Remote and Resolute: How UCLA Re-imagined Instruction in Response to COVID-19


California recorded its first COVID-19 death on March 4, 2020. The following day, Santa Clara County recommended canceling major events. On March 9, a cruise ship carrying dozens of infected passengers belatedly docked in Oakland. Meanwhile, Italy, buckling under an uncontrolled outbreak, announced a nationwide quarantine.

At UCLA, top officials monitored those events with growing concern. Finals week was in mid-March, and Chancellor Gene Block initially hoped to keep the campus open during the exams. As the data poured in, that grew untenable.

“It became evident that for every day we waited, we put the community at risk,” says Michael Beck, administrative vice chancellor.

On March 10, Block ordered in-class instruction halted. UCLA’s bustling campus suddenly fell quiet. As students vacated Westwood, within two weeks, on-campus housing went from serving nearly 13,400 students to about 700.

“Things happened very quickly,” the chancellor said reflectively in an interview months later.

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