Spring classes online ‘until further notice’; undergrads asked not to return to campus after break

March 10, 2020, 5:18 p.m.

Stanford will conduct spring quarter classes online “until further notice,” the University announced Tuesday afternoon, after days of silence that left students anxiously speculating as peer institutions cancelled classes and the number of coronavirus cases continued to climb locally and nationwide. 

The University is asking undergraduates to leave campus at the end of the quarter “if it is possible for them given their personal circumstances,” President Marc Tessier-Lavigne wrote in an email to the Stanford community. Stanford will provide assistance to undergraduates on financial aid to travel home “where needed.”

Undergraduates are “welcome” to remain on campus if they are currently on campus and “feel they need to remain here through the spring break and the spring quarter,” Tessier-Lavigne wrote. 

Undergraduates who have already left campus or will be leaving campus as the quarter ends are instructed not to return to campus until further notice, unless they “need to return to campus for unavoidable reasons.” Tessier-Lavigne wrote that more information about such exceptions will be provided in an upcoming email.

Students can contact the Housing Front Desk to have their belongings shipped to them, a process that will begin in spring quarter. 

The University is not asking graduate students, who “typically have different and less communal living situations,” to leave their on-campus housing, Tessier-Lavigne wrote. 

The announcement directs students to a frequently asked questions page that provides more details about spring quarter logistics but offers no timeline for when on-campus classes might resume. The page also does not mention what effect a virtual spring quarter will have on seniors scheduled to graduate in June. 

Students who take remote classes will be charged full tuition but no room and board, according to the FAQ page. If on-campus classes resume later in the quarter, students will be charged room and board “on a prorated scale” based on when they return to campus. 

Undergraduates who intend to remain on campus need to register by Thursday at 5 p.m., according to an email from Assistant Vice Provost for Residential Education (ResEd) Cheryl Brown. Students are asked to pick one of five primary reasons for staying on campus — academic, athletics, financial, registered accommodation or personal — and to add a short paragraph explaining their choice.  

Only students who register to stay on campus will have key card access to their dorm during spring quarter. All remaining students — including Row and Suites residents — will eat at “select dining halls,” according to the email.  

In a separate email addressed to student residential staff, Brown wrote that Stanford intends to continue student staff appointments through spring quarter, and that ResEd will “will support student staff who wish to remain on campus.” 

The situation for student-athletes will be addressed on a “team-by-team basis considering the unique circumstances of their team and the timing of their competitive season,” according to the FAQ page. 

The announcement follows decisions at Harvard, MIT and Cornell to put the remainder of the academic year online, telling students to pack up and move out. 

Over 500 students signed a petition Tuesday afternoon, started by Jack Golub ’20 and Ana Cabrera ’20 before the announcement, urging the University not to force students out of housing. 

Golub called the announcement “confusing.”

“Why does the university refuse to listen to students’ pleas to prioritize our well-being?” he wrote in a statement to The Daily. “Going home won’t make many of us safer, and it definitely won’t make our loved ones safer.”

“It seems irresponsible for the school to tell us to leave so that they do not have to worry about us,” he added. “Students are heartbroken. The only way this policy makes sense is if they accept every petition to stay.”

Stanford in Washington program will also be “closed for the spring quarter,” program director Adrienne Jamieson announced Tuesday evening, although the email did not specify whether classes will continue via Zoom or other online platforms. The Stanford in New York program has been “suspended,” according to a Tuesday evening email from Bing Overseas Program Director Aron Rodrigue.

All spring international programs were cancelled on March 5.

This article will be updated.

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

Erin Woo '21 is The Daily's Vol. 259 Editor-in-Chief. Born and raised in Atlanta, GA, she is studying communications and creative writing at Stanford. She has also reported for The Mercury News and WNYC. Contact her at eic 'at' stanforddaily.com.

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