To our Stanford community,

I’m writing this evening with two pieces of additional news on Stanford’s response to the COVID-19 virus.

In recent days we have seen the continued spread of COVID-19 around the world and here in Santa Clara County. With the increased availability of testing, we can expect that confirmed cases of COVID-19 will continue to grow in our region and perhaps in our university community.

The public health guidance we are receiving continues to emphasize not only good personal hygiene practices, but also minimizing close contact among groups of people, as means of restraining the spread of COVID-19. We recently placed constraints on large public events at Stanford, and now, in order both to help reduce the spread of COVID-19 and to ease anxiety in our community as winter finals approach, we are taking new steps regarding course instruction.

For the final two weeks of the winter quarter, beginning Monday, March 9, classes at Stanford will not meet in person. To the extent feasible, we will be moving classes to online formats in place of in-person instruction. Any winter quarter final exams that were scheduled to be administered in person will need to be administered in take-home format, complying with university rules for such exams.

We recognize that this is a significant adjustment for many instructors. We are taking this step after thoughtful consideration, and I have been in touch today with the chair of the Faculty Senate, who concurs. We are committed to providing the support to help instructors in this effort. The website has many resources to assist, and further guidance and tools will be provided shortly through the Office of the Vice Provost for Faculty Development, Teaching and Learning. (Additional information also will be coming soon to principal investigators regarding steps they should take with regard to ensuring research continuity.)

Given the timing of this announcement, we are encouraging instructors with a scheduled class on Monday, March 9, to cancel that session if needed in order to have the time to make the necessary course changes. In addition, we encourage all instructors to email students in their courses this weekend to let them know their course plans. For the balance of the quarter:

  • To the extent feasible, instructors will be expected to make their course content, including materials used in class, available via Canvas or other online options.
  • In some cases, when the nature of a class or exam is not suited to remote delivery, other options, including submitting grades based on work conducted to this point, may be used. However, instructors are encouraged to provide students the opportunity to demonstrate their knowledge at the end of the quarter, and CTL staff are available to help instructors develop these opportunities.
  • Faculty should consult with their department chairs in determining the most appropriate actions to take, placing student health and success first in all decision making.
  • Where online instruction takes place, students will be expected to attend classes online at their regularly scheduled time, though we will continue to encourage instructors to be flexible with attendance and exam policies for any students who are ill.

Though classes will not be meeting in person, the university will remain open. Our existing guidance to employees remains in place. In situations where work can temporarily be performed from home or an alternate location, we encourage employees and managers to work together to identify possible telecommuting opportunities. Many Stanford employees are needed physically on campus, of course, and services for our community must continue. We encourage everyone to continue good health practices that minimize the possibility of virus spread.

In addition, I want to let you know that we are canceling the in-person Admit Weekend event, for prospective undergraduates who have been or will be offered admission to Stanford, scheduled for the weekend of April 23-26. While we are disappointed to take this step, we believe it is prudent given the continued spread of COVID-19 and changing travel conditions. We will be working, however, to develop replacement programming, and we’re excited by the possibilities for an innovative and compelling virtual experience for our admitted students to the Class of 2024.

The Office of Undergraduate Admission and Financial Aid is also canceling campus tours and information sessions for prospective students as of Monday, March 9, and will re-evaluate its ability to host these offerings after April 15. The Visitor Center will remain open and visitors will be able to take self-guided tours, but there will be no group tours or events.

In closing, I want to thank you for everything each of you is doing during this challenging period. Many people are understandably anxious about COVID-19 and the unknowns that it poses. And yet, our community is doing a remarkable job rising to the challenge: from our food service workers who are continuing to serve our students, to the custodians performing more frequent cleanings; from the faculty and staff rescheduling events and projects, to the dedicated teams who have been working exhausting hours coordinating the university’s response. Thank you, all, for your commitment to the well-being of our Stanford community. As before, please continue to visit for ongoing updates.


Persis Drell