Stanford University has reversed course on reopening, announcing Thursday that undergraduate students will not be coming back to campus this fall as planned.
Citing a "dramatic reversal in California's reopening" due to spiking coronavirus rates and state guidance for higher education institutions that would require a restrictive in-person experience, including no indoor classes, President Marc Tessier-Lavigne said almost all instruction for undergraduates will be fully online for the fall quarter.
"The public health challenges associated with bringing large numbers of undergraduates back to campus dormitory residences under current health conditions, coupled with the limited nature of the on-campus experience we would be able to offer, have led us to the conclusion we are announcing today for our undergraduates," he wrote in his announcement.
Graduate students will still be allowed on campus in person given their "living, dining and academic experiences" are different from undergraduates, Tessier-Lavigne wrote.
Stanford had planned to bring half of its undergraduate students to campus during different quarters, with the majority of courses still happening online, even for students who are living there in person. Official statements repeatedly emphasized that this plan could change and was subject to local public health conditions.
"There have now been nearly 600,000 COVID-19 cases and more than 10,000 deaths in California, and much of the state, including all of the Bay Area, has been placed on a 'watch list' due to worsening trends in public health indicators," Tessier-Lavigne wrote.
Undergraduate students who have already been approved to live at Stanford due to special circumstances will still be offered campus housing, he said. The university will soon provide more information about campus housing and issues related to residential staff, international students and financial aid.
Stanford hopes that freshmen, sophomores and new transfer students can return to campus for the winter quarter. The university is also offering leaves of absence as an option for returning students.
"This is a disappointing turn of events because so much of what makes Stanford a special place is embodied in the in-person interactions we have here — in the residences, with faculty at office hours, walking with friends across campus, in our student organizations and artistic venues and sporting events. All of us miss the unique, vibrant, palpable spirit of Stanford that is created when we are here together, living and learning in community," the president wrote. "Each of us embodies this Stanford spirit, and I am confident that we can sustain the collective energy of our extraordinary community throughout this crisis, until we can be present together once again on the Farm."
Find comprehensive coverage on the Midpeninsula's response to the new coronavirus by Palo Alto Online, the Mountain View Voice and the Almanac here.