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Stanford FAQ page suggests that online classes may be temporary, offers spring quarter guidance

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A Stanford “frequently asked questions” page for undergraduates on the state of spring 2020 leaves one of the largest questions of all unanswered: whether or not students will resume in-person classes before the end of the academic year. 

Multiple questions frame the issue of returning to campus as a given, not a possibility, although the University offers no timeline for when undergraduates would be expected to come back. 

“You should plan to return to campus when in-person classes resume,” the page states. “Please monitor your email for updates.”

However, others leave open the option that remote classes will continue throughout the quarter: “No other shipping [of personal belongings] will take place until it is determined whether or not students will be called back to campus for in-person instruction,” reads the answer to a question asking whether the University would ship students their belongings if they left campus without moving out.  

The University updated the “frequently asked questions” page with additional guidance Wednesday night after its announcement Tuesday afternoon told undergraduates to prepare for online classes “until further notice” while giving them few details on how to do so.

The expanded page addresses a number of academic, financial and logistical concerns, although many questions remain unanswered. 

Support for students learning remotely from different time zones will vary by course, and the University has not yet determined how lab- and performance-based classes will operate online. 

“We are in close touch with school deans who are communicating with departments about these kinds of situations, and we will have more guidance soon,” the page reads. “Graduating students are very much on our minds, and we are paying particular attention to the course needs of that group. We are committed to working with students in these individual circumstances to find a solution.”

For students on financial aid, leaving campus for spring quarter will mean a reduction in aid “to reflect presumably lower living expenses at home,” according to the page, although the University will offer financial assistance to travel home. Students working federal work-study jobs will be able to work remotely as “a provision for this unprecedented time.” 

For all undergraduates, the University will not reduce spring quarter tuition as a reflection of online classes or refund room and board costs for the remainder of winter quarter. The University will also not relax its transfer credit or reduced load policies, according to the page. 

The page also answers questions about students’ dorm rooms and belongings, often implying that moving out of on-campus housing is just a temporary measure. 

“You should take the items that you will need for the coming weeks,” reads the answer to a question asking whether students should completely move out of their rooms. “If you plan to return for spring 2020, there is no reason to completely vacate your residence at this time.”

No students will be charged for leaving belongings in their room or for having their belongings shipped to them.

Undergraduates intending to stay on campus during spring quarter must register by Thursday at 5 p.m. If they change their mind after filling out the form, they can leave campus and return home without penalty, and they will be charged only for the “number of days [they] occupy the space during spring quarter.”

All students who remain on campus will have access to meals, although the details of where students will eat are yet to be determined. 

The University also asks students who choose to remain on campus to “very carefully consider” any decisions to go into the surrounding Bay Area. 

“The choice to leave campus and then return not only puts yourself at risk, but others as well, including vulnerable populations,” the page reads. 

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

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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.