Fall 2020 Update

We are living in extraordinary times as we continue to face the challenges posed by the COVID-19 pandemic and now, in the wake of the murder of George Floyd, witness a massive response in the streets to the murders of African American people and centuries of systemic violence against Black people in this country. In the midst of this season of disruption and change, the faculty and staff at PLTS have been deliberating on the plans for the fall 2020 semester even as we continue to reflect on how we will work to dismantle racism and create a more equitable and just society. As you prepare for the coming academic year at PLTS we know you have also been deeply affected by these events. 

In early March, PLTS transitioned to virtual instruction, and in mid-June we are still sheltering in place and working from home in the Bay Area. Given that health officials have indicated that the COVID-19 health crisis will be with us through the fall, we have decided to deliver the courses that had been scheduled face-to-face for the fall 2020 semester virtually.  There will be no change for Distributed Learning students.  The first-year courses that were planned to be offered asynchronously, will still be offered the same way we had planned.

View Fall 2020 Course Modalities

For students residing in Berkeley, we will try to augment the virtual courses, when safe and permissible, with in-person gatherings to supplement classes and support community life. Registration for PLTS classes will be available on the PLTS website on July 1. You will also be able to register for courses at all GTU member schools. We are coordinating with the GTU member schools, most of which are also beginning the fall semester online.

We realize that some of you would be discerning whether or not you still will be moving to or staying in Berkeley for the fall semester given this change in course delivery. The Overture apartments where students live do provide a safe and healthy environment, and students this past spring found creative ways to connect and support one another. As we continue to monitor the COVID-19 virus and heed the guidelines of the governor, CDC, Alameda County and the City of Berkeley as the semester progresses, it may be possible that at some point those who wish could worship in person, host optional small academic and social gatherings, and take advantage of outdoor spaces. 

If you have submitted a housing deposit but have decided not to relocate to or continue in Berkeley while coursework is virtual, please let the seminary know by July 15 that you will not need housing. Though courses will be virtual there will be community engagement programs in the Overture Apartments and an excited community ready to welcome you to Berkeley.  Also, for reason of capacity at the Overture Apartments, please consider that student housing will very probably not be available for January and Spring terms if students have not accepted housing in the Fall.  

No decisions have been made about January Intersession or Spring courses at this point.  If needed, decisions about January and Spring courses will be considered later on this year and they will depend on government directives and safety considerations.

We are looking forward to having you in class in the fall and are available to talk with you if you have questions or concerns. This pandemic and the urgent need to address the four-hundred-year-old sin of racism in this country is providing us the opportunity to reflect on the theological and spiritual significance of our calling at this moment in history to act in the power of the Spirit to create a world where everyone knows themselves and we know each other as God’s beloved. 

We send you all joy, peace and courage in this season of Pentecost in the hope that you have a blessed summer!

Yours in Christ,

Ray Pickett
Rector, PLTS

Alicia Vargas
Dean, PLTS