Frequently Asked Questions - Instructor FAQ fall 2021

About this FAQ

The following answers reflect the most current planning on our campus for Fall 2021 instruction. Although subsequent developments in public health guidance may necessitate changes, these answers are intended to provide the best and most up-to-date basis for instructional planning.

This document will be supplemented and updated as needed on an ongoing basis. If you would like to propose an additional question, or if you have other additions or corrections, please email

Last updated 05/24/21.

Important additional resources

This document lists questions commonly encountered by instructors. Instructors are also strongly encouraged to read through the Instruction FAQ for Students on the Office of the Registrar website, which also provides up-to-date information but focuses on the students’ perspective on instructional issues.

Helpful guides and strategies for remote teaching can be found on the Keep Teaching website, along with links to important updates and communications as they become available.

The online resources for Reading & Composition instructors includes a good deal of information of general interest.

For further general ongoing updates on the campus response to the COVID-19 pandemic, see this campus listing of resources and support.

Note: Campus administration announced on 3/16/2021 that for the Fall 2021 semester most classes would be taught in person. The exceptions are classes with enrollment over 200, classes already designed and approved as online courses, and classes that receive permission to be taught remotely during Fall 2021. All plans announced 3/16/2021 are subject to change as public health or other conditions necessitate.

A second message on 4/14/2021 provided more information about Fall 2021 planning and links for those who wish to request an exception from in-person instruction. The EVCP’s office encourages all instructors to review this Remote Accommodations Guidance for Instruction which includes an overview of exceptions to the default in-person modality, and notes on temporary shifts to emergency remote instruction, and exams. Instructors who need to request an exception should read the guidance document and the detailed Exception to In-person Instruction: Process document. 


What are the criteria for determining who will be able to opt for remote teaching in the fall? What is the timeline?

We only expect three major categories of classes to be offered remotely (in addition to those approved by COCI as online courses), and each will have its own timeline. (1) Classes over 200 students are already approved for remote instruction. (2) Classes where the instructor requires a medical or disability accommodation will proceed through the normal process, as described at, which can occur at any time. (3) A small number of additional courses which circumstances require to be taught remotely will also be approved. Those requests should be submitted using this processSee campus guidance here.


How was enrollment of 200 determined to be the cutoff for in-person vs. remote instruction?

200 was chosen because it was the maximum gathering size permitted on campus under “yellow tier” under the public safety tiers as they applied in January 2021, when this planning began. Although we now expect that by fall this cap will no longer be in place, we are keeping the 200 enrollment cut-off because many people have already oriented themselves to it and made plans based on it.

My class usually enrolls 225 students. Can I change the maximum enrollment to 200 so that I can teach in person rather than remotely in the fall?

Changing the maximum enrollment is at the discretion of the department, in consultation with the instructor.

Is the 200 person cutoff based on the capacity of my class, the actual enrollment for my class, or the number of students who typically attend in person?

The 200 student cut-off is based on the enrollment cap as listed in the schedule of classes.

If all of my teaching in Fall 2021 is remote, am I required to be in residence in the Fall? Does “in residence” mean I must work from my office, or can I continue to teach from home or other off-campus location?

In accordance with APM 730, “Academic personnel appointed on an academic-year basis are expected to be in residence from the day designated in the University Calendar as the opening of the Fall term through the end of the Spring term.” That means that you must be physically present in Berkeley, participating in the academic community of your department or school. However, if your course is required by circumstances to be remote, your remote teaching itself may occur from home or another off-campus location.

I would like to do a mix of in-person and remote teaching for my Fall 2021 class, with some sessions in person and some via Zoom. Do I need permission to hold some of my class sessions remotely? Does it depend on how many sessions are remote vs in-person?

COCI approval is required for courses that (a) do not fall under the campus remote instruction guidelines but plan to include online components (e.g., lecture, discussion, lab), and/or (b) plan to include online components in future semesters, after emergency remote instruction has ended. In other words, if you are planning only occasional remote sessions, you do not need to ask for permission, but remember that communication with students is key and that you will need to alert students to this possibility at the start of the semester so that they may make remote arrangements on their end (finding a space; wifi, devices and other technical requirements).

I teach a large-enrollment class in which many students attend asynchronously by accessing the Course Capture. If my course enrollment is over 200, will I be able to teach in a large on-campus classroom while still having the students attending remotely?

No, unfortunately, because the large classrooms are in high demand.

If I am teaching a class that must be remote, can I have on-campus space in which to teach? I do not have my own office on campus and/or to be effective in teaching, I need access to facilities that can’t be duplicated in my home or campus space.

If you are teaching a class that must be remote and you do not have a suitable space from which to teach, first speak to your department chair or professional school dean.  The EVCP has asked the dept chairs to "consider designating some underutilized, departmentally-controlled spaces for use by lecturers, GSIs, or other instructors who may not have private offices, for recording remote lectures or engaging in virtual office hours. Most departments and schools will be able to provide suitable space. Chairs and deans who are not able to accommodate the needs for space from which to conduct remote instruction should contact Digital Learning Services.

If I am teaching from my on-campus office, what is the status of the wifi? In the past, it has been spotty at best and certainly not capable of a sustained zoom session.

If you are teaching a class that must be remote and you do not have adequate wifi from your on-campus office, first speak to your department chair or professional school dean. Most departments and schools will be able to resolve wifi challenges. Chairs and deans who are not able to address locally inadequate wifi problems should contact Jenn Stringer (Associate Vice Chancellor for IT and CIO).

Will I be able to conduct in-person midterm and final exams, even if my large-enrollment class is mandated to be taught remotely?

In Fall 2021, if your large-enrollment class will be offered remotely but will offer students the option to enroll in in-person discussion sections or labs, then you should plan to offer those students in-person exams. There may be an option for instructors to schedule in-person exams for remote class sections, to be taken by students who live on or near campus and wish to take exams in-person but are not enrolled in any in-person components of the course. More details about the possibility of reserving space for in-person exams will be forthcoming from the Office of the Registrar. Departments are encouraged to prioritize the use of departmental space for in-person exams covered in this question as General Assignment space is limited.

Is it acceptable to have office hours online rather than in person?

Yes, though the key here is communication with your students and ensuring that the mode of delivery of office hours supports their learning. In addition, keep in mind that instructors are expected to be in residence (physically on campus).

My course is approved as a course with a final exam, but I would instead like to have students do a final project or paper. Do I need anyone’s permission in order to make that change?

Your department chair has the authority to make a one-time exception to the final exam requirement. To make that change permanent requires COCI approval.

If I am teaching an in-person class with enrollment under 200, what are the circumstances under which I would have to pivot to remote instruction in Fall 2021?

If the public health situation dramatically deteriorates, or if fires, power outages, or other challenges require campus to be temporarily closed, you may need to pivot to remote instruction. It is possible that other conditions that we have not yet thought of could also require us to return to remote instruction.

How should I approach the teaching of my course if the Air Quality Index from wildfire smoke forces campus to close?

As we did in fall 2019, if campus is forced to close because of fires, you should conduct your class remotely.

What is “remote instruction” and how does it differ from “teaching an online course”?

“Remote instruction” applies to the emergency online delivery of an in-person course as part of the campus COVID-19 emergency response. An online course is a course that has been  approved by COCI for online delivery in a typical, non-emergency semester. On this distinction and its implications see also COCI’s Statement on Fall 2021 Instruction.

Do changes made to adapt a course to remote instruction need COCI approval?

No, changes made to adapt a course to remote instruction do not need COCI approval. Remote instruction is a temporary, emergency measure for the duration of the COVID-19 crisis, not a permanent change to the course. COCI, therefore, considers a course offered via remote instruction as part of the campus COVID-19 emergency response to be the same course as initially approved. Accordingly, COCI approval is not required. See COCI’s Statement on Fall 2021 Instruction.

Teaching my course remotely worked out well for the students. If I prefer to teach online rather than in person not just in Fall 2021 but permanently, what do I need to submit to COCI and by when in order to get the course approved as an online course?

When you submit your course modification proposal in CMS, you will need to provide information about what is expected of students in the online version of your course. COCI has provided guidelines that should be considered when proposing an online course in COCI Handbook 2.5 Web-based and Online Courses. The schedule for COCI review can be found here.

How should I treat the designated workload and contact hours for my course as I adapt it for remote instruction?

Generally, it is desirable that the experience of a course offered via remote instruction mirror that of an in-person class as closely as feasible. Given the vast diversity of both courses and clienteles across campus, however, in practice, instructors will need to be flexible and agile in making the best choices for their own circumstances. A basic principle is that a course’s workload, as laid out in COCI’s guidelines on Designation of Unit Value, should remain in line with that for a non-emergency semester. Although synchronous remote instruction may often be the closest approximation to “class contact time,” in some circumstances (e.g., students in widely disparate time zones), rigidly matching synchronous instruction hours to the weekly class contact hours specified in the course’s catalog description may not be the best or most practical option. In particular, instructors should be careful not simply to assign asynchronous instructional activities in addition to normal workload expectations. See also COCI’s Statement on Fall 2021 Instruction).

Are there particular issues I should bear in mind in relation to DSP accommodations?

The following are some of the most common situations. For further information, you may also consult DSP’s own FAQ for Faculty, which includes useful guidance specific to remote instruction, along with Creating Accessible Content.

  1. Two of the most common issues relating to online instruction are poor audio and video quality of recorded classes and a need for captioning. 
    1. On audio and video quality: you can request equipment (e.g., microphones and cameras) for remote instruction via the “Get Equipped” link on the Keep Teaching website. Beyond technology, be mindful of the need to speak clearly and at an appropriate pace. Remember that some students are aided by seeing your mouth, so if you are screen sharing a whiteboard or powerpoint, consider having two devices so that you can also have a webcam trained on your face.
    2. On the need for captioning: The introduction of Kaltura, a web-based video management platform that allows UC Berkeley instructors, students and staff to upload, edit, manage and share videos and other media, is expected to help. Note that processing times for captioning may not be immediate, so uploaded pre-recorded videos may not immediately have captioning. Information and training is available at: 

Kaltura Service and Support

If you would like to arrange for DSP to provide captioning for your lectures, consult the link DSP, LOAs and accommodations for your students | Center for Teaching & Learning.

  1. For DSP accommodations regarding exams, quizzes, and other timed assessments, bear in mind that both bCourses and gradescope offer ways to automatically provide extended time. For students whose exam and quiz accommodations include more than extended time (scribe, etc.), contact the DSP proctoring service as soon as possible to make arrangements.
How can I address concerns relating to academic integrity as I adapt my course to remote instruction?

All disciplines are not created equal when it comes to finding ways to carry out graded assessments remotely without compromising academic integrity. In some courses, instructors may choose to replace timed exams with papers or oral presentations. Papers can be checked for plagiarism using tools available within bCourses. Oral presentations are unlikely to reflect the work of students other than the presenter. For courses that rely primarily on exams, faculty concerns about cheating are exacerbated by the lack of in-person proctoring during this time of shelter in place. For more information on remote proctoring, see the Remote Proctoring FAQ  and follow to the question below. While there is no magic solution, the Academic Senate maintains a collection of best practices for remote assessment that examines this issue, and many others, in more detail. You may also consult the overview of options for “anti-cheating” measures in online assessments provided in the Advice for Remote Teaching produced by the Division of Social Sciences’ Remote Pedagogy Task Force.

One strategy to mitigate cheating and remind students of their obligation not just to themselves but to the community is to have a statement on an exam that the student must sign. To this end, the honor code at Berkeley is simple:

 “As a member of the UC Berkeley community, I act with honesty, integrity, and respect for others.” 

The code was developed by the ASUC in conjunction with the Graduate Assembly, the Deans of Letters and Sciences, and the Academic Senate. The honor code does not preclude instructors from including statements about honesty and integrity on their exams and assessments. For example, students could be required to sign a pledge along the lines of: “I swear on my honor that I have neither given nor received aid with this assessment/exam.” Students should also be reminded that penalties for cheating on exams could be severe – failure of the course at a minimum and possibly suspension.

Concerns about academic integrity are another reason to avoid grading on a curve that predetermines what share of students receive an A, B, C, etc.: students who cheat may still get their A’s, but in the absence of a curve, their “success” will not reduce the chances for other students to get A’s as well. If you decide to grade on a curve nonetheless, be sure to inform your class how the curve will work, in particular, how the scores of students who take the class P/NP will be treated.

What resources or guidance can I refer to in adapting to a class with students who may be scattered across disparate time zones?

For how to hold exams for students who are scattered across different time zones, consult the “best practices” here: Best Practices for Remote Examinations | Academic Senate. For best practices regarding how to use asynchronous instruction effectively for students who are in time zones that make synchronous attendance difficult, see: Remote attendance & participation | Center for Teaching & Learning

To communicate via the schedule of classes that all or portions of your class allows for asynchronous participation, ask the department scheduler to tag the class as “asynchronous” and provide additional details in “class notes.”


Can I require attendance for the synchronous meeting of my remote course?

Yes. Attendance policies are at the discretion of the instructor.  

The waiver of attendance requirements was for a brief period in March 2020 when we were unexpectedly transitioning to remote instruction and students were relocating. You should inform students in writing of how you will measure attendance. Will you use Zoom’s “usage report” or some other means? If a student is muted with video off, will that count as attending? That said, you may want to consider whether you will accommodate students in different time zones or with connectivity/privacy issues. For instance, one idea is to allow a student’s absence from the synchronous meeting to be offset with a paper reflecting on that day’s readings. 

The Center for Teaching and Learning offers the following advice for best practices related to attendance in remote instruction: “We recognize that attendance and participation are, for many faculty, fundamental elements of their classes. Many faculty may have students who, due to circumstances beyond their control, find it difficult to consistently engage in synchronous remote instruction. Look at these alternatives to synchronous attendance and participation.”

Can I require that students attending synchronous class meetings via Zoom do so with their video turned on?

Encourage your students to keep their video turned on. If you want to require it, you must provide a no-penalty alternative for those who cannot turn their video on. You cannot impose a penalty on  those who don't comply. It's important to remember the reasons some participants keep their video off. Some participants may have privacy issues and/or may have personal reasons for not turning on their video. Some computers don’t have sufficient bandwidth to manage a meeting in which everyone’s video is on, especially if several people in a household are sharing a single internet connection. Moreover, a video requirement can create a great deal of stress for some students.

If you do require "video on," you should provide in writing a clear pedagogical rationale (on your syllabus or other course document) why video presence is essential in your class (or during certain parts of your class). Because there still may be students who cannot turn their video on, you should also develop alternative ways of assessing the extent to which students are engaged and participating. For instance, you might require them to submit questions and comments in the “chat” or orally, or complete an assignment that asks them to reflect on some aspect of the synchronous class session, etc. The important thing is to be very clear about what your video requirements are, to provide pedagogical justification for those requirements, and to provide an alternative for students who cannot comply.


Where can I find guidance on problems I encounter teaching via Zoom?

Please visit the Zoom for Instruction Service and Support pages at for information on getting help with Zoom for instructional purposes. In addition, a Zoom support virtual helpdesk is available from 8 am to 5 pm, Monday to Friday, for quick, just-in-time basic support help. This team will be able to connect you with the Zoom for Instruction service support for more advanced issues as well.

I am teaching a course in a remote instruction modality. Am I required to get consent from students to make recordings to share with other students enrolled in the course and faculty/staff associated with the course?

For recordings of classroom lectures/discussion sessions that will only be shared with other students enrolled in the course and faculty/staff associated with the course it is recommended that a notice regarding the recording of classroom lectures/discussion sections should be provided prior to the start of the course (in the syllabus and course materials if possible) and students should be verbally reminded prior to the first class session that the lecture/discussion section will be recorded. The notice should advise students of mechanisms within Zoom (or other video-conferencing/recording services) that will prevent their image and voice from being recorded (such as turning off video, muting audio and using the chat function for submitting questions to the instructor) should they choose to opt out of being recorded.  

Instructors are also advised to make sure that videos are closed captioned by DSP if students (including auditors) in their classes have this accommodation. For further details on ADA compliance of video recordings please see


I am teaching a course in a remote instruction modality. Am I required to get consent from students to make recordings to share with individuals (such as prospective students) who are not enrolled in the course?

For recordings that might be shared with individuals not enrolled in the course (e.g., prospective students), a notice regarding the recording of classroom lectures/discussion sections should be provided prior to the start of the course (in the syllabus and course materials if possible) and students should be verbally reminded prior to the first class session that the lecture/discussion section will be recorded. In addition, students should be provided with the capability to consent (or to withhold their consent) to the sharing of their images/voice in the recorded video with other individuals (not associated with the course). The consent language should describe with whom the recordings will be shared and the purpose of sharing the recordings. For students who opt out, they should be encouraged to mute their audio and turn off their video. Their images and voice recordings can also be edited out of a Zoom recording prior to it being shared.

Instructors are also advised to make sure that videos are closed captioned by DSP if students (including auditors) in their classes have this accommodation or they wish to post videos in public forums. For further details on ADA compliance of video recordings please see

Are my students allowed to share recorded lectures and other class materials outside of class?

No. Course materials, including recorded lectures, are intended only for in-class educational purposes and should not be shared with people outside of the class. You may want to include language to that effect on your syllabus. DSP is a general exception to this; students may share your course materials with the DSP office.

The Student Code of Conduct 102.23 Course Materials and the campus’ Classroom Note Taking and Recording Policy are relevant, the latter of which states, “...class notes and recordings are based on the intellectual effort of the instructor, who has an interest in protecting this effort and ensuring the accuracy of any public representation of his or her work. Prior approval of the instructor is required for the recording of course notes and the sharing of course notes and other class materials beyond the students enrolled in the course.” Given that many recorded lectures include audio and video of students in the course, there are potential student privacy concerns as well.

I am a GSI. Where can I find information about remote teaching for GSIs?

The Graduate Division has compiled the following document addressing some of the common concerns particular to GSIs in the changed circumstances of Fall 2020: Addressing GSI Concerns: Fall 2020 Instruction FAQ. The GSI Remote Teaching Hub is a useful centralized source of information relating particularly to issues encountered with remote instruction. GSIs may also find it useful to consult the resources for instructors compiled by the Center for Teaching and Learning, which includes situations often encountered by GSIs: Resources. First-time GSIs in particular will want to be aware of the teaching conference for first-time GSIs being offered by the Graduate Division. More generally, up to date information relevant to GSIs is available via Grad. Div’s GSI Teaching and Resource Center.

I am an instructor who works with GSIs. How can I prevent remote instruction from creating increased workload for my GSIs, as per regulations?

As noted by the Graduate Division, “As per the Graduate Council Policy on Appointments and Mentoring of GSIs, faculty members who teach with GSIs are required to meet with GSIs before the semester begins to review the course syllabus, clarify GSI responsibilities in the course, and, in the case of discussion sections and labs, describe the relationship of sections to lecture. If a course is being taught remotely, the Instructor of Record should also convey to GSIs in this meeting the number of hours per week that GSIs are expected to meet synchronously with their students and the number of hours they should devote to preparing asynchronous learning activities.

That workload expectation cannot exceed the hourly limits provided in the ASE UAW contract. GSIs should keep track of their hours. If GSIs find they are working more than allowed under the contract, they should approach their supervisor immediately so that their duties may be adjusted. Their Faculty Advisor GSI Affairs and department chair are also there to help make certain GSI workload remains within contractual parameters.”

Are instructors expected to follow “Berkeley Time”?

Instructors are expected to continue to follow “Berkeley time”: by the “Berkeley Time” convention, instruction in class meetings normally begins ten minutes after the official start time. For example, a class whose time is listed in the schedule as 10:00-10:59 begins at 10:10 and ends at 11:00. A 9:30-10:59 class runs from 9:40-11:00. While instructors and students in a remote setting do not need to travel between or “reset” classrooms, that time is still reserved for students and instructors to prepare their virtual spaces for the next course, to build in short breaks from Zoom, and to take care of any physical needs. Instructors might also consider beginning the class zoom feed on “clock time,” while delaying the formal beginning of class until “Berkeley time.” Such a window just before class for some less structured interaction (with the instructor and among the students themselves) may help make the remote instruction scenario feel a bit less impersonal.

How can I best prepare my course and my students for a power outage, particularly one which disrupts a scheduled exam?

Do your best to plan ahead and provide clear messages about how you will handle power outages and related disruptions. Let students know how you plan to communicate with them in the event of a disruption, with a method that is as robust to power outages and disruptions as possible, keeping in mind that there may be inevitable delays in sending and receiving these communications. Let students know how you expect them to handle assignments, exams, and access to course materials in the event of a disruption. Include these plans in your syllabus. Announce them verbally on Day 1. Be sure all GSIs are aware of these plans. In the week leading up to any exam, both you and your GSIs should reiterate your plans in written announcements to the students.

If you must cancel synchronous lectures because you, your GSIs, or some or all of your students are without power, you may cancel the class, or reschedule it, or provide  asynchronous materials (e.g. readings, pre-recorded lectures) once power has been restored. 

If you must reschedule an exam, try not to be in an urgent rush to complete the exam. If possible, wait at least 24-48 hours after the return of power, especially for extended outages. It is likely that you and your students will have practical concerns that may take precedence immediately after power is restored.

For more info, the Instructional Resilience Checklist contains a full list of suggestions of what to do before and after a disruption.

If my class is approved for in-person delivery, can I expect a “normal” semester of classroom instruction?

No—along with public health guidance regarding safe use of shared spaces, it will be important to bear in mind that you will need to retain a plan for moving back to remote instruction at any time if developments relating to public health (or other emergencies) render it necessary. For example, if classroom buildings are closed for a period due to smoke from a wildfire, you may be able to shift your class to remote instruction for one or two meetings. Remember that the first two weeks of Fall 2021 semester will be remote even for those classes approved for in-person instruction. 

How should instructors or their academic units handle enrollment for in-person classes, in light of the campus-wide maximum of 200 students?

Department schedulers are able to set enrollment limits on classes, so that the enrollment does not reach 200 students. However, if the enrollment limit is exceeded the department may consider 1) dropping the last student enrolled until enrollment falls within campus guidelines, 2) limiting in-person daily attendance to 199 students and providing the remaining students with remote options for obtaining a class meeting’s course content, or 3) transfer a student from an in-person meeting section to a remote meeting section. Instructors should consult with their department schedulers for additional information.

How will students find information about the mode of instruction for their classes?

The modes of instruction available in Fall 2021 are in-person, remote, hybrid, flexible, and web-based. For definitions of each, see Office of the Registrar -- Modes of Instruction. Students can find up-to-date information on the mode of instruction for each class in the Berkeley Academic Guide Class Search, the Cal Central Schedule of Classes, or the Schedule Planner. The Academic Guide Class Search is publicly available and instructions appear on the homepage. The latter two (Cal Central Schedule and the Schedule Planner) are only available within a student’s CalCentral but you can review a CalCentral enrollment guide for students. It will be helpful to make yourself familiar with those resources so that you see the students’ view on instructional formats. More generally, it is a good idea to be as detailed and specific as possible about the instructional mode of your class (e.g. how synchronous and asynchronous components of instruction will be deployed) in documents such as online course descriptions, syllabi, and so on, to allow students to make the best choices for their circumstances. Detailed and specific information that is shared with the department scheduler can be surfaced to students in the “class notes” section of the online class schedule. Advisors are regularly directing students to “class notes” for additional information.

If all my Fall 2021 teaching is scheduled to be done via remote instruction, will I be required to be in residence in Berkeley?

In accordance with APM 730, “Academic personnel appointed on an academic-year basis are expected to be in residence from the day designated in the University Calendar as the opening of the Fall term through the end of the Spring term.” Over the last year, the application of this policy has been adapted to the shelter-in-place orders that kept most of us off campus. What do we envision for the future? DIVCO does not have decision rights about how APM 730 will be interpreted going forward, but we sought to begin a conversation about the kind of university we hope for. We discussed the values we share about the importance of in-person participation in the academic life of the campus, and how those should guide our thinking about a return to normalcy on the campus after COVID-19. Over the spring, DIVCO will also discuss how we envision a post-COVID campus for staff, and Ron Cohen is chairing a committee exploring online teaching into the future. Please email us (, if you have any thoughts you want to share on these (or any!) topics. (From the Fortnightly2/5/2021: Faculty work and life after the pandemic)


I’ve been assigned a classroom for in-person teaching that has no windows that open and has poor ventilation. Can I get a different room assignment?

As noted on April 23, 2021, “the planned return to full in-person operations for the fall semester assumes that a high percentage of our campus population is vaccinated and that there are low case rates. If this is the situation, we will return to pre-pandemic use of all buildings, classrooms and other spaces regardless of ventilation status.”