Detailed update on fall planning

To:  UC Santa Cruz faculty and staff

From: Lori Kletzer, Campus Provost and Executive Vice Chancellor; Herbie Lee, Vice Provost, Academic Affairs; Tracy Larrabee, chair Committee on Educational Policy; Yat Li, chair, Committee on Courses of Instruction; Don Smith, chair, Graduate Council

We write to follow up last week’s message with more details on our planning process for fall quarter instruction. More details are available at

Several principles guide our planning:

  • We will operate in a manner that prioritizes the health and wellbeing of our University community and our Santa Cruz neighbors.

  • Students who may be fully remote should be able to continue making academic progress.

  • Departments and colleges should work with their instructors, their program faculty, their division, and the academic senate to determine the appropriate mix of remote, on-line, and in-person instruction.

  • All plans are subject to change depending on public health guidance and regulations. Statewide and county guidance may place additional limits on our operations.

Our planning involves two key local starting points: (1) Classrooms will operate at approximately 50 percent capacity due to distancing and ventilation requirements; (2) On-campus housing will operate at approximately two-thirds occupancy capacity. 

Flexibility is critical; our assumptions and starting points could be impacted by a host of factors including the speed of the vaccination rollout across our communities. If there are challenges that delay the rollout, we will need to make adjustments to the mix of instructional modalities, classrooms, and housing capacity. 

Fall 2021 instruction will include a mix of remote, online, and in-person instruction. Courses that are scheduled now and in the coming weeks as remote for student enrollment will be offered remotely in fall 2021 - due to the complexities of classroom scheduling, there will not be a process for changing remote courses to in-person courses for fall ‘21. Those same scheduling complexities dictate that courses desired to have in-person components should be scheduled as in-person now. For scheduled in-person courses, we need to maintain flexibility in regard to classroom capacity modifications or an overall need to shift to remote instruction prior to the start of instruction if health guidance or other factors require changes in plans.

As co-signatories of this memo, the Committee on Educational Policy (CEP), Committee on Courses of Instruction (CCI), and Graduate Council (GC) are delegating authority for approval of remote offering of courses to course sponsoring agencies for fall 2021. Fully online courses continue to require review and approval by CCI. Noting that students may have difficulties meeting some program requirements during the pandemic, CEP, CCI, and GC are also prepared to receive and review in a timely way any requests from department chairs and program directors for temporary modifications of program requirements resulting from the COVID-19 pandemic. CEP, CCI, and GC will be sending out another letter with a more complete description of resources and processes for the fall soon. This will include guidelines for approving future online synchronous and hybrid courses. 

Departments should offer sufficient remote or online course capacity so that students can make progress toward their major or major selection and qualification while remaining remote. Departments are encouraged to ensure that “packages” of remote/online courses reflecting standard major qualification pathways are available for first and second year students in their majors, and to communicate these to their prospective majors.

Classes with more than 100 students should be planned and scheduled now to be remote or online. Courses can have in-person or remote discussion sections, or a mixture of options, conditional on the availability of in-person classrooms. Due to the current planning cap at 50% of classroom capacity, all units on campus are encouraged to be creative in the use of the spaces they control, maximizing the use of available non-General-Assignment spaces such as meeting rooms for instruction, where possible. 

Course meetings (primary or secondary sections) should generally be planned for all students to be either in-person or remote/online, rather than using “mixed delivery”, with some students in person and some remote at the same time in the same course meeting. Course sponsors can plan separate offerings of a course so that there are both in-person and remote/online options. For small graduate courses, the “mixed delivery” method may be easier to implement, and program instructors will retain the flexibility to consider this mode of instruction.

Instructors will have the opportunity to design courses with both asynchronous online material and in-person classroom interaction, to engage each student in multiple modalities. For example, by moving lectures to an online format, in-person sessions could focus on active learning. By having half of the class attend these in-person activities one day per week and half on another day of the week, a larger enrollment could be supported. Departments and instructors will have flexibility in these choices.

Please keep in mind the importance of in-person experiences for first year students in support of the transition to college, as well as for second-year students who have not yet had any in-person UC Santa Cruz courses. These could be in-person discussion or secondary lab sections for large courses, or a large course could be offered as two separate sections, one in-person and another remote.

Department and Program Chairs and College Provosts should work with instructors to determine the modalities of their courses. To the extent possible, chairs and provosts should accommodate instructor preferences to teach remotely or online when these modalities are feasible for the achievement of course learning objectives. Divisional Offices can be an important resource in these discussions. 

If course sponsors elect to offer in-person secondary discussion sections at 50% capacity, careful consideration should be made that TA duties and responsibilities are consistent with the collective bargaining agreement, including the description of duties form and assigned workload maximum per quarter.

Our planning principles underscore flexibility, community well-being, COVID mitigation, and ensuring educational access as we learn to work together in a new environment. Our plans continue to be subject to change due to variable public health regulations. We are committed to transparent communication and the prioritization of health and well-being. 

We have provided some of the key points here. For more details, please visit We acknowledge that there is a large amount of uncertainty in what conditions will be in the fall, and we offer these guidelines and principles to enable planning, while recognizing that plans may need to change. We welcome questions and concerns.