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Winter quarter classes, finals to be conducted remotely due to coronavirus concerns

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Stanford is canceling all in-person class meetings for the last two weeks of winter quarter, Provost Persis Drell announced Friday night, less than three hours after the University announced the first confirmed coronavirus case in a Stanford affiliate. 

Classes will be conducted online “to the extent feasible,” and all winter quarter finals scheduled to be taken in-person will be administered as take-home exams, Drell wrote. 

“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,” Drell wrote.

“We are taking this step after thoughtful consideration, and I have been in touch today with the chair of the Faculty Senate, who concurs,” she added. “We are committed to providing the support to help instructors in this effort.”

Admit Weekend, scheduled for prospective undergraduates during the weekend of April 23-26, has also been canceled and will be replaced with a “virtual experience,” according to the announcement. Beginning March 9 and extending at least through April 15, the Office of Undergraduate Admission and Financial Aid will no longer offer campus tours and information sessions for prospective students, though the Visitor Center will remain open and visitors will be able to take self-guided tours. 

Employees are also encouraged to work remotely when possible.

Earlier in the week, Stanford recommended the cancellation of all events larger than 150 people, though regularly scheduled classes were excluded at that time.

Now, for the remainder of winter quarter, instructors will be expected to use Canvas or other online platforms to make their course content available where feasible, Drell wrote. 

When remote instruction is not possible, instructors may submit grades based on the first nine weeks of the quarter, but they are “encouraged to provide students the opportunity to demonstrate their knowledge at the end of the quarter.”

Faculty are recommended to consult with their department chairs and the Center for Teaching and Learning Staff in determining how to conduct classes and final exams for the rest of the quarter.  

“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,” she wrote.

Two undergraduate students are currently in self-isolation after possible coronavirus exposure, although they are exhibiting no symptoms, according to an email from Drell earlier Friday evening.

Drell’s latest announcement comes less than three hours after School of Medicine Dean Lloyd Minor announced that a member of the school’s faculty had been diagnosed with the virus. According to Minor’s announcement, that individual has not been in the workplace since experiencing symptoms, and the clinic where they worked is closed for cleaning.


In Santa Clara County, the number of coronavirus cases has climbed to 24, according to a Friday press release from the county’s public health department. The virus has infected over 100,000 people worldwide and has killed more than 3,400 people, according to the Associated Press.

Contact Erin Woo at erinkwoo ‘at’ stanford.edu.

Erin Woo '21 is a Managing Editor of News. A communications major and creative writing minor, she plans to pursue a career in journalism. She has also reported for The Mercury News and WNYC. Contact her at erinkwoo 'at' stanford.edu.