edu to request an exception or reduced amount.

I am now in a single occupancy residential hall room. Will I end up paying more because of this?

In general, students will be charged the same as if they occupied a double room. 

UC Berkeley has many configurations of rooms in the residential halls ranging from singles to quads with the majority being doubles (two people) and triples (three people). Because of COVID-19, all students in the residential halls will have single occupancy (they will get their own room). However, some of the rooms may be larger as they were designed to accommodate multiple people. To create a more equitable experience for students, we have modified our rates to benefit students. 

Students who are in the smallest standard rooms designed for just one person will actually be charged less than they would during a traditional school year; they will be charged $12,450, several thousand dollars less than what we would normally charge ($14,870) for housing, plus $5,300 for a required meal plan year. Students who are by themselves in standard rooms designed for two people (doubles) will be charged the same as if they had a roommate; they will be charged $12,865 for housing and $5,300 for a required meal plan year, the same they would if this was a traditional school year. Students who are by themselves in standard rooms designed for three people (triples) will be charged the same rate as students occupying a double room; they will also be charged $12,865 for housing and $5,300 for a required meal plan year. While this is more than what they would be charged if three people were occupying the space, they are also benefiting from more space and privacy.

I am now in a single occupancy mini-suite in the residential halls. Will I end up paying more because of this?

In general, students will be charged the same as if they occupied a double room in a mini-suite.

UC Berkeley has many configurations of mini-suites in the residential halls with doubles (two people sharing a bedroom) and triples (three people sharing a bedroom). Some triple mini-suites are smaller while others are larger. Because of COVID-19, all bedrooms in the residential halls will be single occupancy (each student in a mini-suite will get their own bedroom, and will share a bathroom with only the other student in the mini-suite). However, some of the spaces may be larger spaces as they were designed to accommodate multiple people. To create a more equitable experience for students, we have modified our rates to benefit students. 

Students who are by themselves in a mini-suite room designed for two people will pay the same as they would if they had a roommate during a traditional school year; they will be charged  $15,000 for housing and $5,300 for a required meal plan year. Students who are by themselves in smaller mini-suite rooms designed for three people (triples) will be charged the same rate as students occupying a double mini-suite room; they will be charged $15,000 for housing and $5,300 for a required meal plan year. While this is more than what they would pay if three people were occupying the space, they are also benefiting from more space and privacy. Students who are by themselves in larger mini-suite rooms designed for three people (triples) will be charged slightly more; they will be charged $15,550 for housing and $5,300 for a required meal plan year. As their triple mini-suite has more space than the smaller triple mini-suites, they will pay $550, or roughly $55 extra each installment, for this extra space.